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Scrum, SAFe, LESS, Nexus & co. - Agile frameworks offer proven approaches for complex challenges.

Agile Frameworks: The Basic Concepts for Agility

Agile frameworks are structured methods that promote agile values, self-organization, flexibility, and alignment towards a common goal in product development and project management. They serve as guidelines for effective collaboration within teams and across entire companies.

The purpose of agile frameworks

Agile frameworks provide a robust framework with proven approaches and methods to effectively plan, implement and adapt projects.

Relying on an established agile framework instead of developing your own method has several advantages:

  • Successful approaches: It is possible to draw on and benefit from methods and structures that have already proven themselves in practice.
  • Existing know-how: Existing training material and literature are available to enable employees to acquire skills more quickly and easily.
  • Shorter induction period: Thanks to standardized processes, the induction period for new team members is shortened.
  • Common language: Frameworks define terms and provide a common basis for communication within the team.
  • Role clarity: People can be recruited and developed specifically for certain roles.

 

Target group: Who can benefit from agile frameworks?

Agile frameworks benefit companies and teams of all sizes and industries. The target group is broad, including software development teams, product development teams, marketing and sales teams, and management teams.

In addition, agile frameworks are particularly suitable for:

  • Companies that carry out complex projects
  • Teams that work in dynamic and rapidly changing environments
  • Companies that value customer focus and flexibility
  • Teams that want to improve their collaboration and communication

 

Difference: Agile frameworks vs. agile methods

Agile methods and agile frameworks are closely related within the agile philosophy, but they fulfill different functions.

Agile frameworks provide functional structures and clarify the “what”. For example, the Scrum framework states that there is a prioritized backlog in which the possible features of the product are described.

Agile methods provide concrete procedures to fill the agile structures from the framework with life. Agile methods describe the “how”.

Story mapping, event storming, planning poker, and WSJF are just some of the many methods used to create a prioritized backlog.

 

What do companies need to consider when choosing an agile framework?

Choosing the right agile framework for an organization is an important decision. The different frameworks have different strengths and weaknesses. It is therefore important to consider the specific needs and framework conditions of the organization.

The following factors should be considered when choosing an agile framework:

  • General framework conditions: The size of the team or organization, the number of people involved, and the required level of responsiveness and self-organization.
  • Transformation goal: What specific improvements must be achieved?
  • Current corporate culture: Going directly from a strong command & control structure to an organization based on sociocracy might be too ambitious.
  • Psychological safety: Existing or missing psychological safety should be determined. A more agile way of working requires an environment in which employees can develop freely and unhindered.
  • Company or product situation: Is the company in a “burning platform” situation in which it needs to act quickly? Or is it more of an experiment to evaluate new potential?

 

Agile frameworks: When do you use each framework

Depending on the use case and initial situation, the right framework should be chosen as the foundation. Methods and approaches from other frameworks can also be integrated where it makes sense.

Scrum

  • Organization of an agile team with typically 10 or fewer members
  • Defines roles, ceremonies (regular meetings with a specific format and purpose) and artifacts (traces of work)
  • Work in sprints: Defined, fixed time frame of 1 to 4 weeks in which a potentially deliverable, value-adding piece of product is created

Typical use cases for Scrum

  • Software development
  • General product development
  • Basis for scaling frameworks

Kanban

  • Emphasizes continuous flow of work
  • Integrates continuous improvement into the work
  • Works with a visual board to transparently display and optimize the flow of work
  • Limits the number of simultaneously active tasks to encourage their completion
  • Is based on the pull principle: tasks are pulled when the person is ready to complete them instead of being pushed towards them
  • Does not define fixed roles or predefined meetings

Typical use cases for Kanban

  • Everywhere where work constantly accumulates:
    • Production of individual pieces (e.g. handicrafts)
    • IT support
    • Personnel management (e.g. processing applications or conducting employee interviews)
  • In combination with Scrum for product and software development
  • Basis for scaling frameworks

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

  • Best choice for large companies with traditional structures as an introduction to agile working
  • Recommended for 50+ people and above
  • Most comprehensive framework for making all areas of the company more agile
  • Dual operating system concept provides approaches to reconcile the existing hierarchical company structure with agile organizational structures
  • Methods and approaches for all levels of a company

Typical use cases for SAFe

  • Agile transformation of a classically structured company
  • Conventional project management no longer works for product development and the company is trying to handle the resulting problems
  • Organization of several agile teams working on a joint product
  • Integration of portfolio management and financing into the agile approach
  • Integration of external and internal suppliers

 

Nexus from scrum.org

  • Lean framework for several teams with a total of up to approximately 40 people
  • High degree of self-organization
  • High responsiveness
  • Lowest overhead due to scaling
  • Requires a high level of maturity

Typical use cases for Nexus

  • Scaling a successful product: A product that was previously developed by a single team and has already been very successful and can then be further developed with several teams by efficiently managing the collaboration of several teams.
  • Dynamic substructures in agile release trains: A SAFe Agile Release Train (ART) or a large solution forms more dynamic substructures where these make sense and enable the flexible adaptation of agile processes within the ART or the large solution.

Flight levels: a methodical approach

  • Methodical, structured approach to increase business agility
  • Based on Kanban
  • No additional roles and predefined ceremonies
  • Super lean approach, virtually without “overhead”
  • Works well if the company works in principle and there are no cultural barriers to transparency and taking responsibility
  • Can be easily integrated into operational business

Typical use cases of flight levels

  • Functioning company wants to improve responsiveness (to the market) and implement continuous improvement
  • Improve consistency of strategy and implementation and ensure that all employees are working towards a common goal
  • No or hardly any need for major restructuring due to dysfunctional structures

How does EFS Consulting support the selection of a suitable framework?

EFS Consulting can provide support with the help of workshops and assessments to work out the vision and concrete goals of the transformation, identify cultural and technical development needs to derive the most suitable framework and a transformation roadmap.

With expertise and experience:

  • EFS Consulting analyzes your company’s needs and framework conditions.
  • Introduces you to various frameworks and evaluates their suitability for your company.
  • EFS Consulting works with your company to develop a customized plan for implementing the selected framework.
  • EFS Consulting supports you during implementation and ensures smooth integration into your corporate culture.

EFS Consulting supports you in finding the perfect solution for your company. Get in touch with us now and let us advise you without obligation!

 

Conclusion

Agile frameworks offer companies a proven, structured approach to optimize processes, improve collaboration and respond more quickly to market changes. Agile frameworks can lead companies to greater efficiency, flexibility, and customer satisfaction.  However, the key to success does not lie in the blind implementation of the framework, but in the targeted use of suitable frameworks to increase the company’s added value.

 

People

Bernhard Schreiner, Partner bei EFS Consulting

Bernhard Schreiner

Jürgen Leitner, Partner bei EFS Consulting

Jürgen Leitner

Liliana Simon