Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) is a way of scaling agile and scaling scrum to large and big product development groups. It has been used since 2005 in different software and hardware products in industries such as banking and telecom. Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) scales scrum by trying to stay true to scrum and agile without adding too much additional roles or responsibilities. That makes it different from other agile scaling frameworks. LeSS follows the principle of Large Scale Scrum LeSS is More, meaning that it is better for scaling to scale up a method rather than tailoring down a method.
Why would you want to scale up Scrum or Agile development? When you are able to get a one-team Scrum team to work well, then they can perform exceptionally well. When focusing on value delivery, one team Scrum can outperform most scaled development. From that perspective, it is always preferable to keep your development as small as possible and to not scale at all. That said, there are some products that require more developers than just one team. In those cases, scaling Agile and Scrum is a good idea. What is the alternative, right? That said...
The reason large product development exists is often not because they need to be large. It is quite amazing to see that a lot of big development efforts happen coincidentally. For example, two companies merge and thus there are more people. Or even simpler, one product is finished, so where do we put the people? Probably to the other project.
Scrum and Agile development has been proven over the years to provide much better results than the traditional waterfall-based processes, or compared to traditional Tayloristic project management practices. Thus, if we accept that we'll need many people, then trying to figure out how to scale agile development and scrum makes a lot of sense. But how?
Currently, there are quite a few scaled agile development frameworks available. So how is LeSS compared to the other approaches such as <abbr title"Scaled Agile Framework">SAFe</abbr> or DAD? There are some fundamental differences between LeSS and SAFe and DAD
There are three big conceptual differences between LeSS and SAFe or DAD:
Don't tailor down, but scale up
Most frameworks such as SAFe or DAD provide too much stuff as they try to cover every possible scenario. However, as was pointed out in Balacing Agility with Discipline, it is better to scale up a method than to tailor it down. Tailoring down always leads to too much.
Scaling Scrum vs using Scrum as a one-team process
Most frameworks like SAFe or DAD take Scrum as a one-team process and ask what they will need to add to Scrum in order to scale it up. LeSS doesn't look at Scrum that way, but instead asks what we'll need to change to let Scrum itself scale up to multiple teams. But it is still Scrum.
Delivering an integrated product every Sprint
Most other scaling agile and scrum frameworks, SAFe or DAD allow for the product to not be integrated every single Sprint. In that sense, they do not reply on continuous integration across multiple teams. Mostly because that is hard. LeSS doesn't offer such concession.
The Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is based on the Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) principles. Around the Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) Framework there are guides. Most of this site provides guides. The Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework itself is define by the LeSS Rules. The outer layer of Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) are the experiments, which are based on the two earlier scaling agile books from Bas Vodde and Craig Larman. The first was Scaling Agile and Lean Product Development and the second one is Practices for Scaling Agile and Lean Product Development. The third book describes the LeSS framework and the Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) rules. It is called Large-Scale Scrum
Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) follows these principles:
Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) has been in use since 2006 and is used by many scaling agile large product development efforts. Examples of companies that use Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) are: Nokia Networks (former NSN), Ericsson, Bank of America Meryll Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Alcatel Lucent, BMW, ION Trading, Valtech, Port of Rotterdam, and many more. Many of the case studies are recorded here on this site.
The LeSS Company provides several courses for learning about Large-Scale Scrum. The dates can be found on this site. The two main trainings are the Certified LeSS Practitioner and the Certified LeSS Executive training. The former is for everyone and the latter is targetted a bit more towards management. The courses are given by Certified LeSS trainers who all have a proven experience with adopting LeSS
The LeSS Company certified Large Scale Scrum coaching companies, which are companies that have shows to have experience in scaling agile. Because of their scaling agile experience, the LeSS company certified them and they are able to register certified LeSS Coaches on the site. Companies adopting Large Scale Scrum for Scaling Agile will be able to find high quality coaches to help them with their Large Scale Agile adoption.
“Since 2005, we've worked with clients to apply the LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) framework for scaling Scrum, lean and agile development to big product groups. We share that experience and knowledge through LeSS so that you too can succeed when scaling.”—Craig Larman & Bas Vodde