Agile seems suited for smaller teams—at least that’s the way I see the landscape. Small teams are less bureaucratic and have less overhead in the form of management needed. So how do you implement, run, and achieve success in larger efforts?
For the purpose of this story, I see a large effort as anything with ten or more developers. To get us started, here is a short tutorial on YouTube discussing this very topic.
The success or failure of scaling agile to large teams is based on your organization’s maturity as it applies to agile. Over at stackexchange.com, the question “Is agile feasible for large financial applications?” was asked and received some excellent responses if you feel inclined to read other people’s opinions on the matter.
Jeff Sutherland, Agile Manifesto signatory and ScrumMaster extraordinaire, is even attempting to bring agile to US Department of Defense (DoD) projects, which are almost always large scale; this is proof that moving large projects to agile is very possible, as his blog points out.
I think we can say that large-scale projects can benefit from agile. But how do you carry out the mechanics agile, such as the fifteen-minute daily Scrum?
If you have twenty-five developers, how do you conduct a stand up meeting? Gamasutra.com gives us a great graphic and article on how to do have a Scrum of Scrums, which deals with this issue. The folks at TechTarget.com recommend a hybrid methodology when scaling agile to larger projects.
So how do larger teams implement agile when they originally started small and had to grow to a bigger size in order to accommodate more work? Infoq.com provides us with some of the answers on how to address that issue—from combining user stories together in epics to using story mapping as a way to visualize and reduce the backlog.
At controlchaos.com, a great article about how agile was rolled out at Yahoo in 2005 shows us tangible results of how Yahoo was made better through agile methodologies. You can also read a 2012 presentation on how the transformation has continued at Yahoo since the original implementation.
I’ll leave you with my original question: Can agile be scaled to large teams? I think we can see that it can be successfully scaled to both large teams and large organizations.
What has been your experience been? Has agile worked on your larger teams or has it failed?
Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.