The Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) Framework

Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) is an effective way of scaling Scrum, an agile methodology used to help teams collaborate on and develop complex products. For enterprises or multiple teams, LeSS takes Scrum and expands it to support the needs of larger groups of people.

Scrum is traditionally focused on small teams; LeSS gives organizations the tools to make that process run more smoothly and effectively at scale. If you’ve never heard of Scrum or the Large-Scale Scrum framework, read on! We’re about to break it all down.

Read more: Agile vs. Waterfall: Differences in Software Development Methodologies

What Is the LeSS Framework?

The LeSS framework refers to a systematically scaled-up version of Scrum that is more conducive to larger teams, or larger numbers of teams, who are working together on a single project or product. LeSS does exactly what Scrum does for smaller teams, only for more people across many teams: it simplifies processes and improves organization for a stronger final result.

What exactly is Scrum? Scrum is a defined, iterative process for developing products as a team, with a focus on self-organization. Scrum is an agile framework with pre-defined roles, phases, and meetings, which leverages continuous product improvement to increase customer satisfaction.

Along the same lines, LeSS follows a specific set of principles, or tenets, to enhance productivity, efficiency, and teamwork. The framework aims to deliver value while reducing complexity and wasted time for large teams. Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

What Are the Key Tenets of LeSS?

To ensure an enterprise succeeds in carrying out projects, operating efficiently, and delivering desired results, there are 10 key tenets that embody the concept of LeSS:

  • Large-scale Scrum is Scrum
  • Empirical process control
  • Transparency
  • Do more with less
  • Whole-product focus
  • Customer-centric
  • Continuous improvement toward perfection
  • Systems thinking
  • Lean thinking
  • Queuing theory

Teams that employ LeSS will reap the benefits of these tenets if the LeSS framework is adopted correctly. The tenets help direct the gaze of an enterprise to the customer, and improve collaboration, communication, and organization.

LeSS is ultimately most useful for organizations if they apply these principles in as straightforward of a manner as possible. At its core, the LeSS framework is simple, enabling companies to better cut through the “noise” that large teams typically encounter.

Read more: Best Agile Software & Tools for Project Management

What Differentiates LeSS From Other Agile Models?

First and foremost, one of the key distinctions between LeSS and other agile models is its ability to be effective for large teams or enterprises. However, one methodology is not necessarily better than the other — just different. LeSS uses components of Scrum to be more appropriate for a larger audience.

LeSS is also different from the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Up close, SAFe is somewhat similar to LeSS in that it uses the principle of lean thinking, and focuses on continuous improvement and the customer. However, LeSS is more adaptable than its SAFe counterpart, which requires more roles, processes, and organizational changes within an enterprise.

There are two configurations of the LeSS framework:

  • Basic LeSS: Two to eight teams of 10 to 50 people
  • LeSS Huge: More than eight teams and 50+ people

Basic LeSS shares much in common with a traditional Scrum team, and is recommended when a company first begins implementing LeSS due to its simplicity.

How Project Managers Can Use LeSS

When it comes to project management, LeSS can make all of the difference to companies in carrying out a project successfully.

Atlassian notes that software teams utilizing agile project management methodologies like LeSS increase their product development speed, expand collaboration, and tend to respond better to market trends over time. Clearly, LeSS can do quite a bit for companies.

Project managers can build a Scrum board to chart and keep tabs on their team’s LeSS steps toward completing a project. This is a useful visual tool for all team members, helping to keep everyone on the same page and moving forward at an appropriate pace. Scrum boards may work similarly to a Kanban board, with steps or columns such as To Do, In Progress, or Complete. Scrum project management tools typically come with built-in templates to make setup easier.

Ultimately, project managers who use LeSS as a project management framework can increase transparency, organization, and visibility within their team and across multiple teams. Harnessing this agile project management methodology can do a lot to hold team members accountable, helping them move forward with their tasks and responsibilities within a reasonable amount of time.

Read next: 5 Phases of Project Management Life Cycle You Need to Know

Caitlin McCormick Wrights

Caitlin is a professional technology writer with an impeccable balance of business experience and creativity. Freelancing in technology writing, journalism and corporate marketing, her past work includes web copy, training guides, advertorials, reviews, and pillar guides. Her ability to attune writing style to different editorial guidelines and preferences is exceptional.