Originally created in 1995 for software developers, the Scrum framework and underlying Agile principles have seeped into countless industries and businesses. But because of its emphasis on small teams, Scrum has always faced scaling challenges in bigger businesses. It wasn’t until recently that Scrum leaders found ways to make Scrum work on a grand scale. LeSS is one of those ways.
Below, we’ll dive into the specifics of Large Scale Scrum and see how it compares to traditional Scrum. We’ll also look at how monday.com can help you scale your Scrum efforts and provide a couple of handy templates to get things rolling. But for now, let’s start with a formal introduction to LeSS.
What is Large Scale Scrum, or LeSS?
LeSS, or Large Scale Scrum, is a framework for scaling Scrum across multiple teams working on a single product. The goal of LeSS is to apply the principles and methods defined by Scrum to large enterprises as simply as possible.
Like Scrum, the framework is designed to deliver customer value while reducing unnecessary complexity. It accomplishes this by elegantly applying the principles of Scrum to a big product team. In doing so, the LeSS framework creates a single cohesive unit working together on a single product.
What is the framework for LeSS?
Before getting into framework details, it’s worth mentioning that the core of LeSS is still Scrum. One of the framework’s principles is “Large Scale Scrum is Scrum.” As such, LeSS builds on the essential Scrum unit and its roles.
Rather than taking a new approach, the Large Scale Scrum framework is all about applying the proven foundations of Scrum, at scale.
With that said, LeSS actually provides two frameworks:
- LeSS: For two to eight teams
- LeSS Huge: For eight teams or more
With the basic version of LeSS, teams are organized following the Scrum model, each with its own Scrum Master. The difference is that the Product Owner oversees all teams rather than a small Scrum unit. Meanwhile, each team is organized around one Feature Area, which describes the value-driven focus of the team’s outputs.
It’s recommended that larger organizations begin with the basic LeSS framework before gradually adopting LeSS Huge. For smaller teams, the transitional mark is at the upper end of eight teams. At this point, the Product Owner can no longer manage the product backlog refinement and should look at implementing the LeSS Huge framework.
LeSS Huge takes the basic LeSS formula and adds an Area Product Owner to the mix. Area Product Owners are experts in their designated area and oversee its backlog. They also serve to facilitate communication between teams and the Product Owner. This extra layer of oversight is what enables the grand scaling of the Scrum formula, creating a cohesive unit out of the largest product teams.
Despite the wider impact of LeSS, it’s remarkably similar to the traditional Scrum framework.
How is LeSS different from Scrum?
LeSS is dubbed and designed as a “barely sufficient methodology” for maximum impact. Considering teams that embrace Scrum boost the output quality by 250%, there’s good reason to stick with tried and true methods. In other words, it’s not about organizing Scrum teams at the bottom and creating a new framework at higher levels, but rather about figuring out how to scale Scrum principles up as simply as possible.
Like Scrum, LeSS has a single product backlog and product owner. And while there are multiple cross-functional teams, all teams work in tandem across sprints to deliver one complete product. The biggest difference is that in LeSS Huge the responsibilities of product ownership are expanded on with area product owners.
Most workflows and processes are unchanged from Scrum, with a few exceptions. In LeSS, sprint planning is divided into two parts, with the first part involving the wider product team and the second part taking place at the smaller team level. Apart from a few other process tweaks, the Scrum formula is largely unchanged. Even the daily Scrum stand-up is part of the deal.Given the similarities, teams moving from Scrum to LeSS can often use the same tools they did before, though they might want to consider a more adaptive approach.
Using monday.com to support LeSS efforts
Enterprises looking to simplify and optimize their product team using the LeSS framework need tools that are equally scalable. Those tools should also enable the kind of centralized work management that’s necessary for Agile workflows. With monday.com, you get all this and more.
As an Agile company, monday.com is well acquainted with the workflows necessary for Scrum frameworks, and our task boards are built with these workflows in mind. With hundreds of templates to choose from, a centralized board for any workflow you can imagine is a click away.
Using monday.com to support Scrum or LeSS project management means product and area owners can easily assign tasks across teams and monitor progress in real-time. Any event, artifact, or increment that takes place is all saved on the platform, creating a single source of truth for the entire team.
The approach to centralize all your team’s workflows under one digital roof is also apparent in monday.com’s integrations. From Jira and GitHub to Dropbox and Slack, other tools or workflows your team needs can live comfortably within monday.com.
You can also rely on many of our templates to help you manage Scrum-related processes.
Are you ready to experience the benefits of monday.com and an Agile mindset? These sprint templates are the perfect place to start.
Scrum Sprint planning template
In LeSS, a sprint encompasses the entire product team, which makes having scalable tools in place for planning and tracking progress crucial. With our Scrum Sprint Planning Template, Product Owners and Scrum Masters can easily get a handle on their sprints, whether they’re working with a product team of 50 or 500. Since it’s simple to use and fully customizable, you can focus on delivering value rather than wrangling details. And it’s ready to scale right out of the box— simply assign items by area teams, and you’re off.
Sprint retrospective template
A key component of the Scrum and LeSS frameworks is continuous improvement through retrospectives. With our Sprint Retrospective Template, getting feedback and raising the bar during sprint review is easy. Simply add topics for the overall retrospective and let the team members sound off. And with monday.com’s dozens of integrations, you can add whatever you need to provide the right context, be it a GitHub repo or a design on Creative Cloud.
Winning with Large Scale Scrum requires understanding as much about the methodology as you can. Dive into our FAQs to learn a bit more before you get started.
What are three roles defined by Large Scale Scrum?
In addition to team members, Large Scale Scrum outlines three distinct roles for product teams:
- Product Owner: The product owner oversees all teams and manages the product backlog while maximizing product value
- Area Product Owner: The Area Product Owner oversees a specific area and focuses on that area’s backlog while also coordinating with the Product Owner
- Scrum Master: The Scrum Master guides and coaches the members of their team in getting the most from Scrum practices
Is sprint planning a part of Large Scale Scrum?
Like traditional Scrum, Large Scale Scrum uses sprints to plan and execute a set amount of work. Sprint planning in LeSS is divided into two parts:
- Sprint Planning One: The first part focuses on choosing ready items provided by the Product Owner and defining the Sprint Goal
- Sprint Planning Two: The second part focuses on planning the steps to get each item to a done state and adding the items and the plan to the Sprint Backlog
What’s the difference between LeSS and SAFe?
SAFe, or Scaled Agile Framework, is another leading framework for applying the Agile mindset and Scrum frameworks at scale. SAFe is similar to LeSS in principle, though SAFe requires additional roles, processes, and other changes to organizational structure. In contrast, LeSS focuses on flexibility and simplification of organization structure.
For maximum enterprise agility, LeSS is more
Scrum has proven itself time and again across a multitude of organizations and industries. Out of all the different methodologies, frameworks, and product philosophies, 66% of Agile teams still use Scrum. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
For organizations looking for a way to implement Scrum at scale, LeSS does as little as possible to change the original formula. And when you pair the customer-centric framework of LeSS with tools like monday.com, you can deliver value to your customers like never before.