Project Management

The Challenges of Scaling Agile Teams

Esther has an M.A. in Organizational Leadership, is the author of over 100 articles, and co-author of "Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great" and "Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management". She’s a founder of the AYE Conference, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Agile Alliance. www.estherderby.com.

"We know how to make agile work for one team or in a pilot situation, but how do we get the benefits of agile across our development organization? We have six teams." I hear this question in most larger organizations. One team or a handful of teams may be able to deliver small systems, but large complex systems require teams of teams to deliver significant features. How can companies benefit from “the team effect” at scale? Whether you have six teams or 60, you'll face the same challenges:

  • Coordinating work across the teams so that all the necessary pieces finish at roughly the same time
  • Integrating the work of several teams, so that all the pieces work together
  • Maintaining the technical integrity of the code when many people who don't communicate daily work on it

Coordination & Integration
Coordination and integration go hand in hand. Organizing people into feature teams (rather than component teams) and working by vertical slice reduces integration and the complexity of scheduling work across teams that have different priorities and different paces.

But with a large product, a viable release may require several feature teams working together. Then, those teams need to share a backlog and plan together. (For guidance on handling dependencies and how to form cross-functional teams, see my article “


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One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.

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