5 Common Challenges Faced When Scaling Agile

Agile software development enables the delivery of value incrementally with the highest quality in the shortest sustainable time. It centers on the principle of responding to change and thus aiding in succeeding in a world of ever-changing requirements. It is an umbrella term for many frameworks out of which scaling agile models are becoming increasingly prevalent.
The scaling agile models are very flexible and can easily cater to all the needs of any organization. They increase transparency, collaboration and agility not just between the agile teams, but all the way up to the top level management. A few renowned scaled agile models include:

  • a) Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
  • b) Disciplined Agile (DA)
  • c) Large Scale Scrum (LESS)

Adapting to these scaling agile models is not done overnight and is surely not easy. It takes time, consistency and a lot of patience to be at a position to safely say that you have wholly implemented the framework.
During this journey of adapting any scaling agile model, many challenges have to be faced. In this article, we will aim to discuss the common challenges faced while adapting or transforming to any scaling agile model for an organization. We will also discuss how these challenges can be overcome thus to truly guide and enable a smooth transition.

1. Not Having a Complete Understanding of the Framework

Many people find that the individuals that lead the transformation are not completely well versed on the finer details. Usually, one of the members of the existing leadership, often completes one course and reads a book on how the transition shall take place and decides to lead the feat. Although it is a good practice to learn something by yourself, many organizations do this just to avoid any expenses of hiring third party services.
While doing so they don’t really anticipate the great deal of questions that may arise and in situations like these they are left rather dumbfounded when they can not properly give a convincing answer.
It is best to hire an agile coach. Their knowledge attained from numerous training sessions and real-time experience can prove to be extremely valuable in guiding every individual. An agile coach can also connect and completely understand with the pain that most individuals may be going through during this transition.

2. Not Having the Motivation to Shift

It is easy to remain in a state of comfort. It is easy to think that whatever condition an organization is in, it is all good. But unfortunately, there is no growth in your comfort zone. In order to transform, you need a push. You need to be properly motivated to take this leap of change.
All the members from the team level to the upper management level need to be convinced of what the changes they can experience with scaling agile. They must be reminded continuously of the benefits that will come with scaling agile.

3. Forming a New Mindset

A major prerequisite when adapting to any scaling agile model is having a lean agile mindset. It is not just one person who needs to have it, but it has to slowly and steadily be incorporated with everyone in the entire organization. Leaders need to be taught the concept of servant leadership where the priorities of the teams are kept first. Teams need to be taught on how to take ownership of their work and should be empowered to take their own decisions.
An agile coach can be helpful in guiding through this process of attaining a Lean Agile Mindset, by having a dedicated session for learning these concepts.

4. Going through a Culture Shift

In a traditional style of management, teams are confined to working within their silos while following a hierarchical system and being firmly dedicated to following the plan made by the higher management. With Scaling Agile, a new culture of working has to be adapted.
It eliminates the idea of a top down hierarchy, destroys silos and enhances transparency and collaboration between the teams and the higher management on one page. It harbours the belief that everything does not have to go according to a plan as requirements and the demands can change.
Transforming to this culture takes time and is certainly not an easy task. Many people oppose the idea of a more self empowered team. Individuals are accustomed to the traditional ways of command style management and refuse to give up that mentality. It is with agile that you have to give up on that laborious style of work and to be part of something that will truly rule the way management is done in the future.

5. Not using the Right Tools Consistently Across the Organization

Building silos is a deal breaker for agile. Organizations tend to use tools that differ in every department. It takes time to adjust to new tools and people have developed a level of comfort for the tool they are using. This causes a disconnect.
Firstly, you need to know the technology stack that is being used and you need to keep it consistent. There needs to be a tracking tool that should be accessible to all. It should allow a transparent flow of information, promotes visibility and collaboration. This tracking tool shall allow you to create strategic plans, dependencies and risks.


The people expect that implementing a new scaled agile framework will instantly do wonders.But it is not like that. These practices are easier said than done. Transforming one individual is one thing, aiming to improve the entire organization is another. This is nothing to be worried about. Large organizations have gone through alot and everyone feels that way. It takes time, patience and consistency to achieve the level of perfection that everyone hopes for.

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