Architecture and agile scaling methods, get inspired by knowledge that is already out there

By Jelle Wissenburgh

When scaling agile development in practice, some organizations are still searching for the exact role of the architect and architecture. An example of this is agile development based on scrum. Until recently, there was no explicit role for Enterprise or IT architects within scrum. In fact, a scrum team has three roles: product owner, scrum master and a number of developers/testers. When scaling up, this leads to the risk of suboptimal implementations and an inefficient development process.

Agile development and architecture, Agile architecture, Agile frameworks

Architecture is indispensable in "large" environments:

As Agile development methods have become prevalent in software development and are also applied for large environments, several agile scaling methods are now also available. Agile scaling methods provide tools to apply agile development in situations where multiple concurrent teams are required. Well-known examples of frameworks that offer agile scaling methods are: Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Diciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), Nexus and the Spotify model.

Unlike the scrum framework, the current agile frameworks, meanwhile, recognize the need for architecture. Indeed, in all the frameworks mentioned, the architect and/or architecture has been given a place in the agile (scaling) methods. The interpretation of roles, processes and products still varies greatly from framework to framework. It varies from an elaboration in terms of roles, process and organization as, for example, within SAFe and DAD, a number of behavioral tips in LeSS to only the pointing out in Nexus and Spotify.

Doing the "right things" requires connection:

The connection between architecture and agile working is difficult to establish in practice. Architects within a standing organization tend to do architecture from waterfall thinking and vice versa, development practitioners often work from a single team perspective, without architecture frameworks. Experience shows that organizations struggle to recognize this and set it up properly.

It takes tenacity, creativity and detours from both sides to find each other. On the one hand, architects will have to let go of the tendency to employ the classic architecture process. On the other hand, developers will have to consciously look for direction and frameworks, within which they can make development happen.

Draw inspiration from agile frameworks:

Applying agile scaling methods through the use of agile is now becoming more commonplace, which is a good thing. Using a framework offers organizations, through shared best practices, opportunities to use agile development methods more effectively. Organizations should therefore more explicitly leverage the knowledge and experience that agile frameworks such as SAFe, DAD, Less, Nexus and Spotify bring rather than trying to do so on their own.

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