With so many Agile methodologies out there it can be really tough to know which is the right one, and picking the right one is absolutely critical for your project. It’s critical because each has it’s own niche and each comes with it’s own weight and cost. It is so important that I can’t say it enough: pick the wrong methodology and you’re sailing in stormy seas. This doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get to your destination, it just means that it’s going to be a rough trip. Pick the right methodology and waters are smooth.
When I was a kid, I had a beat-up orange 1972 Camaro. I worked on that car constantly just to keep it running, but I became really good at it. Straight out of high school, I went to work at a car repair shop and after a couple of months I became a Rockstar, working on nothing but police cars and fire trucks. Ten years later, I was done working on cars and altered careers, but the former mechanic still comes out of me every once in a while. Recently I was asked about the differences in a few of the Agile methodologies, and just like that, the mechanic in me came out again. I drew a comparison of the methodologies in Agile to cars and trucks. People find it relatable and fundamentally easy to understand.
Here is that same explanation below:
There are four common methodologies used. Of those four, 2 are base methodologies (Kanban and Scrum) and 2 are scaling methodologies (LeSS and SAFe). Each has a niche but more importantly each comes with weight and cost. Now, all Agile methodologies are considered “Light Weight” methodologies when compared to traditional project management, but some are lighter and some are heavier, and with weight comes cost.
Starting with lightest of all is Kanban. I usually recommend it for newbies in the Agile world or for smaller projects. It’s very flexible, has a wide variety of uses, is simple to run, doesn’t require specialized roles, and can be scalable. It is the VW Bug of the Agile world: light, cheap to drive and operate, simple, reliable, easy to learn on, great for first timers, and customizable.
Next is Scrum. Scrum is the “Family Truckster” of the Agile world. It’s larger, a little heavier, and costs a bit more. The benefit is that it’s more capable, roomier, and carries more people and luggage. The down side is that it’s more expensive to operate and can only be loaded down so much before it stops helping and starts hindering.
Next is Large Scale Scrum (LeSS). This is like a truck: flexible, can carry loads of various sizes, doesn’t require specialized skills, a little more expensive to operate, and generally used for a singular purpose.
Last is SAFe. This is the big rig of the Agile world. SAFe can carry immense loads and a wide variety of items. The downside is that it is expensive to own, operate and requires specialized skills.
So if it’s your first time behind the wheel, the VW bug (Kanban) is probably a good choice for you. If you are carrying huge loads, don’t try and stuff them into the Family Truckster (Scrum). Go for the big rig (SAFe). Hopefully this helps you pick the right vehicle for the job.