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Scaling Scrum: Enterprise Scrum

16 Jul 2019

Enterprise Scrum (ES) is a Business Agility framework pioneered by the late Mike Beedle.  

As one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto, he developed this model through countless practical adaptations and continuous testing.  His chief goal was to make Scrum essentials more general and effective. 

Like its parent methodology, ES is adaptive and consumer-centric. It revolves around continuous delivery and a range of metrics for measuring success. 

Moreover, it champions various general principles for scaling Scrum to diverse business cases, departments, and domains.  Special focus is on large projects, portfolios, and programs. In fact, the hallmark of ES is that it can be applied to global corporations. 

Enterprise Scrum Basics

Enterprise Scrum aims to adapt and expand Scrum beyond its natural habitat. It stretches the foundations in a way previously thought impossible. 

In other words, ES promises to make Scrum work in any kind of environment. And this is not just abstract theoretical aspiration. So far, the methodology has added value across industries and companies of all shapes and sizes. 

Examples of successful implementation include software development, but also sales, HR, finance, marketing, asset management, etc. 

So, what is Enterprise Scrum exactly? 

In a nutshell, it’s an endeavor of making the whole company more agile. It encompasses all levels of management, programs, processes, and projects. 

The first thing to realize is that it isn’t dependent on a particular culture. It’s general in nature and offers both prescriptive and descriptive guidelines. 

At the same time, the framework is also explicit and formal to a certain extent. 

There’s a set of key parameters and steps you need to follow via ES Configuration set. What is more, you can utilize various configuring options to tailor the methodology to your organization and industry sector. 

Laying the Groundwork 

The basic goal of ES is simple: to produce the most value in the shortest timeframe and delight everyone.  In order to do that, companies have to stay quick on their feet and embrace innovation. 

Balance is right at the core of the ES model. It entails the equilibrium between profits, employee happiness, social impact, and customer satisfaction. 

Neither of these values must overshadow any of the other three. 

Notice gold standards proclaimed in the Scrum Guide apply as usual. But, Enterprise Scrum also adds a few twists. First off, it emulates the general management style of startups. 

Some of the main techniques you can employ are:

  • Lean Startup
  • Beyond Budgeting
  • Management 3.0
  • Exponential Organizations
  • Value Proposition Design
  • Blue Ocean Strategy 

They all complement rules of Enterprise Scrum in significant ways. For instance, Management 3.0 is quite descriptive and it can be used to tweak the framework based on your specific needs. 

Furthermore, we must underline the important changes ES introduces. 

Some of them are a matter of new lingo, which is meant to avoid confusion. That being said, other tweaks imply practical divergence.  They alter basic Scrum roles, artifacts, and ceremonies. 

Main Differences 

First off, the Product Owner is now called Business Owner. The Scrum Master is a Coach and Team retains its name. All these roles function in the same way, albeit team structure and number change.  

Also, multiple teams can have one Business Owner/Coach. 

Secondly, all Scrum meetings you’re used to are present in the ES framework. The strong emphasis is on solving cross-team dependencies, creating work agreements, and getting rid of impediments. 

When it comes to artifacts, we have a Value List (VL) instead of a Product Backlog. 

It contains all the things that must be “Done” in order to create value.  Bear in mind that value doesn’t have to involve a shippable product. Any type of work (research, for example) can be measured, managed and reported as a value list item (VLI). 

Sprints exist in ES, but we now refer to them as time-boxed Cycles. They break down the entirety of work into manageable bits. 

Novelty is that they are unlimitedly recursive— you can have multiple ongoing cycles of varying lengths.  Anything from a week to a year is common, although the IT industry still sticks to cycles that last from one to four weeks. 

The Art of Capturing Value 

Generating business value is the main overarching goal. It’s monitored through the balance of metrics (parameters). 

Namely, value items have their Definition of Ready (DOR), Definition of Done (DOD), and other measures. They vary depending on the type of work. Nevertheless, they all have to be met within a Cycle. 

Rather than obsessing over coveted velocity, Enterprise Scrum allows you to have as many metrics as you want. The list of 80+ of them includes things like customer satisfaction, profit, compliance level, etc.  

As for reporting, there is only one mandatory mechanism and it’s the Scrum Board. Apart from that, you’re free to choose from all manner of reporting tools. ES does encourage visualization though, so you might want to have your own canvas for charting success.  

Oh, and feel free to roll out new techniques with specific parameters attached. These additions should promote new steps and fine-tune the framework to work better in your particular situation. 

Optimization is always fair game, but only as long as it forwards your goals. Customizable parts of the framework are where the immense potential lies. 

Final Considerations 

Transparency is the inherent characteristic of Enterprise Scrum and there are multiple ways to cultivate it. 

One basic requirement is to open the channels of communication. Likewise, dismantle top-down hierarchy and do away with “canned solutions” and “repeatable processes”. In the place of this obsolete approach, put together a network of self-organizing, motivated teams. 

You have a whole array of structuring options to pick from. 

And regardless of your choices, it’s necessary to make employees feel valued and happy. So, provide adequate coaching and training. Ensure a considerable amount of autonomy: grant members ability to test, inspect, and adapt anything that shapes their workflow. 

Delegation of work and responsibility and close collaboration are integral parts of the culture ES promotes. These pillars enable you to evolve your practices over time. 

Each new cycle should bring a new process of reviewing and improving. Propelled by it, you should be able to get more things done without sacrificing the quality of work.