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10 companies killing it at scaling agile

Christopher Null Freelance writer
scaling agile

By its very nature, agility is a challenge for large organizations. Its requirements of flexibility, experimentation, and the ability to pivot quickly in a dynamic environment seem inconsistent with the rigid structure of the enterprise.

But agility at scale can be achieved with the right framework and cultural mindset. These 10 innovative companies are proof, illuminating how others can reap the benefits of agile across the organization.


Originally designed with the waterfall method, Cisco's Subscription Billing Platform (SBP) project used separate design, build, test, and deployment teams, with each team working in sequence. This approach slowed the development process, resulting in extended release cycles, missed delivery dates, quality problems, and lots of overtime. 

Cisco adopted the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and introduced three agile release trains on SBP—capabilities, defects and fixes, and projects. The idea was to collaborate on building and testing small features within one SaaS component and delivering them to the system integration and testing team.

Cisco delivered the new release of SBP on schedule and with no overtime. Defects were reduced by 40% compared to previous waterfall releases, and defect removal efficiency increased by 14%, thanks to improved team collaboration.

LEGO Digital Solutions

LEGO Digital Solutions is an arm of the popular toy-brick maker that is responsible for communication with customers via computers, apps, wearables, and other channels. Initially composed of just five development teams that could collaborate easily, the group encountered new complexities as it expanded to more than 20 teams.

Teams were having success with Scrums and sprints, but they were struggling with client collaboration, cross-team alignment, platform development, and release planning. 

To address these issues, the group implemented the SAFe framework to add a program level between the teams and the portfolio management process at the top of the organization. The result has been a reduction in duplicated work, fewer dependency issues, improved planning and execution, and greater client trust.


When Barclays began its agile transformation, the financial services company already had scattered teams using an agile approach. But it wanted to grow and integrate its agile efforts into a more effective unit. It chose the learning-oriented Disciplined Agile Delivery approach and implemented agile coaching while making over the company's workspaces to be more collaborative.

Within a year, more than 800 teams had converted to an agile approach, and Barclays saw a 300% increase in throughput. At the same time, code complexity dropped by 50% on average across more than 80 applications, while test code coverage increased by 50%.

Equally notable, agile teams reported greater happiness, were often first to market with new products, and were most able to quickly pivot in response to feedback.

Panera Bread

With more than 1,700 bakery-cafes in the US and Canada, Panera Bread needed to speed delivery of its IT solutions to support its high growth and rapidly changing business. It began with a series of agile-training workshops, then piloted the new approach on two critical projects with the help of an agile coach. After those successes, it rolled out the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) framework across the enterprise.

Adopting DAD has led to quicker and more frequent delivery, higher-quality solutions, and an improved relationship between IT and the business. Digital sales now account for 25% of the company’s overall sales, thanks to the improved mobile ordering process, and Panera boasts one of the more successful customer loyalty programs in the business.


Product development for Ericsson's Media Gateway for Mobile Networks (M-MGw) was initially organized around component teams using a waterfall model. Product knowledge was limited to only a few people, and organizational silos created long lead times and feedback loops. Pressured by increasing competition, the company adopted agile and Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) to add flexibility and shorten release cycles.

M-MGw's transformation into a Scrum-based organization began with a few cross-functional pilot teams working in agile, while most of the organization remained in component teams. As the pilot teams shared their positive experiences with people outside those groups, enthusiasm grew, and the company scaled up to more than 15 self-organized teams ahead of its next release.

On top of increased efficiency and output, M-MGw transformed its thinking and process flow for the better. 

PlayStation Network

Each PlayStation product release requires the collaboration of more than 1,000 Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) engineering team members across eight cities. But using waterfall and Agile Scrum wasn't netting good results—cadence varied, with different groups iterating daily, weekly, or bi-monthly.

SIE leadership switched to SAFe to improve collaboration and organization. After about a month of coaching, the company launched its first agile release train. SIE now follows a strict cadence of two weeks with 12-week iterations, running six or seven iterations at a time.

Some 700 team members across 60 Scrum teams now use SAFe, and SIE has reduced initial planning time by 28% with the framework. Downtime was reduced, saving the company about $30 million a year.

John Deere

John Deere wrestled with missed delivery dates, quality issues, and lack of product ownership using a release train scaling approach to software delivery. Introducing agile practices and the LeSS framework, the company performed an organizational restructuring, creating cross-functional, co-located teams, a single product owner, and a high-quality product backlog

Within six months, the company saw improvements. Teams were more focused and able to reliably plan and forecast delivery dates. The quality problems that plagued releases were resolved, and teams started to consistently deliver on time. 


Fitbit was successfully using a Scrum approach to meet its rigid consumer holiday-driven product delivery schedule. But as the company and customer base grew, it became clear that the company would need to scale its process. Fitbit’s program management office director had previous experience with SAFe and helped spearhead its deployment at the company.

The company started with 12 Scrum teams at its initial Program Increment (PI) planning event, slowly adding more teams and functional groups with each successive PI. The company immediately saw increases in velocity and cadence, as well as team engagement. The year after deploying SAFe, Fitbit released four new products and shipped more than 22 million devices thanks to its successful scaling effort.


OpenLink developers were spending more time fixing quality issues with its asset trading and risk management software than they were improving functionality and developing new products. Moving to Disciplined Agile, the company followed a common process: Train the executive, product, and delivery teams, implement a couple of pilot projects, and make over workspaces to be more agile and collaborative.

Following the pilot projects' successes, the company scaled incrementally, adding about one team every two weeks until it had 24 teams using the disciplined agile framework within the first year.

Since then, OpenLink has seen improvements in productivity, defect counts, and customer-escalated issue. Further, improved morale and increased cross-team collaboration has led to more dependable delivery. 

Royal Philips

Time-to-market for this $26 billion medical technology company profoundly impacts millions of lives. With its release cycles averaging 18 months using a traditional development approach, Royal Philips implemented a Scrum framework overlaid with SAFe practices.

The improvements were dramatic. The average release cycle time dropped from 18 months to six, and the feature cycle time was reduced from more than 240 days to fewer than 100.

Consistently on-time sprint and PI deliveries led to the company achieving release on demand. Today, Royal Philips has more than four agile release trains running across various business units, with more than 3,700 people using the SAFe framework.

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