4 min read

Agile Methods: Scrum vs. Kanban vs. SAFe® vs. LeSS

Agile is more than just a buzzword in modern software development and project management. It represents a set of principles and practices aimed at helping teams work together more efficiently and effectively. However, 'Agile' can look different depending on the context and implementation. In this post, we take a look at five different approaches: SAFe®, LeSS, Scrum, Waterfall, and Kanban.


agile zusammenarbeitWhat exactly is agile work?

Agile is an approach where projects are divided into small units that are processed recurrently and in stages. This promotes closer team collaboration than with traditional working methods and ultimately allows for a swift and flexible response to changes. Customer opinions are also included in the project process, thus creating a continuous feedback loop. Structuring the work in sprints - these are short iterative development cycles (about a week to a month) - enables quick.



Scrum is an agile method that originally comes from software development. Unlike SAFe and LeSS, Scrum focuses more on individual teams. It is an agile management framework that emphasizes iterative and incremental work. It values bringing the team together daily and continuous improvement.

Scrum is particularly suitable for companies with simple organizational structures. Flat hierarchies simplify the process, yet within Scrum there are roles that help organize the project team. This structure promotes team collaboration and individual responsibility and allows teams to effectively respond to changing requirements.

Product Owner (PO)

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team. One of their main responsibilities is managing the Product Backlog. They determine which features are implemented in what order and are the main contact for questions and information about the product.

Scrum Team

The Scrum or Development Team consists of professionals who carry out the work to deliver a potential product increment at the end of each sprint. They self-organize and decide how to complete the work in the Sprint Backlog. The Development Team should be small, cross-functional, and self-sufficient.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master acts as a facilitator and coach, ensuring that the team correctly applies Scrum principles and practices. They support the Development Team and the Product Owner and assists in removing obstacles that might prevent the Development Team from achieving

SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework)

SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) is an agile framework with a strong focus on the enterprise level. It is intended for large organizations that have multiple teams, departments, and stakeholders working together. SAFe synchronizes the alignment, collaboration, and delivery of many agile teams. It scales Scrum and Kanban at the enterprise level, incorporating portfolio management, program management, and team level.

At team level, SAFe® has the same roles as Scrum. Additional roles are added at the program and portfolio levels.

SAFe® Program Portfolio Management (PPM)

This role is the highest decision-maker in a SAFe® environment. It articulates strategic objectives and concentrates investments on the most valuable work elements.

Release Train Engineer (RTE)

Der RTE ist der Scrum-Master für das Agile Release Train (ART), die primäre Wertlieferungskonstruktion von SAFe®. Der RTE ist verantwortlich für das Coaching der Teams in Agile und Scrum-Praktiken und für die Koordination der Teams für ein synchronisiertes Inkrement (Program Increment).

Solution Management

Solution Managers define capabilities and are responsible for multiple interacting areas (Agile Release Trains) concerning many stakeholder-based requirements and priorities in the underlying development value streams.

Epic Owners

Epic Owners are responsible for the definition, coordination, and communication of Epics (large, overarching initiatives) and for the impacts on the value stream and associated delivery structures.

Product Management

Essentially, Product Management in SAFe® corresponds to the role of the Product Owner in Scrum, but on a larger scale.

System Architect/Engineer

This role is responsible for managing and coordinating the technical standards and architectural governance beyond the train level.

Business Owners

Business Owners are key stakeholders who play an active role in product development and decision-making.

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LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)

LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) is an agile framework that utilizes the principles of the Scrum framework and applies them to large teams in large organizations. It is designed to facilitate the scaling of Scrum by minimizing bureaucracy and allowing teams to focus on high-quality development work.

The roles in LeSS also align with those of Scrum. Unlike Scrum, some LeSS implementations scale up the roles to handle larger projects. For example, there may be multiple Product Owners (a main PO and Area POs) to handle the size and complexity of the product backlog. However, this is a rather atypical approach and is referred to as LeSS Huge.


Kanban is an agile visual working method that emphasizes the visual organization of work. With Kanban, work is divided into discrete tasks and visualized on a Kanban board, making the workflow and bottlenecks easily recognizable. See what a Kanban board in Jira Work Management might look like.

View - board@2x

The choice of the right working method depends on the specific needs of your project or team. Whether it's a small, tightly linked team (Scrum, Kanban) or a large organization (SAFe, LeSS), the core of Agile remains the same: flexibility, communication, striving for continuous improvement, and high value creation.