Would someone please shed some light on the differences between:

Background: I work in a company with about 50 developers, and multiple scrum teams. They do, however, work in different projects that are unrelated - thus no need to "scale" them as far as I understand (I might be wrong, thus asking this question). This question is an attempt to obtain a general comparison for a beginner between the main "scaled scrum/agile" frameworks/methods/standards listed above.

Questions to drive the analysis are:

  • Why use one rather than the other?
  • Does one cover more areas than the other?
  • What is the "most popular" framework as of today?
  • What are their strengths or weaknesses?
  • Moreover, certification-wise, is any of these more "recognised" than the other?
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    I like this question, but I am afraid it may be closed as "too broad". Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 8:05
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    Any tip on how can I make it less broad? I tried to guide the response with 3 questions (after the bullet points).
    – testTester
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 9:01
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    Unfortunately, broad or not, the answers to your questions are merely a matter of opinion and therefore off-topic for this site.
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 9:28
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    Hi @MarvMills, thanks for the comment. I respectfully disagree the answers to be merely a matter of opinion, since at this point we haven't seen any yet as to judge. Note that I am asking information around 3 existing frameworks based on a few criterias. These are admittedly rough criterias exactly because I don't know much about these frameworks yet (and thus can use the answers, if any, as a starting point).
    – testTester
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 9:41
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    This is hardly an answer in itself, but the guys at agilescaling.org put together a nice matrix that has a fairly comprehensive comparison of the different scaling frameworks: agilescaling.org/ask-matrix.html
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 15:34

3 Answers 3


Agile Scaling maintains a fairly comprehensive list of scaling frameworks. Their "ASK Matrix" provides some very general information and compares the frameworks on a number of different factors including intended scaling size, coverage levels at team, portfolio, and enterprise, and more.


  • +1 Looks very complete, contains answers to most to the OP's questions. Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 18:04

You really have too many questions in this one to be able to give specific answers, but I'll give it a go anyway ...

First off, I'm a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and I teach Scaled Professional Scrum - how to apply Nexus to scale your product development effort.

That being said, I think of any "framework" as a set of rules, practices, guidelines, principles, roles, ... that you should apply wisely. Some "frameworks" comes with a lot of material (SAFe) and other very little (Nexus). Is one better than the other? I think not. I think that different people and organizations have different needs, depending on what they already know, their culture, their software, their business models, their staff, skills available, etc.

I very much prefer this view over any other comparison:

Given what we know, have and want - what do we think will help us?

Some will need very little guidance, some need all support wheels they can get. Some are happy figuring out what will work for them (embracing inspect and adapt) and some don't want to think or figure out for themselves what will work for them in their context. Does this make any one framework universally better than the other?

If you provide more context, such as "this is our setup, environment, product, ..." people can make recommendations based on their experience as to what may guide you to increased (business) agility.
But as for the general answer to a general question, I think this is at a level where you're asking "what are some weaknesses comparing strawberries and fruit cocktail". One is nicely served with champagne and the other at a kids' party. Both are fine in their right context.

  • +1 for the "comparing strawberries and fruit cocktail" example.
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 22:59

Q: Why use one rather than the other?

Its important to first understand why different frameworks exist to scale scrum or agile teams. In my view, the answer is money. After the agile manifesto's publication in early 2000s and its subsequent fame, Scrum soon became the "market leader" in the world of agile. Scrum did not, theoritically at least, address how to deal with scaled setups. As a result, many organizations have emerged attempting to address this as well grasp the largest portion of the massive cake of agile development frameworks.

Scrum became the marker leader among agile frameworks for a number of reasons but, IMHO, simplicity and low barrier to learn and adopt were the most important.

This is exactly why I would encourage using Nexus. More on why Nexus below.

"Q: Does one cover more areas than the other?

The answer is yes if by more areas you mean more material. However, it is important to stick to basics of Scrum (empiricism) and the underlying principles of agile development when looking at all these frameworks.

It is critical you do Scrum/Agile right before you scale. If you must scale, I would recommend heading to Scrum.org and looking at Nexus but only if you are comfortable with Scrum. Scaling scrum doesn't solve your problems, it scales those problems.

So simply put, IMHO, there is no such thing as more areas.

Q: What is the "most popular" framework as of today?

Definitely SAFe. Well, at least in Europe and based on a quick search on Indeed for job vacancies for SAFe as compared to the other frameworks.

Q: What are their strengths or weaknesses?

There is a tendency to "scale" scrum every time things appear large. More often than not, scaling scrum is just unnecessary. For example, as you mentioned, when working on unrelated projects.

I have almost never seen a scaled scrum setup with the appropriate number of scrum masters involved (I have been involved with Scrum for only 5 or so years). This tells me that the lone Scrum Master with a growing team decided to use scaled scrum to continue being the "Scrum Manager", and not Scrum master. You cannot scale scrum when you are not even scrumming. I digress, however.

Without attempting to compile an exhaustive, and unnessary ist, I would say the biggest strengths of Nexus are:

  1. It beautifully extends Scrum by providing what Scrum's and Nexus' leading author Ken Schwaber calls an exoskeleton.
  2. It keeps the "material" at a minimum so its concise and fairly quick to learn.
  3. It has a low barrier to learn and get certified in.

Its weakness would be: Lack of widespread adoption given its relatively new (although the best, IMHO) and that means if you join a scaled Scrum setup, you may need to quickly learn the terms as used in other most widespread frameworks.

You can swap this as strenghts and weaknesses of the other "heavy on material" scaled scrum frameworks.

Q: Moreover, certification-wise, is any of these more "recognised" than the other?

As mentioned above, SAFe appears to be most in demand. However, I would strongly discourage you from joining an organization insisting on SAFe or CSM certification as opposed to one of the other Scrum certifications like PMI-ACP, PSM and so on.

This is actually a good indication of an organization not truly adopting the underlying values of Scrum, Agile or Lean. Where is the Kaizen or opennes in insisting on hiring SAFe certified as opposed to Nexus certified or simply Scrum certified for that matter.

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