Challenges and success factors for large-scale agile transformations: A systematic literature review

Kim Dikert, Maria Paasivaara, Casper Lassenius*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

485 Citations (Scopus)
2209 Downloads (Pure)


Agile methods have become an appealing alternative for companies striving to improve their performance, but the methods were originally designed for small and individual teams. This creates unique challenges when introducing agile at scale, when development teams must synchronize their activities, and there might be a need to interface with other organizational units. In this paper we present a systematic literature review on how agile methods and lean software development has been adopted at scale, focusing on reported challenges and success factors in the transformation. We conducted a systematic literature review of industrial large-scale agile transformations. Our keyword search found 1875 papers. We included 52 publications describing 42 industrial cases presenting the process of taking large-scale agile development into use. Almost 90% of the included papers were experience reports, indicating a lack of sound academic research on the topic. We identified 35 reported challenges grouped into nine categories, and 29 success factors, grouped into eleven categories. The most salient success factor categories were management support, choosing and customizing the agile model, training and coaching, and mindset and alignment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-108
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Systems and Software
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Adopting agile software development
  • Agile software development
  • Challenges
  • Large-scale agile
  • Organizational transformation
  • Success factors
  • Systematic literature review


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