How are agile release trains formed in practice? A case study in a large financial corporation

Abheeshta Putta*, Maria Paasivaara, Casper Lassenius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
270 Downloads (Pure)


The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is currently the most widely adopted framework for scaling agile in the software intensive industry. Despite this, there exists very little scientific research on the transformation process, as well as on the challenges and success factors of using SAFe in large-scale organizations. To start filling in this research gap, we conducted a case study by investigating the formation of agile release trains and the related challenges in a large financial organization adopting SAFe. We conducted 24 interviews with 27 interviewees, after which we analyzed the transcribed interviews using open and axial coding. The SAFe transformation started by forming a pilot train with teams that already had experience in agile practices. The success of the pilot led to the launching of new release trains. The forming of new agile release trains was challenging due to politics, difficulties in identifying the value streams, and the avoidance of a radical restructuring of the organization. These challenges led to opting for an organic way of transformation. Management organized several workshops to identify stakeholders for the second train. This was followed by team members choosing their teams based on skills and interests. The last two trains were formed using Lego workshops. The most significant challenges after forming the release trains at the case organization were struggles with existing projects and challenges due to inter-train dependencies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAgile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming - 20th International Conference, XP 2019, Proceedings
EditorsSteven Fraser, François Coallier, Philippe Kruchten
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9783030190330
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventInternational Conference on Agile Software Development - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 21 May 201925 May 2019
Conference number: 20

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Business Information Processing
ISSN (Print)1865-1348


ConferenceInternational Conference on Agile Software Development
Abbreviated titleXP


  • Agile release trains
  • Challenges
  • SAFe
  • Scaled agile framework


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