Large-scale agile transformation at Ericsson: a case study

Maria Paasivaara*, Benjamin Behm, Casper Lassenius, Minna Hallikainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)
1004 Downloads (Pure)


Many large organizations are adopting agile software development as part of their continuous push towards higher flexibility and shorter lead times, yet few reports on large-scale agile transformations are available in the literature. In this paper we report how Ericsson introduced agile in a new R&D product development program developing a XaaS platform and a related set of services, while simultaneously scaling it up aggressively. The overarching goal for the R&D organization, distributed to five sites at two continents, was to achieve continuous feature delivery. This single case study is based on 45 semi-structured interviews during visits at four sites, and five observation sessions at three sites. We describe how the organization experimented with different set-ups for their tens of agile teams aiming for rapid end-to-end development: from component-based virtual teams to totally cross-functional, cross-component, cross-site teams. Moreover, we discuss the challenges the organization faced and how they mitigated them on their journey towards continuous and rapid software engineering. We present four lessons learned for large-scale agile transformations: 1) consider using an experimental approach to transformation, 2) consider implementing the transformation step-wise in complex large-scale settings, 3) team inter-changeability can be limited in a complex large-scale product — specialization might be needed, and 4) not using a common agile framework for the whole organization, in combination with insufficient common trainings and coaching may lead to a lack of common direction in the agile implementation. Further in-depth case studies on large-scale agile transformations, on customizing agile to large-scale settings, as well as on the use of scaling frameworks are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2550–2596
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adopting agile
  • Agile software development
  • Enterprise agile
  • Large-scale agile
  • Scaling agile


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