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Consulting: Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

SAFe Scaled Agile Framework

Most businesses are reaching a good adoption of agile practices in their teams and are now grappling with how to extend agility as a capability to their entire business operations. Often, a systematic approach is needed to re-define the enterprise vision for the expected benefits of increased agility, to re-structure operations around value creation (also called value streams) and to scale up collaboration and alignment on shared objectives across the enterprise.

SAFe™ – the Scaled Agile Framework® – is an increasingly popular approach for the creation of agility at the enterprise scale. Initially outlined in books and as an open framework by Dean Leffingwell, the approach draws upon and combines elements of Lean thinking, Agile development techniques and concepts of Product Development Flow. Through field experience at enterprise scale in many organisations, SAFe has evolved into a broad and deep framework of guidance, which can be accessed on-line at www.scaledagileframework.com.

For Executives and Leadership Teams, we offer a one-day Scaling Agile SAFe Introduction and Visioning workshop, which allows leaders to define their vision and outcomes from an enterprise agile capability transformation and which provides an overview of the key Scaling patterns and organisational aspects of the SAFe framework.

Our SAFe Consultancy Services

Please see below for an overview of the SAFe Consultancy Services that we offer.

To discuss any of the above SAFe Consultancy Services further, please contact the Agil8 Team.

The SAFe Approach

SAFe Consulting - Scaled Agile FrameworkThe SAFe™ approach is structured into a four level pattern, which is designed to be tailored and adapted to your enterprise’s own context, with additional or fewer levels as required for each implementation.

At the top level in SAFe the Portfolio Management function manages strategic alignment with the rest of the enterprise, budget allocation, governance and compliance. This function is responsible for a major cultural shift from project based to products-based organisation, allocating funding to value-streams capacity, and the creation of a more agile, outcome-focused governance process, a blueprint of which is described in SAFe.

It is critical that the teams and programmes (teams of teams) structures are aligned to how value is created in this portfolio and that these structures are revisited at least annually as they are likely to evolve with changes in strategy and with innovation. We offer a 1-2 day Portfolio Value Stream Mapping workshop to work with your in-house Portfolio team and Executives to identify optimal ways of organising around your current and emerging value streams.

The Portfolio function describes its strategy with a set of outcome focused, measurable Investment Themes, typically defined for the next 6-12 months. In collaboration with Business and Architectural teams, Epics to support each Investment Theme will be created – these are large scale development programmes, which would span multiple releases but will be first validated via a Minimal Viable Product approach. The Portfolio Backlog will be visualised via Kanban-based pull system in order to manage the flow of Epics and ensure that the economic basis for decision making is quantitative and transparent.

The Programme Level

The SAFe Programme level provides the essential glue to ensure that the work of a number of Agile teams (typically 50 people or more) is aligned with the organisation’s strategic Vision and Roadmaps as well as Value Streams. Programme level priorities are managed by Product Management and a lightweight agile Program Increment planning and governance process. This is designed to help prevent the work of multiple Agile teams becoming misaligned and difficult to integrate. SAFe provides a number of tools and techniques to address the typical challenges of focusing the efforts of large programmes to deliver maximum return on investment (ROI).

Program Increment Planning

The primary practice of SAFe, the Program Increment Planning is advised to happen every 8-12 weeks, to help create visibility of roadmaps, plan with the actual teams for external and internal milestone events and allow for better forecasting and risk management. To prepare for your first Program Increment planning event, we offer a Program Increment Maturity Assessment service which allows you and your leadership teams to close any gaps and address structural blockers that are preventing you from scaling up agility to your Programme.

When you are ready for your first Program Increment launch, you could benefit from a pair of experienced facilitators via our Program Increment Facilitation service. We will accompany, lead and mentor your in-house Scrum Masters and Release Train Engineers (Program level Scrum Master role) and in-house stakeholders in their first large scale agile planning event.

Investment in DevOps

Another essential scaling pattern in SAFe is the advance definition of investment in DevOps which allows for continuous frequent delivery of value safely to production environments, Non-Functional requirements (security, scalability, performance among others), continuous refactoring and architectural evolution via the creation of investment into an Architectural ‘Runway’. In addition, a System Team is often established to create initial infrastructure and then support and share the Agile teams’ system-level continuous integration and end-to-end testing efforts.

Depending on your current investment in DevOps your team’s dedication to technological health, your time to market and cost of quality could be significantly reduced. We offer a DevOps Maturity Assessment service that can highlight the gaps and help you prioritise investments in these technological enablers to maximise Return on Investment from your efforts.

The Team Level

Ultimately, the success of creating enterprise agility will depend on the leadership buy-in to form cross-functional, truly empowered agile teams – who are able to define what to build and how to design, deliver and operate products and solutions. The SAFe Team level describes team practices from a palette of Scrum, Kanban and eXtreme Programming (XP) and each team to include an empowered Product Owner. Often, a re-organisation is required to ensure that Agile teams are aligned to how value is created to internal and external customers in your enterprise (Value streams) and that all the external dependencies of these teams on competence, approvals, systems are minimised.

Thus whereas Scrum focuses on the Agile process for a single team and has little to say about multi-team environments, SAFe goes far beyond concepts like Scrum-of-Scrums to ensure that large programmes can see the wood for the trees and deliver maximum ROI in line with their Vision, Roadmap and Portfolio Investment Themes.