Given the growth in the popularity of the Scaled Agile Framework, it should come as no surprise that this growth is also fueling an unprecedented demand for Agile Certifications. Here are the top most asked scaled agile questions that would help you get a step closer to understanding the Scaled Agile Framework. Our Company Auspicious Agile and BlockChain Ltd is a FinTech company based in Singapore, Asia. We offer our clients Scaled Agile and ICAgile certification.
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Let’s begin by taking a look at the most frequently asked questions in Scaled Agile Framework.
Let’s begin with the first section of Scaled Agile Framework Introduction
Beginner Level Scaled Agile Framework Learning Pointers
Scaled Agile Framework Introduction
1. What is Agile?
This is a controversial question and many people find it difficult to define or explain.
I have narrowed it down for you to understand what is Agile by definition.
Agile is a mindset, a philosophy, more like a way of thinking, a movement focusing on communication, team-thinking, intrinsic motivation, empowerment, innovative walks, flow, and value creation while developing a product.
Other frameworks that are based on agile are
- Test-Driven Development
- Feature Driven Development
- Extreme programming
- Lean Software Development
2. What are some agile frameworks available for large-scale enterprise projects?
Few popular large-scale agile frameworks are
- Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
- Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD)
- Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)
- Scrum at Scale
- Spotify Model
3. What is the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?
The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is a set of organizational and workflow patterns for implementing agile practices at an enterprise scale. The framework is a body of knowledge that includes structured guidance on roles and responsibilities, how to plan and manage the work, and values to uphold.
It is based on three primary bodies of knowledge:
- Lean Product Development
- Systems Thinking
4. What is the difference between Agile and SAFe Framework?
Agile is a mindset, a philosophy, more like a way of thinking, a set of principles for actions that keep a software development team organized and efficient. It is a broad term that covers a number of frameworks like scrum.
On the contrary, SAFe is an acronym for the Scaled Agile Framework, which is an agile framework available for large-scale enterprise projects. It adds extra layers of communication and controls to allow people to use agile frameworks (like Scrum) with very large groups.
5. What are the four levels of the latest version of SAFe?
The latest version of SAFe has four levels:
- Team Level
- Program Level
- Value Stream Level
6. What are the core values and principles of SAFe lean-based or agile-based?
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is based on both Lean and Agile principles. SAFe supports four Core Values, which are:
- Alignment – It is necessary to keep up with rapid change & competitive forces
- Built-in quality – Ensures that every piece of the product reflects quality standards
- Transparency – To achieve the best results transparency and trust within the organization is important
- Program Execution – SAFe places an intense focus on working systems and business outcomes
7. What is an Agile Release Train (ART)?
Agile Release Train (ART) is a long-lived, self-organizing team of Agile Teams., which, along with other stakeholders, incrementally plans, develops, and delivers a continuous flow of incremental releases of value in a Value Stream.
What’s Program Increment (PI) and how does it apply in a SAFe transforming organization?
A Program Increment is a timebox during which an Agile Release Train (ART) delivers incremental value in the form of the working, tested software and systems. Just like how you have an iteration for the agile team, there is a Program Increment for ARTs. PIs are usually 8-12 weeks long. Generally, PI is of four development iterations and one Innovation and Planning (IP) iteration.
9. Who is the Release Train Engineer?
Release Train Engineer, is a servant leader and the chief scrum master for the Agile Train. The RTE plays a critical role in leading Agile Release Trains (ARTs) to deliver value. This means that the RTE must create the right environment, have the right conversations, facilitate the right meetings, and gather the right people to make decisions based on the right data. The RTE facilitates optimizing the flow of value through the program using various mechanisms, such as the SAFe Release Train Engineer (RET), Inspect & Adapt workshops, and PI planning.
10. What is Iteration Review in SAFe?
Iteration Review provides a way to gather immediate, contextual feedback from the team’s stakeholders on a regular cadence. The purpose of the iteration review is to measure the team’s progress by showing working stories to the Product Owner and other stakeholders to get their feedback. In other words, It is a cadence-based event in which every team inspects the increment at the end of every iteration to assess progress, and then adjusts the team backlog based on the feedback received in the meeting. All the work that is done during the iteration is reviewed during the iteration review meeting.
Apart from Scrum, which frameworks can be used at the team level?
Scrum is widely used at the team level but it is not the only practice that is being followed in SAFe. The teams in SAFe can use the Scaled Agile Framework which works best for their team and the delivery. They can opt for Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), Scrum, or even Scrum with XP (ScrumXP).
11. What is the difference between Kanban and Scrum? How are they different from other teams?
Kanban is a method that helps teams facilitate the flow of value by visualizing workflow, establishing WIP (Work In Process) limits measuring throughput, and continuously improving their process. They are used at the Portfolio, Large Solution, Program, and Team levels of SAFe. Scrum is a methodology that structures workflow and team culture to deliver projects in short timelines. Kanban delivers tasks continuously until the project is finished, while Scrum delivers chunks of deliverables in one- to four-week periods.
The table below may be able to show you how SAFe5 works!
Intermediate Level Scaled Agile Framework Questions In Organizations
1. When and where does the Scaled Agile Framework Apply?
Let’s look at how Scaled Agile Framework is used and applied in the workflow in an organization. The table below simply shows and describes the advantages and generally the description Scaled Agile Framework.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) can be used when:
- The team is interested to implement an agile approach consistently across larger, multi-team programs and portfolios
- Multiple teams are already implementing Agile but regularly facing obstacles, delays, and failures
- Teams want to work independently and in a decentralized decision-making environment
- There is a need to scale Agile across the organization but not sure what new roles may be needed or what existing roles need to change and how
- An organization needs to improve its product development lead time and want to know how other companies have succeeded in scaling Agile with SAFe
2. what is a Scrum of Scrums.
This is one of the commonly asked scrum master key roles. For example, let’s say there is an active project with seven teams working on it. The number of members of each team is also seven and are responsible to lead their own scrum meeting. But, in order to coordinate and communicate with different teams, they need to organize a separate scrum meeting. This meeting is called the scrum of Scrums. The responsible person from each team attends the meeting and discusses their work and progress.
The difference between Customers and Business Owners?
Customers are an integral part of Lean-Agile development and are the ultimate economic buyer of every solution. Whether internal or external they are increasingly demanding and they have choices. They want more value and they want their solution providers to continuously improve the quality of their products and services.
Business Owners are a critical group of three to five (4 – 6) stakeholders who have shared fiduciary, governance, efficacy, and ROI responsibility for the value delivered by a specific Agile Release Train (ART).
3. What is a Value Stream in SAFe?
A value stream is a long-lived series of steps used to deliver value, from customer order to delivery of a tangible result for the customer. The image below illustrates the anatomy of a value stream.
An event triggers the flow of value, it could be a customer request or a new feature requirement. It ends when some value has been delivered like a shipment, customer purchase, or solution deployment. The activities in between are steps that the enterprise uses to accomplish the task. So, basically, a value stream contains the people who do the work, the systems they develop or operate, and the flow of information and materials
3. The suppliers in SAFe, What do they do?
Well, the goal of Lean-Agile principles is to deliver value to their customers in the shortest possible lead time and with the highest possible quality. To achieve that they engage Suppliers to develop and deliver components and subsystems. These suppliers have unique and distinctively competent skills and are experts in their technology.
They play a key role in SAFe and can have a large impact on lead time and value delivery of the Enterprise’s Value Streams. To achieve optimal results Suppliers become an extension of the culture and ethos of the enterprise, they are treated as true partners.
4. What is the relationship between Value Stream and Agile Release Train (ART)?
|Value Stream||Agile Release Train (ART)|
|A Value Stream is a long-lived series of steps that provide a continuous flow of value to the customer||An Agile Release Train is a long-lived, self-organizing team of Agile Teams that delivers a continuous flow of incremental releases of value in a Value Stream.|
5. What are the advantages of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?
Advantages of using SAFe are as follows:
- Offers the opportunity to tap into a relatively lightweight framework that creates efficiency in software development while maintaining the centralized decision-making necessary at the enterprise level
- Helps teams maintain alignment with business goals and achieve greater transparency
- Helps cross-functional teams collaborate more effectively
- Highly suitable for large organizations
How is the Continuous Delivery Pipeline associated with the Agile Release Train (ART)?
The Continuous Delivery Pipeline (sometimes just referred to as just ‘pipeline’) represents the workflows, activities, and automation needed to develop a new piece of functionality all the way from ideation to an on-demand release of value to the end-user. The pipeline consists of four elements:
- Continuous Exploration (CE)
- Continuous Integration (CI)
- Continuous Deployment (CD)
- Release on Demand
6. What is the final element of the Continuous Delivery Pipeline?
The final element of the Continuous Delivery Pipeline is Release on Demand. It is the ability to make the value available to customers all at once or in an impromptu mode, based on the
7. What is the Planning and innovation (PI)Iteration in SAFe?
An important aspect of SAFe is continuous improvement. which is achieved through periodic Planning and innovation sprints. PI iteration provides a regular, cadence-based opportunity for teams to work on activities that are difficult to fit into a continuous, incremental value delivery pattern. These may include:
- Time for innovation and exploring beyond the iterations dedicated to the delivery
- Working on technical infrastructure, tooling, and other impediments
- Education and awareness to support continuous learning and improvement
8. Is the customer a part of the Value Stream?
Yes, the customer is a part of the Value Stream. Customers are of two types:
- Internal customers can be from one of the departments within the organization requesting to build solutions around their requirements
- External customers are the ones who are the direct economic buyer of the solution
Customers support Lean and Agile principles and their active and continuous participation in the Solution definition, planning, demonstrations, and evolution are essential to successful Next, let’s move to the most asked questions by organizations and new practitioners when transiting to a Scaled Agile Framework.
As we come to the end of learning about SAFe and how to apply it! Am pleased to say that we offer our clients training in Agile certification and IC certification. Our coaches are skilled, certified, and equipped with the necessary tools. With an experience of over 20 years of working with reputable companies and practicing the scaled Agile framework methodology on a global level. This helps us understand the strains many companies in different regions face.
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Written By Elizabeth Wambui