Let’s take a look at What Advanced Level Scaled Agile Framework is and how it improves workflow in an organization step by step.
1. What do you think are some issues that organizations face when scaling agile principles and practices?
A common complaint with agile development is that it doesn’t scale well, for reasons like
- Lack of long-term planning & coping with longer planning horizons
- Lack of agile practices at management levels
- Way too many team members to collaborate and manage
- Lack of synchronization and common goal among teams
- Dealing with delegated authority
- Multiple sources of requirements from multiple teams
- Unmapped dependencies creating unexpected issues and obstacles
2. SAFe is based on Lean Product Development
What is the goal of Lean thinking? The goal of Lean is to deliver maximum customer value while minimizing waste and providing the highest possible value to the customer and society as a whole. To accomplish this:
- Lean thinking optimizes the flow of products and services
- Lean-Agile principles provide a better understanding of the system development process
- It incorporates new tools and techniques that leaders and teams can use to deliver the best results
- Emphasizes more on respecting people and culture
3. Does SAFe follow Agile Architecture or does it have its own model?
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is based on Agile Architecture which applies to all the levels in SAFe. It is based on nine immutable, underlying Lean-Agile principles:
- Take an economic view
- Apply system thinking
- Assume variability; preserve options
- Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles
- Base milestones on the objective evaluation of working systems
- Visualize & limit WIP, reduce batch sizes, & manage queue length
- Apply cadence; synchronize with cross-domain planning
- Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
- Decentralize decision-making
4. What are Product Managers responsible for in SAFe?
The Product Manager has content authority at the program level and is responsible for Program Vision and Program Backlog. Listed below are the primary responsibilities of the Product Manager in the context of a single Agile Release Train.
- Understand customer needs and participate in the validation of the proposed solutions
- Has the responsibility to understand and support portfolio work
- Develop and communicate the program vision to the development teams and define the roadmap
- Manage the flow of work through the program Kanban and into the program backlog
- Participate in PI meetings and Inspec & Adapt workshops
5. What are the roles and responsibilities of a Release Train Engineer (RTE)?
The core responsibilities of the RTE are as follows:
- Manage & optimize the flow of value through mechanisms such as Program Kanban, Inspect & Adapt workshops, and PI planning
- Aggregate Team PI Objectives into Program PI Objectives and publish them for visibility and transparency
- Encourage the collaboration between all the teams and Solution Architects, Engineering, and User Experience team, etc
- Work with Product Owners, Product Management and other value stream stakeholders to help ensure strategy and execution alignment
- Track impediments and help manage risks and dependencies
- As a chief scrum master, coach leaders, teams, and Scrum Masters in Lean-Agile practices and mindsets
6. What do you know about the Value Stream Level of SAFe?
The value stream layer was introduced between the ART and Portfolio layers as part of SAFe 4.0. It is intended for builders of large and complex solutions, that typically require multiple ARTs as well as the contribution of Suppliers. Value Stream Level is optional and the primary purpose of this level is to apply Lean-Agile approaches to define, build, and deploy large, mission-critical solutions. Building such solutions requires additional constructs, artifacts, and coordination. This level contains
- An Economic Framework which provides financial boundaries for Value Stream decision-making
- A Solution Intent as a repository to keep track of intended and actual solution behavior
- A Solution Context, which describes the way the solution fits in the deployment environment
- Capabilities that describe the larger behaviors of the solution
7. What are the Shared Services and how can the SAFe framework benefit from them?
Shared Services are special roles that are necessary for the success of an Agile Release Train (ART) and Solution Train but that cannot be dedicated full time. Potential members of shared services typically include:
- Agile & software/system engineering coaches
- Desktop support
- Application/web portal management
- Data modeling, data engineering, and database support
- Enterprise and information architecture
- Infrastructure and tools management
- Security specialist
- Technical writers
Since they are special roles, often single-sourced, and typically quite busy, each ART and value stream must plan to engage the resources they need when they need them.
8. What is the purpose of the Portfolio Level?
The Portfolio is at the highest level in SAFe. It provides constructs like principles, practices, and roles organizing the Lean-Agile Enterprise around the flow of value via one or more Value Streams. The portfolio has a bidirectional connection to the business:
- The first way is to provide the strategic themes that guide the portfolio to the larger, and ever-changing business objectives. These strategic themes connect the portfolio to the evolving enterprise business strategy, provide business context for decision-making within the portfolio and affect investments in value streams and serve as inputs to the portfolio, solution, and program backlogs. Strategic themes are not created by the business in isolation, rather, key portfolio stakeholders participate in that process.
- The second direction provides a constant flow of feedback from the portfolio back to enterprise stakeholders. This includes value stream key performance indicators, and qualitative assessments of the current state of the portfolio’s solutions for market purposes, along with any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are present at the portfolio level.
9. What are the responsibilities of a System Team?
A System Team is a special Agile Team on the Agile Release Train (ART). They assist in building and supporting the Agile development environment infrastructure, including continuous integration, building environments, testing platforms, testing automation frameworks, and integrating code from Agile Team. the primary responsibilities of the System team include:
- Building development infrastructure that supports high ART velocity
- System Integration, teams participate in different meetings to define integration and test backlog items, run solution-level integration scripts
- Perform End-to-End and Solution Performance Testing
- Integrate and show progress at the system and solution demo
What are the program-level roles in SAFe?
The new redefined role structure at the program level is as stated below:
|System Team||A System Team is a special Agile Team on the Agile Release Train (ART) that assists in building and supporting the Agile development environment including continuous integration, building environments, testing platforms, and testing automation frameworks, and integrating code from Agile Team|
|Product Manager||Product Managers are responsible for identifying Customer needs, prioritizing Features, guiding the work through the Program Kanban and developing the program Vision and Roadmap.|
|System Architect||System Architect is an individual who defines the overall architecture of the system, helps define nonfunctional requirements, determines the major elements and subsystems, and helps define the interfaces and collaborations among them.|
|Release Train Engineer (RTE)||The Release Train Engineer is the Chief Scrum Master, who facilitates program-level processes and program execution, escalates impediments, manages risk, and helps drive program-level continuous improvement.|
|Release Management Team||The release team looks after the process of managing, planning, scheduling, and controlling a software build through different stages and environments; including testing and deploying software releases.|
10. What are the responsibilities of the System Architect/Engineer?
The SAFe System Architects/Engineers are the individuals and teams who have the technical responsibility for the overall architectural and engineering design of the system and solution, respectively. Some of their responsibilities include:
- Participate in planning and high-level design of the solution and explore solution alternatives
- Define subsystems and their interfaces
- Allocate responsibilities to subsystems
- Understand solution deployment, and communicate requirements with other teams
- Work with Customers, stakeholders, and Suppliers to establish high-level Solution Intent
- Operate within the economic framework to validate the economic impact of design decisions
The role of an Architect is very common in software development and has been included in SAFe as one of the critical roles at the program and portfolio levels.
11. How does SAFe support alignment?
Alignment is necessary to keep up with rapid change, disruptive competitive forces, and geographically distributed teams. More importance should be given to enterprise business objectives over team goals. SAFe supports alignment in the following ways:
- It is supported by clear lines of content authority
- PI Objectives and iteration goals are used to communicate expectations and commitments
- Cadence and synchronization are applied to ensure that things stay in alignment
- All the work is visible, debated, resolved and transparent
- Lean prioritization keeps the stakeholders engaged in continuous, agreed-to, rolling-wave prioritization
- Architectures and user feedback help ensure that the Solution is technologically sound, robust, and scalable
12. How is decentralized decision-making important in SAFe?
The primary intention of decentralized decision-making is to deliver value in the sustainably shortest lead time. Waiting for the approval of the decision from higher authorities introduces a delay and can decrease the fidelity of the decision, due to the lack of local context, plus changes in fact patterns that occur during the wait time. decentralized decision-making reduces delays, improves product development flow, and enables faster feedback and more innovative solution.
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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Hope this Article was Helpful!!!!!
Written By Elizabeth Wambui
Auspicious Agile & Blockchain Lt