Scaled Agile Framework – SAFe for Lean Enterprises
SAFe is an online freely revealed knowledge base of proven, integrated patterns for implementing Lean-Agile development. It provides comprehensive guidance for work at the Portfolio, Large Solution, Program, and Team Levels. Follow this blog to get resources on lean agile.
While the SAFe knowledge base is freely available, it doesn’t implement itself. We provide abundant tactical guidance—such as the SAFe Implementation Roadmap—but there are aspects to large-scale transformations that unquestionably need the steady hands of seasoned experts. There you have the basis for the Scaled Agile Partner Program.
When we launched the program in 2013 with a handful of Partners, businesses were mostly applying SAFe in isolated units. As they saw results they began extending the practice to other units. Today this trend continues and we now regularly see Global 2000 companies managing initiatives where 5,000 – 10,000+ people are collaborating through SAFe across geographies.
This scale of effort involves unique transformation challenges that require globally integrated and aligned support, training, and end-to-end services. To meet this need, we recently expanded the partner program to include a new partner type—Global Transformation Partner (GTP)—that represents partners with the knowledge, experience, and global reach to successfully support these world-spanning transformations.
To that end, we want to welcome CGI on board as one of our first Global Transformation Partners. With extensive SAFe experience and a vast network of consultants globally, CGI is leading and transforming some of the largest, distributed and most complex enterprises around the globe. There are unique benefits to working with a GTP. In CGI’s case, they provide:
More than 3,000 SAFe certified practitioners, including more than 100 Certified SAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs) and trainers
Presence of local SAFe experts in Europe, Asia, and the Americas
Enabling clients to leverage the CGI SAFe Community of Practice to ensure consistent use of all aspects of SAFe in all locations globally
Commitment to nurture lifelong organizational learning
We look forward to welcoming future GTPs to support the world’s largest businesses and government agencies. And we want to thank all 250+ Scaled Agile Partners for their part in helping thousands of enterprises and government agencies achieve tangible business results with SAFe.
“We are delivering faster and more predictably than in the past, which has changed many minds and driven a shift in long-ingrained ways of working.”
—Mark Braam, IT Manager/RTE, Interaction Services at DTCA
Behind every SAFe transformation, there’s a corresponding cultural shift. And there’s perhaps no environment where that’s tougher to change than in government.
That’s what makes our latest case study so impactful. The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (DTCA) has typically been very process-oriented and risk-averse, and as such, technology evolves slowly. The agency, one of the largest in the Netherlands, employs 26,000 people and is responsible for collecting taxes and customs, and extending tax credits and benefits to Dutch residents.
A few years ago, a move toward a Lean approach led the agency to apply Scrum practices. But those practices alone were not enough to achieve goals such as improving delivery times and elevating quality.
Then groups at DTCA turned to SAFe for the alignment and transparency to bring the business and IT together.
Early on, the push came from the bottom-up, with skepticism regarding the amount of time needed for training and planning events. But as teams produced results, they gained more support from the business and leadership, and interest from other divisions.
As we know from hundreds of other implementations, education and training is essential to influencing leadership and reforming the long-ingrained practices, and such was the case with DTCA. In fact, individuals who worked at DTCA for decades noticed a significant cultural shift since adopting SAFe. Product Owners are more involved from start to finish, teams are self-organizing, and all parties now collaborate and discuss considerably more than before.
The organization has driven notable results across two large ARTs and within a few smaller ARTs:
More frequent releases – Major releases come out 3X more often, from 4 to 12 in a year.
Improved software quality/technical debt – DTCA improved quality by reducing the number of ‘problems’ by 80 percent, and security issues by 87 percent (one division).
Less management overhead – The number of people with the word ‘manager’ in their titles dropped in half. These individuals moved into other roles.
Increased engagement – People are more engaged, connected with each other, and willing to help others.
At the recent 2019 European SAFe® Summit, we did something we’ve never done before – we used the event to live-capture baseline metrics to determine how close organizations are to achieving true business (not just technical) agility.
After Dean’s keynote presentation, we invited attendees to take a survey about business agility—and 164 of them did. To understand where the respondents were coming from, we included two questions about company size and the size of their SAFe implementations.
We also asked attendees to share their roles.
Respondents reported that their organizations do business around the world (60 percent) and in Europe (about 40 percent)—in a wide variety of industries.
For the main assessment questions, we asked attendees to take a survey and rate their organizations according to ‘sit, crawl, walk, run, or fly’ criteria in seven aspects of business agility. Here are the results.
So what does this data tell us? Well, organizations are in different places; some are stuck in the old way of working, others are starting to shift, while others are moving hard. In some of the team and technical practices, more companies are starting to improve and move toward ‘walk.’ But in some of the more complex and strategic areas—including Lean portfolio management, organizational agility, and learning culture—enterprises aren’t doing enough yet, if anything at all. All dimensions seem to indicate areas where the real opportunities for growth lie.
We’ve received great feedback on the assessment; most want to know how people can run it within their organizations. So, in the future, we’ll likely provide this assessment as a download, similar to our existing Lean Enterprise Assessment and DevOps health radar, which you can find in the Metrics article on the Framework website.
Congratulating Martin for launching the SAFe Leadership Retreat. Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Phil Gardiner.
Recently, the SAFe community, and indeed the entire Agile movement, lost a dear friend and champion.
Coach, collaborator, big thinker, and host extraordinaire—I knew Martin Burns to be a truly independent, non-partisan, and deeply thoughtful industry leader.
Martin believed in SAFe, passionately, and was a follower of the Framework from its earliest days. In 2013, he attended an SPC class I taught in London where he brought an expansive view of agility, and inherently understood its potential beyond team-level Agile.
In an industry that is rich with ideology and conjecture, Martin was referred to as a “respectful antagonist,” which, based on my experience with him, is spot on. He had the rare ability to be considerate of many different opinions while at the same time delivering compelling arguments for his own ideas without hesitation or pretension.
Perhaps one of the reasons why Martin thrived in the world of SAFe was that he believed in the power of bringing people together under one roof. In fact, I’ve heard his own home referred to as the “SAFe House.” He was an active contributor to many events that have helped nurture Lean-Agile communities in Europe, and in 2015, Martin and his wife Lucy organized the SAFe Leadership Retreat. Over the next few years, it became a high-level think-tank that helped us better understand the needs of the community and was key to the evolution of the Framework.
There is much to learn from Martin—his inquisitiveness, curiosity, and push for knowledge is something that will continue to inspire me and all of us at Scaled Agile. Our hearts are with Martin’s family and loved ones. Rest in peace.
Humbled. Inspired. Energized. Every time I come back from a SAFe Summit, I feel all of these things. And I can tell you why in just one sentence: SAFe companies are changing the world, one PI at a time.
Just the week before last at the 2019 European SAFe Summit, we all learned how teams on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project are using SAFe to build the world’s largest radio telescope to explore the universe. Bosch is driving strategic change in a new business area, IoT, and in the automotive industry toward the digital mobility of the future—autonomous driving—through a collaboration with Daimler. World Vision International created its Last Mile Mobile Solution (LMMS®), to deliver essential supplies and humanitarian aid faster to people most affected by disasters. Astra-Zeneca has created NiCoLA-B, the most advanced drug-discovery robot in the world, that can perform experiments at an industrial scale in the search for new, life-saving medicines.
And these stories aren’t just about software. Air France KLM Group and Nokia are using Lean Portfolio Management to evaluate and prioritize investments across a diverse range of programs, products, and services. Airbus is using SAFe to improve its product lifecycle management, with the help of procurement and HR among others. Volvo is building cars with SAFe. HSBC is using SAFe to transform traditional HR.
Another Summit first: we conducted a live, primary research assessment where we invited attendees to take a survey to determine how close their organizations are to achieving true business—not just technical—agility. We’ll share those survey results in an upcoming blog post, but in a nutshell, over 160 respondents rated their organizations according to ‘sit, crawl, walk, run, or fly’ criteria in seven core competencies of business agility.
You know what else was so great about the Summit? The two-way communication. We asked for feedback from the SAFe community and we got it—about the Framework, our courses, our product roadmap, our competencies, and our future direction as a company.
Scaled Agile is a work in progress; we want you to be vocal because we really do listen and take your feedback to heart to improve everything we do. For those of you that have been with us for a while, we are confident you are already seeing your input in our offerings.
I invite you to advance the conversation with us at the 2019 Global SAFe Summit. We’ll all learn something, and we’ll have even more ideas to change the world, one PI at a time.
Thank you again for an amazing event and stay SAFe,
Our thinking on the Economic Framework evolved quite a bit with the release of SAFe 4.6. Specifically, we added lean budget guardrails and some more clarity around how both WSJF and Suppliers are material to economic decision-making. In 4.6, we reflected that in a complete rewrite of the article attached to the icon. However, although it applies at all levels, that icon is physically located only on the large solution level, which not everyone uses. We had thoughts of moving the icon to the spanning palette to make it more obvious, but we didn’t do so because it’s busy there, too.
In order to make the guidance clearer— and in the spirit of continuous value delivery—we’ve just moved most of this new content into a just-published update to the Principle 1 article. If you are already familiar with both those articles, you won’t find much new here, but now the economic principle is better grounded, more specific and more consistent.
While there isn’t much new in this particular refactoring, we always try to inform you of any incremental updates to SAFe, and changing a principle is certainly one of them.
Last October, we released the first SAFe® for Government course with an initial MVP design focused on the U.S. federal market. Even before the course launched, we began getting feedback from our SPCs working with governments outside the U.S., as well as interest from state governments. While most of the course content works fine in those contexts, some of the information specific to U.S. federal is not as useful there. The big question was how to adapt the course to work in virtually any state or country around the world. A real challenge, indeed!
Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been architecting an update to make the course more accommodating to different localities, without losing the great insights on the U.S. federal context that we gained from everyone who helped us develop the initial course. We’ve architected a solution that’s a first when it comes to Scaled Agile courseware—trainers now can develop a limited amount of state- or country-specific content and deliver it in conjunction with our licensed material. This is just one reason why we’re so excited to announce the release of SAFe® for Government version 4.6.1!
With this update, trainers can choose from two distinct tracks for specific lessons in the courseware kit. Track one is preloaded with the U.S. federal content from the original course, along with some new information in and minor improvements to a couple of lessons. Track two offers more universal language and contextualization options for several lessons, designed to help you provide more relevant content for local, state, and international government audiences.
There are very specific guidelines to follow in order to remain compliant with the courseware license agreement and exam content. Trainers taking advantage of the second track must review the information in the trainer’s guide and in a special CDE video on contextualization—prior to conducting the course. And because the changes made in this update do impact the U.S. federal content, if you’re an SPC or SPCT who has already completed the course enablement, we strongly encourage you to review the new kit thoroughly and watch all the newly recorded CDE videos for each lesson as well as the contextualization video.
We can’t wait to see how this update helps the change agents in our community bring the benefits of SAFe to government organizations around the world! We’re also looking forward to your feedback on the new update, so if you’re a trainer or a learner, please share your thoughts on the new materials.
As enterprises and government agencies embark on Lean-Agile transformation journeys to get value to end users faster, they tell us that they’re learning a lot along the way. Case in point: cultivating a continuous delivery mindset across the organization is critical to get everyone in the value stream collaborating cross-functionally to solve real problems. It’s a growing trend we’re seeing as more organizations around the world adopt SAFe®.
This is a great story about how Chevron is doing just that to improve business outcomes. They’re using SAFe built on Azure DevOps to accelerate their cloud migration, deliver new applications and digital products and services faster, and stay ahead of a fast-changing market.
We are pleased to announce the release of the Accelerating Business Value with SAFe andTechnology Business Management (TBM) white paper.
As organizations learn how to increase business and technical agility with SAFe, they also face another significant challenge—how to manage the massive increase in technology spending that now exemplifies many modern companies. Moreover, many IT organizations do not have full transparency into their spending or have a method for allocating their costs, and therefore may not be able to demonstrate the real value they bring to the business in return for the investment in technology.
Fortunately, there’s an established approach for running IT like a business—Technology Business Management (TBM)–which provides technology leaders with standards and validated best practices to communicate the cost, quality, and value of IT investments to their business partners. In turn, IT is better positioned to drive innovation in the enterprise.
SAFe 4.6 Accelerating Business Value with SAFe and Technology Business Management White Paper
Applying TBM with SAFe provides a powerful combination that enables IT to deliver more value with more transparency, to achieve greater business agility, and to establish a stronger and more accountable partnership with the business. Together, these two frameworks help IT shift from ‘running-the-business’ spending to ‘growing-the-business’ investment, which results in faster and better business value, aligned with the strategy and goals of the enterprise.
We hope that you’ll find this white paper to be a valuable resource to accelerate value delivery and to better communicate the increasing value of IT to executives, leaders, managers, and practitioners.
By completing these articles, we’re reaffirming our commitment to ensuring that the guidance and thought leadership contained in the SAFe® for Government course is freely available on the Framework website. Learners completing the course can use these articles to review for the certification exam. Leaders guiding a SAFe transformation in a government program or agency can refer back to these articles to help navigate the challenges typically encountered with Agile adoption in the public sector. System integrators and consultants competing for contracts with government agencies can reference the best practices in this guidance to describe their technical and project management approaches for executing the contract using SAFe.
Remember, we’re constantly updating the government landing page with new content, resources, videos, events, and more, so bookmark it and check back often.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many members of the SAFe community who contributed to the development of the SAFe® for Government course and the related Framework articles. This work represents the best thinking and experiences of experts from both government and the private sector who have been pioneering Agile and DevOps adoption in this market for many years. Without their contributions, the course and articles would not have been possible.
We look forward to the ongoing conversation with the SAFe in government community, and to evolving and improving the support we provide to those who serve the citizens of our communities and our nations.