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.
We’ve been engaged in continuous dialog and feedback sessions regarding the role of Lean-Agile Leadership. Most of you know that we have a short, overpacked Leadership Module in Leading SAFe. It’s always well received, and people generally want more time on it, rather than the 90 minutes we give it there. But two days is still two days, so we are going to stick with that timebox in Leading SAFe. So, the larger question becomes, how can you both extend the knowledge and it make it simpler at the same time. That’s why it’s been a continuous dialog!
Also, on a parallel, but related thread, SAFe has always provided a bit of basic guidance on what happens to a traditional manager—development manager, test manager, program manager, and so on— in the move to SAFe. We all know we need our leaders’ skills, expertise and deep technical and institutional knowledge, but that the move to value-organized, empowered Agile teams and release trains dramatically changes their responsibilities. The nature of their new role is not clear. Do they even have one? And, if these managers don’t understand what their new role would be—or worse, fear that it will be eliminated—the transformation is unlikely to happen in the way we intended. We’ve all seen that movie before.
To that end, we’ve restructured and extended the role of leaders in the brand, new SAFe Lean-Agile Leadership article. We’ve simplified and extended it around two primary aspects and responsibilities, becoming a Lean-Thinking Manager-Teacher, and Leading the Transformation, as the figure below illustrates.
Check it out the new article here. This content will be introduced in Leading SAFe at some point soon. And perhaps, more importantly, we envision additional courseware, guidance and other content in the future.
We’ve also developed deeper guidance on the things we do need our managers to do in the new way of working. In addition to leading the change, they, of course, have a variety of ongoing responsibilities as well. Check out this brand, new Advanced Topic article: The Evolving Role of Manager in SAFe.
Hopefully, we can advance the state of the art a bit with this new content. And more importantly, we’ll all be a lot SAFer when our managers and leaders lead the charge.
“SAFe seemed like a 1-to-1 match for us. Someone had already come up with a model to address our needs, which brought better requirements management, prioritization, governance, and a common language for the entire organization.”
—Risto Reinikainen, Head of Lean Agile Center of Excellence, Telia Finland
Our latest case study comes from Telia, the largest mobile operator in Finland and one of the country’s biggest providers of landline telephone and internet services. There’s a cool aspect to their story that has to do with a major rebranding effort—literally changing the company’s look overnight—that was so well executed the transition appeared seamless to customers and the public.
How did they do it? Behind the scenes, the company had been working for months to deliver by the target date. But there’s more to it than that. For this and other initiatives, SAFe was providing the essential framework to execute the very complex and mammoth-sized initiative on schedule.
Three years earlier, Telia adopted SAFe after several years of applying mostly homegrown practices in an attempt to accelerate time-to-market and improve quality.
They diligently trained employees and suppliers who would be joining Agile Release Trains (ARTs), with as many people as possible going through Leading SAFe® and many earning SAFe® Agilist (SA) certifications. For suppliers, Telia created a guidelines document on working with Telia and applying SAFe, and a workshop to reinforce the concepts.
While early Program Increments did not go as smoothly as hoped, they improved each time as the number trained edged closer to 250.
More recently, Telia deployed SAFe’s Large Solution level to accommodate its more than 200 systems, many dependencies, and numerous external suppliers. In turn, they gained greater transparency, more synchronization, and more value with one prioritized backlog.
Telia currently runs two ARTs and two Large Solution Trains with around 350 people. Since moving to SAFe, the company reports quantitative and qualitative results to show its progress:
39 percent more capabilities than before
34 percent less cost
94 percent accuracy delivering on commitments for a major rebranding
Teams deliver incrementally and more often
People are more engaged in and satisfied with their work
For more details on Telia’s SAFe journey, and their best practices, check out the complete case study.
Special thanks to those shared Telia’s SAFe story, including Risto Reinikainen, Head of Lean Agile Center of Excellence, Telia Finland; and Nina Pakkanen, Solution Train Engineer (STE), Telia Finland.
We’ve just returned from our first Regional SAFe Summit in Frankfurt, Germany. I hope to provide an update on that fairly soon. It’s a busy time but we’re good at multitasking and I wanted to share a couple of new thought leadership items that We’ve found in the SAFe community.
SAFe SPCT Yuval Yeret from Scaled Agile Gold SPCT Partner AgileSparks has written a blog post, ‘Scaling Agile Marketing with SAFe – Overview.‘ He observes that, just like development organizations working on huge systems and solutions, more marketing organizations today are realizing that they need to be faster, more flexible, responsive, and collaborative. They need SAFe, and he provides a very detailed overview of using the Framework for Agile Marketing
SPC Cindy VanEpps, from Gold Partner 321 Gang, has posted an interesting webcast, ‘Medical Devices and SAFe: A Tale of Two Systems,’ which compares and contrasts the development of medical device systems using a traditional waterfall process and SAFe. She highlights the experiences, learnings, economic, and regulatory outcomes of each of these development efforts. Although the systems discussed are hypothetical, they represent the realities she’s encountered.
I recently returned from a whirlwind, five-day, three-city visit in India (thanks Michael and Pranjal!) with Gold Partners Infosys and Persistent Systems, Gold SPCT Partner Flow Sphere, and Platform PLUS Partner Agile Cockpit. This was a wonderful experience and it was exciting to learn more about how SAFe is being implemented by leading Indian IT companies. The Framework is clearly playing an important role— not just helping them get better at what they’ve always done— but also enabling them to pursue a stronger leadership position in the global systems development world.
I also had the opportunity to meet with some influential Indian technology and business journalists. The first interview, with a senior correspondent for the Bangalore edition of The Economic Times, focused on the state of Agile development in India. We talked about where Indian software firms are on the scale of Agile adoption, the relevancy of Agile today, and some advice for firms implementing Agile.
You can read the article here and I’ll keep you posted as the other interviews go to press.
In various classes and contexts over the last six months or so, we’ve been asked about how SAFe integrates with Technology Business Management (TBM). For those of you who aren’t yet aware, “TBM 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 able to drive innovation for their organization.” For more on TBM, check out the TBM council website.
Personally, I interpret this initiative as the continuation of a significant movement from thinking of IT as a cost center, to a truly strategic player in helping the enterprise thrive and succeed in the digital age. I’ve also heard this described informally as ‘CIO++’, which represents the trend to view CIOs as true peers at the corporate exec level. After all, every business is a software business now, and many of the largest software development centers I know of today are the IT shops for global enterprises. This industry segment is a large consumer of SAFe and is fundamentally strategic to the health (and even survival!) of some of the world’s largest enterprises.
While SAFe is not fundamentally about IT cost and profit analysis, we certainly do hope to drive a more strategic vision—along with less friction and overhead—to IT portfolio investments. Lean Budgeting is a big part of that SAFe story.
Well anyway, a few weeks back, I was invited to attend the annual TBM Executive Summit & Board Retreat held in Richmond, VA. In addition to having the unique opportunity to see the digital transformation of large-scale shipbuilding (abroad a nuclear aircraft carrier, no less. How cool is that? Talk about longer range IT planning, think ten years!), I was asked to co-chair a special session on Agile development. Along with Theo Beack, EVP Products & Engineering, Apptio and Wayne Shurts, CTO, Sysco, we led a wide-ranging discussion with dozens of CIOs about the impact of Agile on IT, and how Agile development can assist the transformation from IT cost center to profit center/strategic partner. You can read more about that session here. And as you can guess, ‘project-based funding’ was a topic that I opined on. This is the quote they picked out of my session.
“That’s why we have to think about innovation as a test and why it has to be okay to fail. We have to change expectations associated with ROI. We have to move from temporary work and temporary people that can’t fail to more permanent work, long-life work from people that work together in teams working against a backlog that has some uncertainty. That changes the way you think about the work.”
But of course, that’s just the start of a potential integration/knowledge sharing of TBM and SAFe. We currently have a prospective whitepaper ‘Impact of Scaled Lean-Agile Development on IT Financial Planning and Governance with TBM’ as a work in process, so stay tuned.
Fully updated to include the new innovations in SAFe 4.5, the SAFe® 4.5 Reference Guide is ideal for anyone serious about learning and implementing the world’s leading framework for enterprise agility. Inside, you’ll find complete coverage of scaledagileframework.com, the knowledge base that thousands of the world’s largest brands turn to for building better software and systems. This new edition also includes 14 advance topics articles and a revised glossary.
The SAFe Reference Guide is now available at Pearson’s InformIT online store in paperback and eBook formats (including Kindle) and will soon be available at major book retailers (on or before June 14th).
Why a book, when you can get SAFe online?
The SAFe Reference Guide is an ideal companion to the website. You can mark it up, scribble in the margins, read it on the plane, add sticky notes, and highlight relevant sections to make it your own. We’re in the training business, and we know from experience that everyone learns and connects to information in different ways, so having SAFe captured in as many forms as possible just makes good sense.
I’d like to thank my co-authors, Richard Knaster, Inbar Oren and Drew Jemilo, as well as the larger SAFe contributor community. Without this fusion of dedicated people, ideas, challenges, and honest feedback, SAFe wouldn’t be what it is today. It’s an exciting space in which to work as we continue to evolve the Framework, and help enterprises fulfill their mission of building better software and systems.
Most of you know that the integration of Lean UX thinking was one of the major themes in SAFe 4.5.
Lean UX is fundamentally different than traditional UX approaches. Specifically, there are two major differences;
Lean UX is hypothesis-driven. Teams implement functionality in minimum viable increments, determining success by measuring results against a pre-stated benefit hypothesis. That hypothesis is tested early in the process through collaborative design and implementation.
LeanUX is a team sport. Lean UX experts function as part of an Agile team, rather than an independent function. Pixel perfect designs are not required up front, a way to test the hypothesis is.
Our newest contributor, Natalie Warner, has substantial experience in integrating Lean UX into SAFe at truly enterprise scale. In this Advanced Topic article, Lean UX and the SAFe Program Increment Life Cycle Natalie provide great guidance on the ‘how” of implementing Lean UX. She also introduces YAA (yet another acronym) for LUXCE. Can you guess what that is?
Natalie provides some specific and actionable guidance on how to integrate Lean UX thinking and Lean UX specialists with the cross-functional Agile teams that are responsible for evaluating the feature hypothesis through actionable code. Moreover, by applying the SAFe principle #9 Decentralizing decision-making, she describes how to approach this at the ART, Value Stream, and portfolio levels.
But up to now, no one has opined on how to integrate HR specialists before and during the SAFe transformation. SPC Lori Priller and SPCT Mark Richards have provided a new Advanced Topic article, An HR Playbook for a Successful SAFe Implementation, that does that in the context of the SAFe Implementation Roadmap.
Here’s a grabber, “Without due attention … awareness of looming change breeds fear and uncertainty on the part of those affected by the change. That can be most every employee. In any change program, especially one this extensive, the enterprise’s Human Resources organization has a significant role to play in enabling successful navigation of this journey.”
Lori and Mark suggest Lean-Agile change agents engage HR early and often, and build awareness of both the insights and support they can offer to enable success. The article provides a detailed HR engagement strategy for every step of the Implementation Roadmap.
When we announced that SAFe 4.5 was going live about a year ago, we mentioned that we would be retiring SAFe 4.0. This is in support of our policy of supporting prior versions of the Framework for one year following the introduction of a new version.
We are now beginning the retirement process for SAFe 4.0 with full retirement set for October 31, 2018. There are a few things that I want you to be aware of.
After October 31st, you will only be able to license SAFe 4.5 Courseware. The retirement of 4.0 means that version of the courseware will not be supported and the only courseware that will be available for purchase will be SAFe 4.5.
SAFe 4.0 Enablement plans will be removed from SPC/SPCT catalogs on October 31st and the SAFe 4.0 website will not be viewable after December 31, 2018.
SAFe 4 Certification remains and is not being retired. People who have just taken the SAFe 4.0 Class will have 30 days to complete the 4.0 exam. The exam will not be available, even for a retake or an extension, after December 31st.
Partners can continue to provide coaching support to customers applying 4.0 practices but Safe 4.0 training rosters cannot be uploaded after October 31st and 4.0 courseware will no longer be available.
Enterprises can continue to apply 4.0 practices plus they have access to the 4.5 Courseware and Framework material which has additional updated guidance.
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