What Business Owners Need to Know About Scaled Agile Frameworks

Hi Readers, Here’s another guest post for you to enjoy. It’s the third time for Ashley to join TPC. You might have seen her previous work on the top 5 trends of 2018 and 2019 for Project Management.

This time I’ve asked Ashley to look into Scaled Agile, as I believe it’s a great way to work with Agile and have a structure in place at the same time. So without taking to much time from you, here is Ashley again with

What Business Owners Need to Know About Scaled Agile Frameworks

There’s a lot of buzz about Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) nowadays, but is this worth the hype? The Scaled Agile Framework is a set of organization and workflow paters which helps businesses adopt an agile workplace. Usually sued with large-scale Scrum, this method and workflow help teams produce more, increase collaboration, and make big changes in the industry.

Formally defined in 2007, SAFe has been growing rapidly. Today, it’s one of the most popular frameworks for scaling agile. However, it does have a wide range of criticism that’s worth noting, especially if you’re a new business owner considering this tool. In this guide, we’ll go deeper into the topic of everything business owners specifically need to know about Scaled Agile Frameworks.

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SaFe Terms Defined

Before we begin delving deeper, we need to quickly define some of the common terms used with SAFe. The terms you see below are a bit unusual, and they’re unique to the program. Many of them also overlap with Agile and Scrum methods, but it’s still worth reviewing what they specifically mean in this situation.

  • Value Stream – This is your product line. Most companies have several product lines. For instance, Microsoft has both “Windows” and “Office” as different value streams.
  • Epic – This is your product, and they’re created by your stable, pre-existing team known as “product aligned teams.”
  • Train – A train is any stable, dedicated collective of teams who pulls epics from a value stream.
  • Feature – These are the more granular features of a product.

What Are the Goals of SAFe?

Let’s define the goals of SAFe. For many business owners, there’s a lure to jumping on the SAFe bandwagon because they believe it will be some kind of magical solution for their productivity problem. In reality, SAFe takes a lot of work to implement and maintain, and it can only do so many things.

By understanding the key goals of SAFe, you can set clear goals for your organization. Better yet, you can decide if SAFe really is the right tool for your team, or if there might be another one that’s a better fit for your needs.

Primary SAFe Goals

  • Manage a large-scale program
  • Manage multiple teams under one program
  • Set clear goals about project outcomes
  • Allow teams to work independently

SAFe Challenges

Now that you know what SAFe excels at, it’s time to discuss its challenges. You’ll quickly discover that many people are passionate about the powers of SAFe. On the same wavelength, many feel like it’s a waste of time and a poor way to execute successful teams. Agile is usually used for smaller organizations, and scaling agile for a large enterprise is usually much more complex. That’s where SAFe comes in, but it’s still not a blanket solution.

Many of the assumptions that are true in a small, startup environment are not true for SAFe, large enterprises. One of the biggest challenges is to identify your initial epics. This is the fuel for the entire train, so to speak, but if you can’t easily define what it is you’re trying to create, it’s easy to derail along the way.

Similarly, it’s also a challenge to identify value streams and initial trains. Planning these streams and trains is also difficult, especially if you’re currently scaling your company to a larger enterprise. Finally, the last challenge is how to ensure code quality.

SAFe relies on Agile’s two-week sprints, and developers can cut corners under these conditions. In today’s world, these cut corners lead to breaches in security, a sure disaster for any organization. Log management is a great option for addressing this, but it will also take its own team. Click here to learn about Log management tool for Agile workplaces.

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SAFe Best Practices

Finally, if you’ve decided SAFe is right for your company, let’s talk about some best practices to get you started on the right foot. Planning is key when implementing a large shift in the daily workflow like Agile or SAFe. First, you need to be in an Agile state of mind. Most larger companies aren’t used to this way of thinking, and these roadblocks can get in the way.

Because you’re used to working in independent silos, your first action needs to be to tear these down. There should no longer be separate organizations and teams that work in their own unique zones. Things need to be done together, as one cohesive unit.

Next, there needs to be a focus on legacy projects. Specifically, businesses need to focus on projects with long release cycles. These have times that usually don’t fit with that infamous two-week sprint and fast releases. Defining interim milestones can help break up these release cycles to stop this backlog from becoming overwhelming.

Finally, SAFe enterprises need to focus on automation. The more that can be automated, the better these businesses can produce products. Automation is like stability in an Agile workplace. Using automation effectively is what separates the winners from the failures in the world of SAFe.

Conclusion and Final Notes

Are you considering moving to SAFe for your workplace? It’s a powerful strategy for demanding more from your company without overwhelming your current workforce. However, don’t expect it to work perfectly right away.

It’s up to you as a business owner to empower your team to make better decisions, work more effectively, and collaborate on projects. It won’t be easy, but a successful transition is possible with the right planning and understanding.

And here’s Erik again :). Hope you liked the article Ashley wrote. Would you like to read more articles by her hand please let me know. I’m considering but want to keep the blog my own as well. So your input is valuable here.

Also, if you consider SaFe for your organization you probably already have tools such as Azure DevOps or Jira running on the organization. There are some great SaFe features that work very well on these applications. However, from my experience having the organizational portfolio structure a tool such as Project Online comes into place.

Together with the new features such as Roadmap and Project Home you now have a great way to go Agile without having to leave the tools people enjoy the most. Currently Roadmap links up to Project Online and Azure DevOps, but there are rumors that even Planner and Jira are coming to the tool as well. It’s great to see Microsoft taking this new approach, I’m a happy consultant for sure :).