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SAFe®️ 4.6 - The Latest Entrant In SAFe®️ Series With 5 Core Competencies

Scaled Agile Inc. (SAI) recently announced the latest version of SAFe®️, SAFe®️ 4.6 with the help of the whole Scaled Agile team and SAFe®️ Contributors. The SAFe®️ 4.6 version has underlined the introduction of ‘Five Core Competencies’ of the Lean Enterprise. The purpose behind incorporating those competencies is mainly to make the SAFe®️ organizations build a truly Lean Enterprise in a Lean fashion.  According to the Gartner report, SAFe®️ 4.5 is delineated as the world’s most widely used Agile framework at the enterprise level.This new way of working with SAFe®️ will open new avenues after the introduction of these competencies. At the same time, these competencies will become the primary lens for understanding and executing SAFe®️ in the organizations. Also, this new way of SAFe®️ working can make a big difference to the organizations that are struggling with their transformations.Here are the names of the five competencies introduced newly to build a better Lean organization in a Lean way. Lean-Agile Leadership Team and Technical Agility  DevOps and Release on demand  Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering  Lean Portfolio ManagementBenefits of SAFe®️ 4.6 competenciesHaving these five competencies allows organizations to-Navigate digital disruptionsRespond to the volatile market conditionsMeeting the varying customer requirements and latest technologiesLet’s explore each competency in details below.1) Lean-Agile Leadership:The Lean-Agile Leadership competency focuses on describing how the Lean-Agile leaders steer organizational change by encouraging the individuals and teams to reach their highest potential. The Lean-Agile leaders do this by learning, exhibiting, and coaching the Lean-Agile mindset, core values, principles, practices & features of SAFe®️.Changes made in Lean-Agile Leadership in SAFe®️ 4.6 versionThe SAFe®️ principles have been updated with a redraft of Principle #3 — Assume variability and preserve optionsA new advanced topic article, Evolving Role of Managers describes the changes and ongoing responsibilities of line management in the new way of working.2) Team and Technical AgilityThe Team and Technical Agility competency describe the critical skills and Lean-Agile principles and practices that are required to produce the high-performing teams. These high-performing teams focus on creating high-quality, well-designed technical solutions in accordance with the current and future business needs.Team agility – enables high-performing organized Agile teams to operate with the fundamental and effective Agile principles and practices.Technical agility – provides Lean-Agile technical practices to generate high-quality, well-formulated technical solutions that contribute to the current and future business needs.Changes made in Team and Technical Agility in SAFe®️ 4.6 versionThe new built-in quality practices that ensure that each Solution element meets the appropriate quality standards at every increment. These new built-in quality practices define 5 dimensions that permit quality- flow, architecture and design quality, code quality, system quality, and release quality.The roles in the Agile teams- Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development team are updated to reflect the new guidelines and thinking from the Team and Technical Agility competency and their responsibilities in Behavior-Driven development (BDD).Behavior-Driven Development is a test-first, Agile software development approach that has evolved from the Test-Driven Development. BDD provides a built-in quality by defining system behavior.Test-Driven Development (TDD) is a practice for developing and executing the tests before implementing a code or system’s component.3) DevOps and Release on demandThe DevOps and Release on Demand competency confer how the DevOps principles and practices allow the organizations to release value (in full or in part), at any time to meet the customers’ needs. This new competency enhances the in-depth level of guidelines on implementing a full continuous delivery pipeline.Changes made in DevOps and Release on demand in SAFe®️ 4.6 versionThe advanced Continuous Delivery Pipeline includes mapping the current Delivery Pipeline and improving the flow with the DevOps and Release on-demand health radar.The DevOps health radar is a tool to assess the progress and improve a flow of the program value with the help of Continuous Delivery Pipeline. This tool consists of 16 sub-dimensions (as shown in the figure below) programs that are used to assess the program’s maturity. It helps to identify our health-related dimensions (e.g. sitting, crawling, walking, running, and identifying the places where we can improve).4) Business Solutions and Lean Systems EngineeringThe Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering competency show how organizations can develop large and complex solutions and cyber-physical systems using a Lean, Agile, and flow-based, value delivery-model. This model makes the best of the activities necessary to specify, design, construct, test, deploy, operate, evolve and ultimately decommission solutions.Changes made in Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering in SAFe®️ 4.6 versionIn this competency, they have changed the eight practices for developing large and complex solutions. Following image shows the practices included in the Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering.They made changes in the Economic Framework with the following four primary elements:Operating within Lean budgets and guardrailsUnderstanding solution economic trade-offsLeveraging SuppliersSequencing jobs for the maximum benefit (using WSJF)The advanced Roadmap section introduces the multiple planning horizons and the Solution Roadmap that provides a longer-term- multiyear view, showing the key milestones and deliverable s required to reach the solution Vision over time. The roadmap also contains new guidance on understanding and applying market rhythms and events.5) Lean Portfolio ManagementThe Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) competency describes how an organization can implement Lean approaches to strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance for a SAFe®️ portfolio.Changes made in Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) in SAFe®️ 4.6 versionIn SAFe®️ 4.6, the changes are made in the organizational strategy formulation, the definition of the portfolio, and strategic themes.New Portfolio Canvas describes how a portfolio of solutions creates, delivers and captures value for an enterprise. The portfolio canvas defines and aligns the value streams of the portfolio and the solutions to achieve the organizational goals and provides a process on meeting the vision of a future state.The updated Lean Budget Guardrails ensures the right investments within the portfolio’s budget.Also, the changes are made in the Lean Budgets that provides a guidance on moving from the traditional budgets to Lean budgets, guiding investments by the horizon and applying participatory budgeting.The updated Value Streams includes a section for defining the value streams and a revised Development Value Stream Canvas that aligns better with the new Portfolio Canvas.Top-Level Government in SAFe®️ 4.6Another updated thing in SAFe®️ 4.6 is the SAFe®️ for Government. The top-level Government in SAFe®️ 4.6 describes a set of success patterns that support the public sector organizations in implementing the Lean-Agile practices. The SAFe®️ for Government also serves as a landing page for applying SAFe®️ in the national, regional or local government context. This provides the specific guidelines to address the following things-Creating a basis of Lean-Agile values, principles, and practicesBuilding the high-performing teams of Government teams and contractorsAligning technology investments with agency strategyTransitioning from projects to a Lean flow of epicsAdopting Lean budgeting aligned to the value streamsApplying Lean estimating and forecasting in cadenceModifying acquisition practices to enable Lean-Agile development and operationsBuilding in quality and complianceAdapting governance practices to support agility and lean flow of valueThe passion of always improving the art of software development based on the Lean-Agile best practices makes Dean Leffingwell the world’s foremost authority. The release of the SAFe®️ 4.6 version is an update to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®️) which addresses the challenge of transitioning from the traditional model to the Lean-Agile Mindset. Moreover, the version provides the guidelines on XP, TDD, and BDD, and building a better Lean enterprise in the Lean way!You heard it right! Knowing the Lean fruits of SAFe®️ 4.6 to the organizations, KnowledgeHut is launching the course in the middle of November. Stay tuned to know more. Course arriving soon!
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SAFe®️ 4.6 - The Latest Entrant In SAFe®️ Se...

Scaled Agile Inc. (SAI) recently announced the lat... Read More

Importance and Benefits of The Project Charter

What is the Project Charter:PMBOK® Defines Project Charter as a document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the existence of a project, and provides a project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to the project.PMI® gives a lot of importance to project charter. Project Charter will state the high-level requirements to satisfy the stakeholders’ needs and it also defines the authority of the Project Manager.Business Case and Project statement of work are the documents that are necessary to create a project charter. The purpose of a business case is to understand the business need for the project and determine whether it is worth investing in. Business needs or demands include market demands, organizational need, customers’ requests, technological advance, legal requirements, ecological impacts, and social needs.“According to the PMBOK® Guide, the business case is an economic feasibility study. It is used to track progress and compare project results against the success factors identified in the business case”.A project isn’t a project until the project charter is approved, and the project charter cannot be started until the business case is approved.The Project Charter highlights high-level initiation draft defined as below:Let's look at why the project charter is so important!The main purpose of the project charter is the formal authorization of the project and the go-ahead to commit organizational resources to it; without a project charter, the project can be canceled anytime and for any reason and can be subject to an audit as an unauthorized project.Let us imagine a project without a project charter. If there is no project charter, projects will have no direction. The Project Managers will lack authority. There will be no expectations for the projects undertaken. The scope of the projects will not be clearly defined.Let's consider a project has started for 2-3 months. A Project Manager is already authorized, and the project is moving well. Due to certain circumstances, current Project Manager resigns from the company and the project is assigned to another Project Manager. The initial task of every Project Manager authorized should be to go through the Project Charter to understand its business need and objective. The Project Charter project describes goals, scope, stakeholders and a high-level deliverable at high levels. Imagine project having no project charter then Project Manager would have been like a “Fish Out of Water”.What is included in the Project Charter?A Charter is a document that elucidates the project in succinct wording without a lot of details. It’s written for high-level management needs. Charter doesn’t provide detailed end goals, schedule, and cost.A Project Charter template may include some or all the following:Components of the Project CharterDo We Really Require Project Charter?Project Charter is important for the success of a project. The Project charter builds a foundation for any projects undertaken. It is a great communication tool for the stakeholders and provides a direction to the project.Following are few of the benefits of a project charter:It gives an authority to the project manager to complete the projectExplains the business importance and existence of project.Demonstrates Management support for the project.Defines outcome for the project.Aligns project with the organization objectives.Provides a team with a clear concise reporting system.Protects team members from scope creep.Helps in avoiding disagreements between stakeholders.Authorizes the existence of the project or establishes the project.Defines the parameters within which the project manager is authorized to operate.Gives the project manager authority to spend money and procure resources.Provides the high-level requirements for the project.Links the project to the ongoing operations of the organization.Process of project charter:The project charter is an important document and a project should not be started without one. The success of the project cannot be measured without a project charter.A project charter is important in the Project Management, because-It ensures that the project manager understands the sponsor’s needs and requirements.It provides vital information needed to get the projects started.It acts as a reference document to make sure everyone (i.e. Project Manager, Stakeholder, Higher Management etc.) are on the same page.It authorizes and protects the project manager by describing what are the benefits of the Projects that need to be achieved.* Remember According to the PMBOK® Guide, a project benefit is the result of actions or behaviors, and/or the value of the product, service, or result from the project brings to the organization and the project stakeholders.
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Importance and Benefits of The Project Charter

What is the Project Charter:PMBOK® Defines Projec... Read More

Progressing From Agile Practitioner To Agile Coach- A Perspective

Introduction: -With Agile becoming a norm in the current world, enterprises that want to be in the forefront of transformation typically focuses on an adoption strategy that involves hiring Agile practitioners. This hiring is expected to create and foster an Agile culture by coaching employees who may not have any prior Agile experience.I had an opportunity to lead one of the high profile enterprise Agile product development in my organization for a US client. It was a multi-year program with more than 60+ team members distributed geographically across 4 locations (India & US). The program was highly visible and had all tight constraints in terms of budget, timeline, and quality. The client’s engineering teams were too slow in adoption and were not supported by strong engineering practices and focusing only on management aspects.The hope was that my 'extreme programming and engineering practices' background would bring light at the end of the tunnel! Also, since I had spent a considerable amount of time as a practitioner and had attended internal training on coaching, my manager was confident about my accrued experience.I took on all these challenges one by one and also in the meantime I learned that coaching involves three simple stages, as follows. Let’s see these 3 different stages of Agile Coaching that will help you to move from an Agile Practitioner to Agile Coaching.Three Stages/Phases of Agile Coaching: -First is the Assessment Stage, where I observed existing processes and interaction with the team members, gauging them on technical and non­-technical considerations. I evaluated some of the baseline metrics and assessment reports.I was able to identify some of the key improvement areas that could help the team and client progress towards the goal quickly and deliver value. I had devoted a lot of time in listening actively to the team members on multiple occasions. This gave lots of insights into various processes and standards followed by the team and its dynamics. Some of the key challenges that existed were,Non-standardized approach by the team leading to the suboptimal solution.Unwilling to share the best practices or knowledge.Lack of cross synergy and cohesion thereby decreasing overall velocity.Losing focus on the big picture leading to silo working modelThe second is the Active coaching stage where I started encouraging the team members to set specific goals and provide accountability and followed-up to improve the performance. More often I would have open conversations like “What can I do to help you improve?” and create awareness around the problem or issues.I was able to change or influence the behavior patterns of the team on retrospectives during stressful times by not attending the ceremony. This provided freedom to the team members and allowed them to express freely on the pitfalls and improvement areas.I noticed a few things..The build took almost 2 hours, potentially delaying deployment across multiple stages. I probed the team to come up with new ideas to reduce the build time and team was able to explore multiple options and with maven scripts, the team reduced the build time to 45 minutes (60% reduction).The personal characteristics and attitude are most difficult to change as they are built from childhood. I would often leave it to the individual to resolve if there is a need to change and why it would benefit them personally.The key was to actively listen to their opinions, ideas and most importantly to empathize and motivate the team members. I realized as a coach, that influencing or changing behaviors of the team cannot be done overnight and provide immediate results but was always a gradual and long-term process. Over a period of time, the team became self-sufficient and I observed well-enabled retrospectives and well maintained Jira boards.  The difference between completed and accepted story points came down to 3-5% from 8-10%. The team had started realizing their potential without much of an active involvement from me. Team dynamics often created unpredictability (low motivational levels, low performance, poor standards etc.) and I was careful particularly in not providing any directions and specify the outcomes rather understood the working ways of the team and coached them to overcome all of these challenges by themselves.The final stage is Sustainability, which is to continue to perform better indefinitely while I stepped back and enjoyed the results and performance of the team. In some iterations, the results were excellent and few iterations stayed flat.I reviewed the qualitative and quantitative metrics from time to time just to make sure the fundamentals were being followed and as long as there is a harmony in the team, I didn’t interfere. I also learned to identify the quick learners, star performers and nurtured them as they were the ones who would eventually become the team’s influencers and motivators and made them as the internal coaches to continue this endeavor forever. I fostered a healthy relationship with multiple units in the team, for the team to function more effectively.Responsibilities of an Agile CoachPlays a mentoring or coaching role in the organization without being a part of the Scrum teamMost often this person is not a part of the Scrum team and an outsider (from outside the organization)Guides the team members, without personal or political considerationsThe person is an Agile expertIs experienced in implementing Agile techniques in different cultures and environmentsAble to run the complex and different sized Agile projects successfullyA Roadway from Agile Practitioner to Coach:-The coaching experience gave me a sense of fulfillment as I would see mostly the team smiling and brimming with ideas for improvement constantly in the journey of self-reliance. This has helped me improve my personal traits to a greater extent and I feel that I’ve made a sincere attempt to embed myself into my organization towards enterprise agility.Despite the resistance from the team members to change, I was able to win and influence them through my communication, empathy and logical reasoning skills. I truly believed coaching focuses on helping another person learn in ways that let him or her keep growing afterward. It is based on asking rather than telling, on provoking thought rather than giving directions and on holding a person accountable for his or her goals.
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Progressing From Agile Practitioner To Agile Coach...

Introduction: -With Agile becoming a norm in the c... Read More