The enterprises have many different frameworks and methodologies to choose from once they decide to adopt the ‘Agile’ approach for project/product development. Designed by the Scaled Agile Inc, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) is an Agile software-development framework. Earlier, the Agile development methodologies were used on a trial basis for various projects at an enterprise level. The development team experimented in making an efficient Agile method suitable to work in their environment. This resulted in evaluation of methods that worked and that didn’t, which ultimately led to the development of various frameworks and strategies for the adoption of the Scaled Agile Framework. Within the last few years, the Scaled Agile adoption has become popular amongst many enterprises. The two most important responsibilities of management are measuring improvement and ROI. The management needs to choose a solution that best equips with their business model and speed up the delivery and release phases. With these benefits coming handy, more and more professionals are practising lean and Agile methods and implementing it in the enterprises.
The Scaled Agile Framework is a highly structured and is mainly used in larger enterprises and is primarily used to for agile development. It is an increasingly popular framework that has been successfully implements in enterprises. The nine principles of SAFe® include as follows:
1. Taking an economic view
2. Applying systems thinking
3. Assuming variability by preserving options
4. Incremental built with fast and integrated learning cycles
5. Building the foundation of milestones on objective evaluation of working systems
6. Visualising and limiting WIP, managing queue lengths and reducing batch sizes
7. Synchronising with cross-domain planning by applying cadence (timing)
8. Establishing deep-rooted motivation of knowledge workers
9. Decentralising the decision making
There are three levels in SAFe®, and they’re as follows:
All the SAFe® teams are the Agile teams consisting of 5–9 people working in 2-week scrums. They have skills to define, develop, test, and deliver value using XP (Extreme Programming) methods. Unlike the traditional development scrums, they work in collaboration.
At Program level, 5–10 SAFe® teams consisting of 50–125 persons create an “Agile Train Release” comprising of stakeholders and development teams. They put in sync their iteration boundaries and facilitate delivery of integrated working systems every 2 weeks. The SAFe®defines the Agile Release Train (ART), which in every 10 weeks (5 iterations) delivers a Potentially Shippable Increment (PSI). The PSIs provides a steady cadence (timing) for the development cycle.
The lean–Agile budgeting mechanisms are budgeted by a portfolio, which is a collection of value streams. The portfolio management requires program management, investment funding, strategy, and governance. A portfolio is associated with the enterprise strategy in terms of strategic themes. Epics that define large-development initiatives are captured and analysed by a portfolio Kanban system. There are business epics that are customer facing, and then there are architectural epics that are technology solutions.
How the practices of the Scaled Agile Framework benefit the organisation?
SAFe® is considered as a framework based on Agile Development, Lean, and Systems Thinking, which has gained worldwide recognition throughout the large corporations and enterprises. Following are the benefits of adopting the Scaled Agile Framework for your organisation:
1. SAFe® allows implementation large team programs and portfolios
Initially, the organisations adopt Agile approach and experiment it by its implementation with small teams. After gaining moderate success with small teams, often the organisations would try to increase the size by aligning various teams, programs, and various departments in an organisation to promote collaboration and efficiency in development and shipment of the product. By identifying the key Agile functionalities, Lean and Systems Thinking that scale well, SAFe® addresses all these issues.
2. SAFe® outlines a consistent approach for planning, execution, and delivery of value
It becomes difficult for large organisations when numerous Agile teams are involved, because the teams might operate on different cadences (timing), or might use various Agile frameworks, or might rely on varying tools for managing the Agile lifecycle, or the teams might have adopted different technique practices. SAFe® makes use of ART (Agile Release Train), which collaborates various Agile teams on a consistent cadence for every 8–10 weeks. It is known as a Program Increment (PI). This enables the teams of the organisations get together and uncover, plan, and address dependencies of the teams and the risks that might arise. All the teams of ART make use of best practices such as the Scrum-of-Scrums during each PI. At the end of every Project Increment, the ART does the analysis of what was done in the past 8–12 weeks.
3. SAFe® addresses roles and responsibilities across Team, Program, and Portfolio levels
Adopting and implementing Agile causes a drastic change across the organisation, which can raise questions regarding the current and new functions. SAFe® addresses all these questions across the various levels.
4. SAFe® provides a framework to bring consistency in strategy and alignment to the program and team levels
In an organisation, maintaining an overall alignment with the vision and strategy is often a challenge faced by enterprise-scale software development. It becomes difficult to arrange various business departments with similar strategies, and if that is achieved, the problem still persists to communicate that strategy at the team level. SAFe® provides an architecture to implement Agile, Lean, and Systems Thinking consistently to various levels in an organisation.
5. SAFe® improves product development lead times
SAFe® is a well-documented approach that applies its principles, benefits, and values to the wider enterprise. More and more large corporations have understood how to scale Agile to lessen the time required for product development and improve the release time of their product compared to their market competitors. SAFe® provides an extensive set of functionalities that can be applied in an enterprise to successfully scale Agile.