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How SAFe®️ Core Values Quicken The Progress Of An Agile Team

What is Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®️)?The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®️) helps businesses address the significant challenges of developing and delivering enterprise-class software and systems in the shortest sustainable lead time. It is an online, freely revealed knowledge base of proven success patterns for implementing Lean-Agile software and systems at enterprise scale.Developed in the field, SAFe®️  draws from three primary bodies of knowledge: Agile development, systems thinking, and Lean product development. It synchronizes alignment, collaboration, and delivery for large numbers of Agile teams. Scalable and configurable, SAFe®️ allows each organization to adapt it to its own business needs. It supports smaller-scale solutions employing 50–125 practitioners, as well as complex systems that require thousands of people. Why use  SAFe®️ ? SAFe®️ combines the power of Agile with systems thinking and Lean product development. It synchronizes alignment, collaboration, and delivery for multiple Agile teams. As a result,  SAFe®️ provides dramatic improvements to business agility, including productivity, time to market, quality, and employee engagement, and more.SAFe®️ is improving business outcomes for companies of all sizes across the world. It has produced dramatic increases in time to market, employee engagement, higher quality, higher customer satisfaction, and overall improved economic outcomes. It also helps create cultures that are more productive, rewarding, and fun.QualityBuilt-In Quality practices increase customer satisfaction and provide faster and more predictable value delivery. They also improve the ability to innovate. Without quality, the Lean goal of the maximum value in the shortest sustainable lead time cannot be achieved. ProductivityWhen productivity increases, system development economics improves, as does employee engagement. For team members, productivity is a critical, personal need. Everyone feels better when they’re contributing more and doing less wasteful work.Employee EngagementAccording to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), employees with the highest level of commitment perform 21 percent better and are 65 percent less likely to leave the organization. Clearly, employee engagement is directly linked to business performance.Faster Time to MarketLean-Agile frameworks allow businesses to deliver value to the market more quickly. Companies that adopt Agile development practices routinely gain first-mover advantages and enjoy the higher gross margins afforded to market leaders. SAFe®️ enterprises typically see a 30–75 percent (as much as 3x!) improvement in time to market.SAFe®️ configurationsSAFe®️ supports the full range of development environments with four out-the-box configurationsEssential SAFe®️Portfolio SAFe®️Large Solution SAFe®️Full SAFe®️Essential SAFe®️The Essential SAFe®️ configuration is the heart of the Framework and is the simplest starting point for implementation. It’s the basic building block for all other SAFe®️ configurations and describes the most critical elements needed to realize the majority of the Framework’s benefits.  Together, the Team and Program Levels form an organizational structure called the Agile Release Train (ART), where Agile teams, key stakeholders, and other resources are dedicated to an important, ongoing solution mission.Large Solution SAFe®️The Large Solution SAFe®️ configuration is for developing the largest and most complex solutions that typically require multiple Agile release trains and Suppliers, but do not require portfolio-level considerations. The Solution Train organizational construct of the Large Solution Level helps enterprises that face the biggest challenges—building large-scale, multidisciplinary software, hardware, and complex IT systems. Building these solutions requires additional roles, artifacts, events, and coordination. Portfolio SAFe®️The Portfolio SAFe®️ configuration helps align portfolio execution to the enterprise strategy, by organizing Agile development around the flow of value, through one or more value streams. It provides business agility through principles and practices for portfolio strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance. Full SAFe®️The Full SAFe®️ configuration is the most comprehensive version of the Framework. It supports enterprises that build and maintain large integrated solutions, which require hundreds of people or more and includes all levels of SAFe®️: team, program, large solution, and portfolio. In the largest enterprises, multiple instances of various SAFe®️ configurations may be required. Scaled agile framework core values  - SAFe®️  SAFe®️ is broad and deep and based on both Lean and Agile principles as its foundation.Importance of core valuesCore values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization.The core values are the guiding principles that speak behavior and action.Core values can help people to know what is right from wrong.It helps companies to determine whether they are working on the right path or not.SAFe®️ upholds four Core Values: alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution, as illustrated in Figure below and described in the following sections.1. AlignmentAlignment ensures that many people act as one unit or team, all pulling in the same direction. Alignment in SAFe®️ is achieved when everyone in the portfolio, and every team member on every ART, understand the strategy and the part they play in achieving it.SAFe®️ delivers alignment by orchestrating strategic themes, vision, roadmap, and PI planning. Economic prioritization and the visible flow of work through the various Kanban systems and backlogs provide visibility and transparency.2.Built-in QualityBuilt-in quality is one of the important core values of SAFe®️. The enterprise’s ability to deliver new functionality with the fastest sustainable lead time and to be able to react to rapidly changing business environments is dependent on solution quality. But built-in quality is not unique to SAFe®️. Rather, it is a core principle of the Lean-Agile mindset, where it helps avoid the cost of delays associated with recall, rework, and defect fixing. The Agile Manifesto is focused on quality as well: “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”The following sections summarize recommended practices for achieving built-in quality.SoftwareSAFe®️’s software quality practices—many of which are inspired by Extreme Programming (XP)— help Agile software teams ensure that the solutions they build are high quality and adaptable to change. The collaborative nature of these practices, along with a focus on frequent validation, creates an emergent culture in which engineering and craftsmanship are key business enablers. Test-Driven DevelopmentTest-Driven Development (TDD) is a philosophy and practice that recommends building and executing tests before implementing the code or a component of a system. By validating them against a series of agreed-to tests, TDD—an Agile Testing practice—improves system outcomes by assuring that the system implementation meets its requirements. TDD, along with Behavior-Driven Development (BDD), is part of the ‘test-first’ approach to Build Quality into development. Writing tests first creates a more balanced testing portfolio with many fast, automated development tests and fewer slow, manual, end-to-end tests. Acceptance Test Driven DevelopmentAcceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) is a practice in which the whole team collaboratively discusses acceptance criteria, with examples, and then distills them into a set of concrete acceptance tests before development begins. It’s the best way to ensure that all have the same shared understanding of what it is we are building. It’s also the best way to ensure we have a shared definition of Done.Behavior-Driven DevelopmentBehavior Driven Development (BDD) is a Test-First, Agile Testing practice that provides Built-In Quality by defining (and potentially automating) tests before, or as part of, specifying system behavior. BDD is a collaborative process that creates a shared understanding of requirements between the business and the Development Team. Its goal is to help guide development, decrease rework, and increase flow. Without focusing on internal implementation, BDD tests are business-facing scenarios that attempt to describe the behavior of a Story, Feature, or Capability from a user’s perspective. When automated, these tests ensure that the system continuously meets the specified behavior even as the system evolves. That, in turn, enables Release on Demand. Automated BDD tests can also serve as the definitive statement regarding the as-built system behavior, replacing other forms of behavioral specifications.Continuous IntegrationThis is the practice of merging the code from each developer’s workspace into a single main branch of code, multiple times per day. This lessens the risk of deferred integration issues and their impact on system quality and program predictability. Teams perform local integration at least daily. But to confirm that the work is progressing as intended, full system-level integration should be achieved at least one or two times per iteration.RefactoringRefactoring is “a disciplined technique for restructuring an existing body of code, altering its internal structure without changing its external behavior.” A key enabler of emergent design, refactoring is essential to Agile. To maintain system robustness, teams continuously refactor code in a series of small steps, providing a solid foundation for future development.Pair WorkSome teams follow pair programming, but that may be too extreme for many. More generally, pair work may couple developers and testers on a story. Still, others prefer more spontaneous pairing, with developers collaborating for critical code segments, refactoring of legacy code, development of interface definition, and system-level integration challenges.HardwareHardware quality is supported by exploratory early iterations, frequent system-level integration, design verification, modeling, and set-based design. The Agile architecture supports software and hardware quality.1.System IntegrationDifferent components and subsystems—software, firmware, hardware, and everything else—must collaborate to provide effective solution-level behaviors. Practices that support solution-level quality include:Frequent system and solution-level integrationSolution-level testing of functional and Nonfunctional RequirementsSystem and Solution Demos2.ComplianceSAFe®️ enterprises that build high assurance systems define their approved practices, policies, and procedures in a Lean Quality Management System (QMS). These systems are intended to ensure that development activities and outcomes comply with all relevant regulations and quality standards, as well as providing the required documentation to prove it.3.Transparency Transparency builds trust. Trust, in turn, is essential for performance, innovation, risk-taking, and relentless improvement. Trust exists when the business and development can confidently rely on another to act with integrity, particularly in times of difficulty. Without trust no one can build high-performance teams and programs, nor build (or rebuild) the confidence needed to make and meet reasonable commitments.  And without trust, working environments are a lot less fun and motivating.Here are few SAFe®️ practices which enable trust:ARTs have visibility into the team’s backlogs, as well as other Program Backlogs.Teams and programs commit to short-term, visible commitments that they routinely meet4. Program ExecutionSAFe®️ places an intense focus on working systems and business outcomes. History shows us that while many enterprises start the transformation with individual Agile teams, they often become frustrated as even those teams struggle to deliver more substantial amounts of solution value, reliably and efficiently. That is the purpose of the ART, and that is why SAFe®️ focuses implementation initially at the Program Level. In turn, the ability of Value Streams to deliver value depends on the ability of the ARTs and Solution Trains.ConclusionThe four Core Values of alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution represent the fundamental beliefs that are key to SAFe®️ effectiveness. These guiding principles help dictate behavior and action for everyone who participates in a SAFe®️ portfolio. Successful teams and programs implementing  SAFe®️ have aligned their organizations along these core values and getting many benefits—employee engagement, productivity, quality, and time to market. 
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How SAFe®️ Core Values Quicken The Progress Of An Agile Team

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How SAFe®️ Core Values Quicken The Progress Of An Agile Team

What is Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®️)?

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®️) helps businesses address the significant challenges of developing and delivering enterprise-class software and systems in the shortest sustainable lead time. It is an online, freely revealed knowledge base of proven success patterns for implementing Lean-Agile software and systems at enterprise scale.

Developed in the field, SAFe®️  draws from three primary bodies of knowledge: Agile development, systems thinking, and Lean product development. It synchronizes alignment, collaboration, and delivery for large numbers of Agile teams. Scalable and configurable, SAFe®️ allows each organization to adapt it to its own business needs. It supports smaller-scale solutions employing 50–125 practitioners, as well as complex systems that require thousands of people.

 Why use  SAFe®️ ?

 SAFe®️ combines the power of Agile with systems thinking and Lean product development. It synchronizes alignment, collaboration, and delivery for multiple Agile teams. As a result,  SAFe®️ provides dramatic improvements to business agility, including productivity, time to market, quality, and employee engagement, and more.

SAFe®️ is improving business outcomes for companies of all sizes across the world. It has produced dramatic increases in time to market, employee engagement, higher quality, higher customer satisfaction, and overall improved economic outcomes. It also helps create cultures that are more productive, rewarding, and fun.

SAFe®️  Benefits

Quality

Built-In Quality practices increase customer satisfaction and provide faster and more predictable value delivery. They also improve the ability to innovate. Without quality, the Lean goal of the maximum value in the shortest sustainable lead time cannot be achieved. 

Productivity

When productivity increases, system development economics improves, as does employee engagement. For team members, productivity is a critical, personal need. Everyone feels better when they’re contributing more and doing less wasteful work.

Employee Engagement

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), employees with the highest level of commitment perform 21 percent better and are 65 percent less likely to leave the organization. Clearly, employee engagement is directly linked to business performance.

Faster Time to Market

Lean-Agile frameworks allow businesses to deliver value to the market more quickly. Companies that adopt Agile development practices routinely gain first-mover advantages and enjoy the higher gross margins afforded to market leaders. SAFe®️ enterprises typically see a 30–75 percent (as much as 3x!) improvement in time to market.

SAFe®️ configurations

SAFe®️ supports the full range of development environments with four out-the-box configurations

  • Essential SAFe®️
  • Portfolio SAFe®️
  • Large Solution SAFe®️
  • Full SAFe®️

Essential SAFe®️

The Essential SAFe®️ configuration is the heart of the Framework and is the simplest starting point for implementation. It’s the basic building block for all other SAFe®️ configurations and describes the most critical elements needed to realize the majority of the Framework’s benefits.  Together, the Team and Program Levels form an organizational structure called the Agile Release Train (ART), where Agile teams, key stakeholders, and other resources are dedicated to an important, ongoing solution mission.

Large Solution SAFe®️

The Large Solution SAFe®️ configuration is for developing the largest and most complex solutions that typically require multiple Agile release trains and Suppliers, but do not require portfolio-level considerations. The Solution Train organizational construct of the Large Solution Level helps enterprises that face the biggest challenges—building large-scale, multidisciplinary software, hardware, and complex IT systems. Building these solutions requires additional roles, artifacts, events, and coordination. 

Portfolio SAFe®️

The Portfolio SAFe®️ configuration helps align portfolio execution to the enterprise strategy, by organizing Agile development around the flow of value, through one or more value streams. It provides business agility through principles and practices for portfolio strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance. 

Full SAFe®️

The Full SAFe®️ configuration is the most comprehensive version of the Framework. It supports enterprises that build and maintain large integrated solutions, which require hundreds of people or more and includes all levels of SAFe®️: team, program, large solution, and portfolio. In the largest enterprises, multiple instances of various SAFe®️ configurations may be required. 

Scaled agile framework core values  - SAFe®️

 SAFe®️ is broad and deep and based on both Lean and Agile principles as its foundation.

Importance of core values

  • Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization.
  • The core values are the guiding principles that speak behavior and action.
  • Core values can help people to know what is right from wrong.
  • It helps companies to determine whether they are working on the right path or not.

SAFe®️ upholds four Core Values: alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution, as illustrated in Figure below and described in the following sections.
Scaled agile framework core values

1. Alignment

Alignment ensures that many people act as one unit or team, all pulling in the same direction. Alignment in SAFe®️ is achieved when everyone in the portfolio, and every team member on every ART, understand the strategy and the part they play in achieving it.

SAFe®️ delivers alignment by orchestrating strategic themes, vision, roadmap, and PI planning. Economic prioritization and the visible flow of work through the various Kanban systems and backlogs provide visibility and transparency.

2.Built-in Quality

Built-in quality is one of the important core values of SAFe®️. The enterprise’s ability to deliver new functionality with the fastest sustainable lead time and to be able to react to rapidly changing business environments is dependent on solution quality. But built-in quality is not unique to SAFe®️. Rather, it is a core principle of the Lean-Agile mindset, where it helps avoid the cost of delays associated with recall, rework, and defect fixing. The Agile Manifesto is focused on quality as well:

 “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”

The following sections summarize recommended practices for achieving built-in quality.

Software

  • SAFe®️’s software quality practices—many of which are inspired by Extreme Programming (XP)— help Agile software teams ensure that the solutions they build are high quality and adaptable to change. The collaborative nature of these practices, along with a focus on frequent validation, creates an emergent culture in which engineering and craftsmanship are key business enablers.
  •  Test-Driven Development

    Test-Driven Development (TDD) is a philosophy and practice that recommends building and executing tests before implementing the code or a component of a system. By validating them against a series of agreed-to tests, TDD—an Agile Testing practice—improves system outcomes by assuring that the system implementation meets its requirements. TDD, along with Behavior-Driven Development (BDD), is part of the ‘test-first’ approach to Build Quality into development. Writing tests first creates a more balanced testing portfolio with many fast, automated development tests and fewer slow, manual, end-to-end tests.

  •  Acceptance Test Driven Development

    Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) is a practice in which the whole team collaboratively discusses acceptance criteria, with examples, and then distills them into a set of concrete acceptance tests before development begins. It’s the best way to ensure that all have the same shared understanding of what it is we are building. It’s also the best way to ensure we have a shared definition of Done.

  • Behavior-Driven Development

    Behavior Driven Development (BDD) is a Test-First, Agile Testing practice that provides Built-In Quality by defining (and potentially automating) tests before, or as part of, specifying system behavior.
     
    BDD is a collaborative process that creates a shared understanding of requirements between the business and the Development Team. Its goal is to help guide development, decrease rework, and increase flow. Without focusing on internal implementation, BDD tests are business-facing scenarios that attempt to describe the behavior of a Story, Feature, or Capability from a user’s perspective. When automated, these tests ensure that the system continuously meets the specified behavior even as the system evolves. That, in turn, enables Release on Demand.
     
    Automated BDD tests can also serve as the definitive statement regarding the as-built system behavior, replacing other forms of behavioral specifications.
  • Continuous Integration

    This is the practice of merging the code from each developer’s workspace into a single main branch of code, multiple times per day. This lessens the risk of deferred integration issues and their impact on system quality and program predictability. Teams perform local integration at least daily. But to confirm that the work is progressing as intended, full system-level integration should be achieved at least one or two times per iteration.

  • Refactoring

    Refactoring is “a disciplined technique for restructuring an existing body of code, altering its internal structure without changing its external behavior.” A key enabler of emergent design, refactoring is essential to Agile. To maintain system robustness, teams continuously refactor code in a series of small steps, providing a solid foundation for future development.

  • Pair Work

    Some teams follow pair programming, but that may be too extreme for many. More generally, pair work may couple developers and testers on a story. Still, others prefer more spontaneous pairing, with developers collaborating for critical code segments, refactoring of legacy code, development of interface definition, and system-level integration challenges.

Hardware

Hardware quality is supported by exploratory early iterations, frequent system-level integration, design verification, modeling, and set-based design. The Agile architecture supports software and hardware quality.

1.System Integration

Different components and subsystems—software, firmware, hardware, and everything else—must collaborate to provide effective solution-level behaviors. Practices that support solution-level quality include:

  • Frequent system and solution-level integration
  • Solution-level testing of functional and Nonfunctional Requirements
  • System and Solution Demos

2.Compliance

SAFe®️ enterprises that build high assurance systems define their approved practices, policies, and procedures in a Lean Quality Management System (QMS). These systems are intended to ensure that development activities and outcomes comply with all relevant regulations and quality standards, as well as providing the required documentation to prove it.

3.Transparency

Transparency builds trust. Trust, in turn, is essential for performance, innovation, risk-taking, and relentless improvement. Trust exists when the business and development can confidently rely on another to act with integrity, particularly in times of difficulty. Without trust no one can build high-performance teams and programs, nor build (or rebuild) the confidence needed to make and meet reasonable commitments.  And without trust, working environments are a lot less fun and motivating.

Here are few SAFe®️ practices which enable trust:

  • ARTs have visibility into the team’s backlogs, as well as other Program Backlogs.
  • Teams and programs commit to short-term, visible commitments that they routinely meet

4. Program Execution

SAFe®️ places an intense focus on working systems and business outcomes. History shows us that while many enterprises start the transformation with individual Agile teams, they often become frustrated as even those teams struggle to deliver more substantial amounts of solution value, reliably and efficiently. That is the purpose of the ART, and that is why SAFe®️ focuses implementation initially at the Program Level. In turn, the ability of Value Streams to deliver value depends on the ability of the ARTs and Solution Trains.

Conclusion

The four Core Values of alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution represent the fundamental beliefs that are key to SAFe®️ effectiveness. These guiding principles help dictate behavior and action for everyone who participates in a SAFe®️ portfolio. Successful teams and programs implementing  SAFe®️ have aligned their organizations along these core values and getting many benefits—employee engagement, productivity, quality, and time to market.

 


Mukundan

Mukundan Bashyam

Program/Project Manager

Mukundan Bashyam has more than 15 years of IT experience working in different roles such as Agile Coach, Scrum Master, and Product Owner. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Scrum Master(CSM) and Certified Agile Coach from ICAgile. He is an accomplished Agile trainer for many organizations and a contributing author for KnowledgeHut. Mukundan has a Bachelor’s degree from Indian Institute of Technology (BHU)-Varanasi and a Master’s degree in Industrial Management from National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai. He has worked with startups and large companies like Hewlett Packard(HP), Target Corporation India, Diageo, and Robert Bosch.  

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How to Launch Your 1st SAFe Agile Release Train

So, you are excited to organize and launch your 1st SAFe Agile Release Train. Understanding the importance, structure, and deployment of ART (SAFe Agile Release Train) is the central of SAFe Agile implementation to scale & successfully implement the complex projects, deliver maximum business values and complete the project on time well under the budget. Just like a train carries its passengers to deliver at set destinations within pre-estimated time at defined cost, ART also helps you carry out the projects successfully; however, before starting the journey with an efficient ART, you must know the principles that govern Agile Release Train.    10 Steps to Launching your First SAFe Agile Release Trainhttps://t.co/dNWUfCwMBd pic.twitter.com/rT8FDhqcoj — Yves Mulkers (@YvesMulkers) 27 January 2018 5 Governing Principles for SAFe Agile Release Train:  ART is the self-organised team of Agile Teams. It is composed of Agile teams engaged in development, security, DevOps, Enterprise Architecture etc. ART plans. It commits & executes the processes following a specific timeframe often called - PI (Program Increment). ART must follow a value delivery model for periodic planning and timely release.  ART must follow a common iteration length within the PI.  ART must know the clearly-defined objectives & benchmarks. ART must follow the culture of continuous system integration. The works completed by different teams must be integrated at each sprint to keep the developments in releasable state. ART must respect customer previews, internal reviews, and system level QA.    Roadmap to Launch SAFe Agile Release Train:  1.Train the SAFe Program Consultants (SPCs): Train your SPCs properly, the change agents responsible for transformation and connecting the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to your organization. SPCs teach all the stakeholders & leaders to drive the ART to its destination.  2.Train the Lean Agile Leaders: Lean Agile leaders are expected to understand and implement the principles of SAFe Agile framework. Lean Agile Leaders are also responsible to lead & facilitate SAFe adoption for improved outcomes. And for smooth transition, you need to train the Lean Agile Leaders up to the best standards.   3.Identify Value Streams and ART:  SAFe Agile Release Train is a procedural system; therefore, you should make all the responsibilities of solution defining, building, validation, and deployment etc clear.  4.Organize ART and Agile Teams:  The roadmap to organize the ART and Agile teams contains different millstones including:   Well-defined ‘product’ with features/components Leadership support Collaboration Minimized dependencies Integration Well-managed DevOps activities 5.Define and Fill All The Roles Of ART Members:   The critical roles of ART members must be well defined to help the Release Train Engineer, System Architect, Product Managers, Scrum Masters, Product Owners perform the best at par with customer’s expectations.     6.Prepare the Program Backlog:   The practice of using launch date as the forcing function makes it more urgent to determine the scope and vision of PI. The scope of ‘what is built’ or PI is defined by ‘Program Backlog’ informing about the upcoming features, architectural work, and NFRs. The gained vision about the future behaviour of system helps you create short stories for Agile teams.        7.Train the Teams Train the teams properly to deliver the maximum values at each sprint. It is the key part of ART readiness to ensure the on-the-time best quality ‘product’ delivery. 8.Conduct PI Planning  PI planning is a face-to-face meeting event; it empowers the Agile Release Train to align all the SAFe Agile teams for the shared mission & vision.  9.Set the Program Calendar & Launch Date  Now you have ART definition. The next task is scheduling your 1st PI Planning event focused on the forcing functions and ‘date-specific’ launch with PI calendar. The PI calendar shows the scheduled activities including PI planning, System demos, ART sync, Inspect & Adapt (I&A) workshop etc.  10.Execute Innovation and Planning Iteration:  Now, you are almost at the destination. Innovation and planning iteration is conducted to absorb the variances in estimates, allot time for innovation, refine backlog and to plan ‘Inspect & Adapt’ workshop.  Conclusion: Launching SAFe Agile Release Train (ART) for the first time can be a challenging and complex task; therefore, before going ahead, you should acquire the expertise by joining short-term SAFe 4 Release Train Engineer certification training designed to guide you through for efficient ART launch. .   
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How to Launch Your 1st SAFe Agile Release Train

So, you are excited to organize and launch your 1s... Read More