SAFe®️ is an agile framework for software development which encourages alignment, collaboration, and delivery across large numbers of agile teams. It was developed by Dean Leffingwell, leveraging three major bodies of knowledge: agile software development, lean product development, and systems thinking. It offers a simple, lightweight experience for the development team.
The entire framework is distributed into four sections Team, Program Level, Large Solution, and Portfolio.
The scalability and configurability provided by SAFe®️ framework support organizations to deliver new products, services, and solutions in the shortest sustainable lead time, along with the best potential quality. It orchestrates alignment, collaboration, and delivery for various Agile teams ensuring every team is focused on the same goal.
With the increase in success rate for the organizations turning towards scaling, the need for them to equip themselves with the right tools, techniques, and people became their top priority. As we all know, from our experience, ‘people’ parameter is crucial for the success of any project or any organization.
There has been a sharp upswing in the demand of certified professionals with the needed skills. The organizations are now turning to people who can demonstrate skills and qualities that can help them adopt the change smoothly. They are now looking into specific areas such as SAFe®️ Agilist who can understand the whole system, who can work with the teams and help out at the different levels in delivering a quality product that can add value to the customer.
Most of us have already seen how SAFe®️ 4.5 works and its benefits, a good part is, now we have SAFe®️ 4.6 which highlights the introduction of the Five Core Competencies of the Lean Enterprise. Before looking at the advantages of Leading SAFe®️ 4.6, we will see the new features in Leading SAFe®️ 4.6.
In addition to the core competencies, this updated version in Leading SAFe®️ includes new government guidance, which describes a set of success patterns that help public sector organizations implement Lean-Agile practices. Mastering the core competencies enables enterprises to successfully respond to volatile market conditions, changing customer needs, and emerging technologies.
Lean-Agile Leadership lies at the very foundation of the framework defining how the Lean-Agile leaders will go about and endure the organizational transformation, to achieve this, they might need to create an environment of learning, exhibiting, teaching, and coaching SAFe®️’s Lean-Agile Mindset, values, principles, and practices. Among the five competencies being introduced, Lean-Agile Leadership forms the root of the framework.
The lean-agile leadership comprises of managers, leaders, and executives who can drive the change and also to continuously work around the improvement needed. These leaders will base their working model on the core values as stated by the scaled agile framework which is alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution.
The leaders embrace the SAFe®️ Lean-Agile mindset which is the combination of beliefs, assumptions, and actions of leaders and practitioners who embrace the concepts in the Agile Manifesto and the SAFe®️ House of Lean. These leaders are the torch-bearers for the organizations in the transformation journey, making it clear where they are and where they need to go.
“Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”—Agile Manifesto
When we talk of making a team the high-performing, we need to understand what all is required in their transition, maybe some critical skills, principles, and practices to support current and future business needs.
Let’s first understand what is team agility - cross-functional, responsible, and dedicated to collective goals, they have all the skills necessary to define, build, test, and deploy value in short iterations.
Now, talking about it in terms of scaling, these teams become part of Agile Release Train (ART), these trains have necessary people to drive towards the solution. They plan, integrate, demo, deploy, release, and learn together.
This was about the team functioning, now let’s move to technical agility, which is, “defines the Agile software engineering principles and practices teams use to deliver solutions quickly and reliably. This includes the Lean-Agile values and principles, eXtreme Programming (XP) practices, Behavior-driven Development (BDD), Agile modeling, built-in quality, proven approaches and patterns for object-oriented software design, and more” – Scaled Agile.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” —Charles Darwin
DevOps is the recipe of traditional values, practices, and tools that upsurges an organization’s capability to provide product and services at high velocity: progressing and refining products at a quicker speed as compared to organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. This swiftness permits organizations to better help their clients and compete more successfully in the market.
The benefits of DevOps include speed, rapid delivery, reliability, scaling, improved collaboration, and security. SAFe®️ talk about the ‘CALMR’ approach and is grounded in five concepts - Culture, Automation, Lean flow, Measurement, and Recovery.
Each concept serve as the foundation pillar for DevOps and in turn, helps with the continuous delivery pipeline. Release on demand is the method through which new functionality is deployed into production and released immediately or incrementally to Customers based on demand.
ARTs and Solution Trains can continuously explore user value, integrate and demo value, deploy to production, and release value whenever the business needs it.
“Showing a strong success and visible benefits is key to getting others to agree to try your way of doing things.”—Frederic Rivain
Definition as per Scaledagile – “The Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering competency describes how to apply Lean-Agile principles and practices to the specification, development, deployment, and evolution of large, complex software applications and cyber-physical systems.”
Earlier when the organizations followed the traditional approach, the cycle time from the birth of an idea to its delivery took enormous time, most of the times the originator of the idea or the teams working on it went for a complete change, it even sometimes took a lifetime(Phew).
Now, we can understand why there were late deployments, budget going over the bounds and issues with quality. This typically consequences in higher than expected maintenance and operations expense, poorer returns, and other business complications.
To deal with it, Scaled Agile Framework gives the direction of building up large-scale solutions in a flow-based, value delivery-focused model, driven by Lean and Agile principles.
The principles provided by Scaled Agile Framework relate directly to the development of all kinds of large and complex systems. They have embedded Lean-Agile values and principles to make sure the customer gets the right value at the right time with the best quality.
“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest. We have to be more disciplined than the rest.” – Warren Buffett
Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) is one of the Five Core Competencies of the Lean Enterprise and it rests at the Portfolio level. This area focuses on how an organization can embrace Lean approaches at the strategic, financial level, Agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance.
The Lean Portfolio Management function carves out its way through a series of three collaborations—strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance— this enables the organization’s ability to accomplish current obligations consistently and enable innovation by building on the foundation of the four other core competencies.
LPM is the process of running a program and product portfolios by applying the concept of lean thinking. This result-oriented method delivers high-quality work by prioritizing and managing the work in the Lean portfolio. It increases the speed of planning and reporting processes and eliminates the time-consuming governance.
In my point of view, this is one of the finest framework developed so far which takes care of the components that other frameworks missed incorporating. It truly focuses on people and product, bringing both of them to rise in terms of skills or qualifications.
With this new addition, the agile teams can enhance the way they work and also THEMSELVES. It takes care of all the levels in the framework, enriching every stage with the refined thought process and Lean-Agile way of working. Starting at the team level and working up towards the Portfolio is truly amazing, along with an emphasis on a value being delivered, it also works on creating a healthy environment for the agile teams to deliver the best of quality. It has the best practices embedded with the framework to support both the stakeholders and the teams by building a Continuous Delivery Pipeline and DevOps culture. Scaled Agile Framework is a large knowledge base of demonstrated principles, competencies and practices, that are assimilated together to help bring about cultural change in organizations, which means the teams will deliver faster, more frequently, on time and on budget.
Whether you believe it or not, SAFe®️ has some truly convincing case studies which prove its claims!!
I have experienced how SAFe®️ helps organizations scale tremendously, I have witnessed the culture shift and the mindset change and with this new version, I can say, go for it, it will really benefit the way you think and the way you work. With the refined version, you will get to see a new way of delivering the best quality.
This upgrade is the need of time! I would like to end this with a lovely quote,
“Quality debt focuses on the impact of implementation and quality decisions on the end user and business; how those decisions affect their ability to do their day-to day-job.”— Jordan Setters
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