According to the Agile Alliance, Agile is the “ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment. Ultimately, Agile is a mindset informed by the Agile Manifesto’s values and principles.” We can think of it as a way of getting work done.
However, Agile was initially developed for small teams. As Agile – or its most popular variant Scrum - grew to the enterprise, companies began to adopt Scrum of Scrums which is a technique to scale Scrum consisting of dividing the groups into Agile teams of 5-10 people.
But over time, more formalized methods of scaling Agile began to develop. In 2011, Scaled Agile Framework, Inc. was co-founded by entrepreneur and software development methodologist Dean Leffingwell. Starting at its first release in 2011, five major versions have been released, the latest edition, version 5.0, being released in January 2020. According to SA Inc., no major releases are planned as of this writing.
This article will attempt to explain what the Scaled Agile Framework is, why it is important and what its core values are.
SAFe® for Lean Enterprises is a knowledge base of proven, integrated principles, practices, and competencies for achieving business agility using Lean, Agile, and DevOps.
We’ve discussed Agile above. According to the Lean Enterprise Institute, a lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide value to the customer through a value creation process that has zero waste.*
And DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.
The SAFe® Foundation refers to the supporting principles, values, mindset, implementation guidance, and leadership roles needed to deliver value successfully at scale.
It allows organizations to scale Agile to the enterprise and enables Business Agility. Business Agility is the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative, digitally enabled business solutions.
The first is Value Stream. Value Streams represent the series of steps that an organization uses to implement Solutions that provide a continuous flow of value to a customer. They can be measured using Key Performance Indicators.
The next term is the Agile Release Train (ART). The ART is a long-lived team of Agile teams, which, along with other stakeholders, incrementally develops, delivers, and where applicable operates, one or more solutions in a value stream.
A Program Increment (PI) is a timebox during which an Agile Release Train (ART) delivers incremental value in the form of working, tested software and systems. PIs are typically 8 – 12 weeks long. The most common pattern for a PI is four development Iterations, followed by one Innovation and Planning (IP) Iteration.
Lastly is Program Increment Planning (PI). It is a cadence-based, face-to-face event that serves as the heartbeat of the Agile Release Train (ART), aligning all the teams on the ART to a shared mission and vision. Typically, this is a two-day event bringing together all the Agile teams.
Note that that there are four possible SAFe® configurations depending on the increasing complexity of the environment.
There are four core values of SAFe®. They are alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution. It is crucial to understand these.
As of this writing, the current version of SAFe® is 5.0. It is comprised of seven areas of competency, all under the heading of Business Agility
Alignment can be achieved by providing the relevant briefings and participating in PI planning, helping with backlog visibility and value stream organization and coordination. Also, by communicating the mission, vision, and strategy at every opportunity.
Transparency can be achieved by openness and visualizing all relevant work, taking ownership for errors, and supporting others who acknowledge and learn from their mistakes.
Built-in quality is achieved by refusing to accept or ship low-quality work, by supporting investments in capacity planning and by ensuring that architecture, operations, security, and compliance are part of the flow of work.
Program execution is achieved by participating as an active business owner in PI execution, celebrating high quality and predictably delivered program increments and by aggressively removing impediments.
Business Agility is the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative, digitally enabled business solutions In today’s world, organizations must be customer-centric and must adopt a Lean-Agile mindset to provide continuous integration and continuous delivery. The Scaled Agile Framework establishes a way not only of doing so, but also the flexibility of scaling up to whatever level of adoption (basic to full, complex solution) is required.
Lean waste types are Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Unused Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Extra Processing.
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