SAFe Agile Interview Questions and Answers

With Safe Agile being one of the most in-demand career options, here's a list of top, expert-curated Safe Agile interview questions, and answers that will help you ace web developer job interviews. Whether you are just starting out or you want to brush up your Agile skills, these below top Safe Agile interview questions and Answers drafted will help you confidently to face questions related to job positions like Product Manager, Release Train Engineer and Business Owners. Our SAfe Agile 5.0 Training courses include interview preparation sessions that help you brush up on your web dev skills before your interview. So let us explore these interview questions.

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Beginner

SAFe represents the Scaled Agile Framework. It was built by a software developer to aid the smooth execution of large-scale projects such as those involving a collection of several departments. 

The Scaled Agile Framework stands on 3 major pillars, namely, Agile Development Framework, Lean Product Development, and Systems Thinking. 

Agile is a framework used in project execution as it promotes a progressive auditing process in the course of the project and encourages quick response to dynamics that could be encountered along the way. 

Agile and safe are concepts that cannot be used interchangeably as they are distinct from themselves. 

Agile 

SAFe 

It is a method of organized task execution. 

It includes certain frameworks like Scrum which are used to carry out projects. 

It is a framework designed for the execution of projects on a wider scale. 

SAFe makes use of an Agile framework, on which it builds layers for the addition and monitoring of complex steps. 

SAFe is built around 4 main values and they include: 

1. Maintaining Order 

SAFe practices are geared towards ensuring efficient service delivery through deliberate efforts targeted at improving organized execution processes. 

2. Quality Control/Improvement 

Continual auditing of processes is done to maintain high-quality production majorly through feedback gotten from service consumers. 

3. Pellucidity 

An organization built on trust and transparency will thrive. This culture is imbibed by the SAFe framework and it is a solid foundation on which it stands. 

4. Task Implementation 

The whole idea of the SAFe framework is to get the job done effectively and efficiently. Therefore, one of its values is to focus on improving task execution processes in a bid to optimize business gains and customer satisfaction. 

A distinct service delivered by an establishment to meet the needs of stakeholders is referred to as a feature. They are readied for discharge to clients by a specific Agile ReleaseTrain(ART) following two basic concepts that exist behind every feature, including a benefit hypothesis, and acceptance criteria.
On the other hand, a capability is a more advanced way of solving problems usually executed by several ARTs. They are scaled into a single PI by breaking them up into several features.

SAFe is built around 4 main values and they include: 

1. Maintaining Order 

SAFe practices are geared towards ensuring efficient service delivery through deliberate efforts targeted at improving organized execution processes. 

2. Quality Control/Improvement 

Continual auditing of processes is done to maintain high-quality production majorly through feedback gotten from service consumers. 

3. Pellucidity 

An organization built on trust and transparency will thrive. This culture is imbibed by the SAFe framework and it is a solid foundation on which it stands. 

4. Task Implementation 

The whole idea of the SAFe framework is to get the job done effectively and efficiently. Therefore, one of its values is to focus on improving task execution processes in a bid to optimize business gains and customer satisfaction. 



The foundation of the Scaled Agile Framework is the Lean-Agile methodology and it stands on several principles which are established to maintain built-in quality.

The principle of the lean-agile framework ensures all participants perform their assigned responsibilities to ensure high-quality products. These principles are outlined below. 

  • Subscribe to commercial views 
  • Implement systemic thinking processes 
  • Establish flow and setup iterations on highly effective production systems 
  • Apply rapid result release iterations 
  • Best quality architectural designs, codes
  • Accommodate dynamics, give room for options, and change 
  • Limit cumbersome workload and manage outstanding tasks 
  • Synchronize planning and decentralize decision-making processes 
  • Keep team members participating and motivated 

The SAFe program has a structure, and each member has assigned roles and responsibilities specific to the occupied position. 

  • The Specialized System Team 

The team is broadly responsible for enabling development activities by integrating codes and processes, backlog testing, building enabling environments, testing interface performances, and automated frameworks. 

Every system team carries out an iteration review where an evaluation of the changes experiences are made at the end of a production cycle. They then seek feedback from the product owner and stakeholders which is used to make amendments where necessary such as alterations to the product backlog.

  • Product Manager 

The product manager investigates and comes up with a compilation of what the customers need. Then, prioritize those needs in order of importance and urgency. Afterward, he decides and directs the team via an established product roadmap. 

  • System Designer 

This is a crucial role in the success of a SAFe project. He creates the architectural designs for the entire project, highlights the most important features needed on the designs, and breaks up systems into sub-categories. 

  • Release Train Engineer (RTE) 

RTE is a proficient Scrum master and a coach skilled at high-level task execution, detecting and pointing out risks and roadblocks that may deter a project's progress, and enhancing continuous quality improvement. 

  • Agile Release Train (ART) 

ART is a team built to manage and operate itself. It is an agile team that executes high-level performance activities and operates a value stream system where its product release is made. 

  • Release Management Team 

In addition to the planning and control activities, the release management team decides when to deploy consumer products to clients. They also participate in getting feedback that the team can be used to audit system activities. 

A dynamically evolving project with teams dispersed across different locations is frequently part of the SAFe framework. As such, there is a need to prioritize setting achievable goals that align with business objectives. SAFe supports this alignment by synchronizing team processing through continuous rolling-wave planning methods and establishing monitored enhanced task execution practices.

Secondly, SAFe employs value stream practice which is a group of action plans set up to optimize value added to an initial product user's order to the final delivery.

In SAFe, stories refer to short explanations in the user’s words about particular aspects of the product to be manufactured. 

However, user stories differ from enabler stories. User stories express the needs and want of the users while enabler stories express the support required to carry out tasks.  

User stories are written in the customer's words while enabler stories may involve certain technical terms that the final product user may never come across. 

DevOps is a word obtained by combining Development and Operations. As part of the agile-lean conception, it aids the automation and incorporation of software development and delivery. DevOps helps SAFe organize an effective delivery system able to meet high market demands. It achieves this through the following ways. 

  • By automating systems, DevOps can scale the agile framework by making it easier to monitor processes for accountability and productivity among team members. 
  • Creating smaller teams that help to deliver focused value streams to consumers. 
  • DevOps develop a continuous learning and improvement environment 
  • It develops and promotes positive cultural practices between an organization and members of its team. 
  • Builds an effective feedback system that fosters growth and improvement. 

A fundamental SAFe principle is making continuously improved progress. Although, due to the frequent urgency posed on businesses to deliver products, little or no time is left for quality improvement. 

One way to overcome this is by Innovation and Planning Iterations as it gives room for a dedicated time to carry out IP practices, and also serves the following purposes. 

  • Making plans for discovery and creating innovations to boost those initially made for product delivery. 
  • Taking steps to control and mitigate scope creeps and pitfalls during product development 
  • Enhancing knowledge through the provision of educational services. 
  • Inspects project activities to be carried out and estimates the time and effort required for task execution. 

In SAFe, Tipping Point is used to express a phase when an organization eventually accepts and welcomes change, instead of going against it as it usually would have done.

At this point, several trivial changes in increments become significant enough to disrupt processes and cause a bigger, and more powerful change. 

A company may reach a Tipping Point when it fails to cope with the continuous dynamics of an ever-changing business environment, resulting in an inability to oppose bizarre concepts, and must now accept the changes.

Tipping Points could either be a positive or a negative situation. A Positive Tipping Point results from the development of new capabilities that contain solution strategies and beneficial transformations.

The concept of Built-In Quality is the way by which quality is ensured and maintained at every point in the development cycle.  

This principle advocates assuming responsibility by all team members regardless of what category to which the individual belongs. This is in a bid to minimize time and resource wastage in remodeling a task or fixing up an established defect. 

Generally, there are five dimensions of Built-In Quality required to maintain quality in the Lean-Agile Framework. It is recommended that careful attention is given and they are adhered to.  

These includes: 

Dimensions of Build in Quality

1. System Flow 

The Scaled Agile Framework often operates in a fast-paced environment and rather than pile up activities to be performed at a later time, most SAFe teams execute tasks simultaneously at different levels. 

2. Architectural Framework And Design Quality 

This is an estimate of how a business executes activities to meet current and future trends and requirements. It also helps in the identification and modification of system artifacts.

3. Code Quality 

Practically every system and capability is included in the System code. The speed of response of system developers to features increment determines the quality delivered. 

4. System Trait Quality 

This points to working systems and ensures every member is aware of possible changes to be implemented. It does this by building alignments and integrating solutions. 

5. Release and Delivery Quality 

The Delivery Quality gives room for evaluating the feature benefit hypothesis and determines how fast value can be added to the production process.

It welcomes automation for improved efficiency allowing for more reliable and predictable deliveries and provides an opportunity for returning to a previous model for corrections to be made if a defect is encountered. 

  • SAFe Leadership Professionals have a good understanding of the main principles of Lean-Agile methodology and can execute tasks involving both principles. 
  • They improve efficiency and end-user satisfaction by offering timely delivery of valued products. 
  • SAFe professionals like the ARTs use applications to coordinate and optimize value streams.
  • Training programs are available for SAFe Leadership Professionals to update skills that aid their understanding of Lean-Agile concepts. 
  • They are better suited to coordinate interactions between agile teams and program activities. 
  • Business owners comprise a group of 3 to 5 stakeholders that are saddled with the responsibility of governing and maintaining the efficiency of the value delivered by the specialized Agile Release Teams.

  • In contrast, the Customers are the end-user of the solutions delivered by the Business Owners. They are at liberty to select products and services that apply to the particular value sort.

  • A Customer can either be found within the organization, known as an Internal Customer, or outside the organization known as an External Customer. They are an uncountable majority and involve the entire business market.

The SAFe principles support transparency and foster effective communication which directs the activities executed by teams using the Agile methodology.

This is expressed in the priority placed on clients' satisfaction and feedback used to enact necessary changes for more proficiency in assignment execution. 

SAFe hosts some major events during an Iteration, all targeted at maintaining and improving efficient processes and openness to boost productivity, and collaboration.

They also ensure regular auditing for necessary adjustments to be made to finetune activities that lead to greater success, all for the good of clients. These events are listed below. 

Program Events 

Inspection 

Adaptation 

Iteration Planning 

  • Product Backlog 
  • Responsibility Retrospective 
  • Iteration goal 
  • Prognostication 
  • Iteration Backlog 

Daily Standup Scrum 

  • Advancement towards iteration Goal 
  • Iteration Backlog 
  • Daily Scrum 

Iteration Review 

  • Product Increment 
  • Release of Product Backlog 
  • Organizations market condition 
  • Product Backlog 

Iteration Retrospective Assessment 

  • Nurturing Collaboration between teams 
  • Engineering and Technology 
  • Determination of “Done” 
  • Product Backlog 
  • Practicable action plan 

The Iteration 

Summation of all the work and all events occurring during the development period. 

A Sprint Planning event occurs at the initial stages of an iteration and it is the time when a team plans the activities to be executed in the course of the current sprint. Often, the result can be predicted long before the planning is over. 

The expected outcome of the Sprint Planning is the Iteration Backlog, also called the Sprint Backlog, and it is composed of a brief description of the team achievement aims during the iteration, known as the Iteration Goal. 

This goal keeps stakeholders updated on what is being worked on by the team, minimizing the exhausting task of going through the items in the Product Backlog Artifacts (PBAs). 

During Sprint Planning, a team predicts what will eventually be released through the experience they have acquired over time from learning, inspection, and adaptation processes. All of these are included in the Iteration Backlog and Iteration Goal, and with these, the team is set for success. 

There is a stipulated amount of time expected for sprint planning events as stated by Agile guidelines. For instance, eight hours is estimated to be adequate in planning a one-month sprint, and much less time for a shorter iteration. 

Regardless of the time spent, what is most important is the ability of the SAFe specialized team to create an effective plan adequate to deliver the established items on the product backlog that are required at the end of the sprint. However, there is a recommendation to not exceed eight hours. 

A repeated inability to promptly deliver quality sprint release products on schedule may indicate a need to spend more time on Sprint planning events. If this is sorted, other pitfalls should be assessed to enhance the efficiency of production processes.

There are specific members of a project who are mandated to be present at sprint planning and they include the following. 

  • The specialized system team 
  • Product Owner 
  • System Developers 
  • A Facilitator (Scrum master) 

The System Team crafts the Iteration Goal(s) while the Product Owner and System Developers create the Product Backlog Artifacts (PBAs).

Specifically, the Product Owners point out the most valued PBAs for inclusion, which is then scrutinized by Developers to identify issues that could influence the flow of events and move on to strategize how solutions to these will be executed. 

For a successful sprint planning event, the PBAs must be generated and fine-tuned by the team into sizable dependencies which can be confidently achieved by developers within one iteration. 

A daily SAFe standup meeting is otherwise referred to as Daily Scrum. It is a time allocated for a status update, usually lasting about 15 minutes per day. 

The participants are Team Members, the Product Owner, and the Scrum Master who facilitates the meeting. 

Below is a list of activities carried out during the daily stand-up meeting. 

  • Scrutinize and synchronize ideas
  • Evaluate progress already made on a Burndown chart against the sprint and product backlog estimates.
  • Ask fundamental questions such as; 
  • What was done yesterday? 
  • What will be done today? 
  • Are there any identifiable Scope Creeps to be addressed? 
  • Encourage contributions and collaboration between team members. 

An Iteration Review is the analysis of the Program Increment (PI), done towards the end of each iteration based on the responses gotten back from project stakeholders or product owners.

The Iteration Review is important in the following ways. 

  • It provides a means of acquiring information necessary for forthcoming iterations. 
  • For gathering corresponding feedback
  • To measure the team’s progress
  • To evaluate the efficiency of a team on an iteration 
  • To alter and suggest possible solutions to the project team backlog. 

These ultimately lead to the improvement of subsequent sprints.

The Iteration Review differs from an Iteration Retrospective in that the former is not a meeting, whereas, the latter is a conventional meeting carried out by the SAFe team to discuss progress and how to make future improvements. 

“Looking behind to make forward advancement”, this phrase explains the Sprint Retrospective.

It is the final event in a sprint, often lasting about an hour. It involves a revision done by the team to discuss outcomes of sprints, review current practices, and recognize, discuss and make strategic plans toward self-improvement for future iterations. 

One characteristic of SAFe is that it supports continuous improvement and development regardless of how efficient a team has previously been, as there is always room for upgrade. 

An entire Agile team, its Developers, Leaders, and the Product Owner are expected to be present in such discussions to ensure all aspects are properly covered and accounted for during the Retrospective. 

The formats for performing a Sprint retrospective which is used for the evaluation of the success of an iteration can be elicited by these techniques. 

  • Conventional method where an open discussion is organized to discuss the three important questions of what was done right, what was wrongly done, and how to make future improvements. 
  • Individually written retrospect to be evaluated by the group 
  • Acknowledgments notes of assistance rendered to the team at some point 
  • Theoretical evaluation whereby a word or few words are used to describe the sprint. 
  • Rating the sprint on a scale and inventing ways to make the next sprints better 

Each Sprint Retrospective can be a quantitative or a qualitative assessment. Other aspects embedded are a Features Agreement Retrospective and a Time and Materials Retrospective. 

The Quantitative Retrospective Assessment entails any metrics used by the team in measuring performance and determining whether the last Iteration Goal was achieved. In this analysis, retrieval of the Iteration matrix is done to enhance visibility and help improve process execution.

Examples of the quantitative survey comprise the assessment of team velocity, amount of delivered stories, the number of flaws addressed, assigned capacities, and the conservation of automated execution processes. 

However, the Qualitative Retrospective Assessment focuses on the team practices and the obstacles encountered in the previous iterations in order to establish their etiologies and discuss possible remedial actions. 

SAFe practices are consumer-centric and therefore require an in-depth understanding of certain key elements which are often implemented within the Lean-Agile framework. 

Listed below are important elements to be considered for a successful SAFe implementation. 

  • Properly defined Lean-Agile principles 
  • The functionality of Real Agile Teams and Agile Release Trains (ARTs). 
  • Synchronization and routinization of successive iterations. 
  • Clarity of the SAFe program events and roadmap 
  • Inspection and adaptation 

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) excels at maintaining relevance despite evolving business trends through the aforementioned guiding principles. 

The Lean-Agile leaders are saddled with the responsibility of conserving, protecting, and improving the value of release products and they are only able to achieve these through deliberate efforts. 

In SAFe, the CDIPs support value by building a wide list of improvement modalities that include, but are not limited to the following: 

1. Sample automation which includes; 

  • Test Sample-Driven Development 
  • Action-Driven Development 
  • Sustained Integration 

2. Continual improvement of Built-In Quality 

3. Automation of release processes 

4. Enhancing efficient Release on Demand process 

5. Development of measurement and retrieval techniques into systems. 

The SAFe Teams Certification is allotted by the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). This certification is highly recommended for SAFe teams due to its many benefits. 

  1. It helps validate and illustrate proficiency in the application of Agile principles. 
  2. Provides proof of ability to function effectively in a SAFe Agile environment. 
  3. Preparing for the interview helps the candidate get updated on new and improved concepts in the Agile methodology. 
  4. Creates certified experts in the SAFe ready to deliver improved customer services. 

There are four developmental configurations that SAFe supports. These includes: 

  • Essential SAFe 
  • Portfolio SAFe 
  • Fully complete SAFe 
  • Wide range/ Large Solution SAFe 

However, the essential and portfolio SAFe are the most frequently encountered. 

Essential SAFe is the simplest starting point for executing SAFe practices as it is the first organized level and contains the main components necessary to actualize maximum benefits from established frameworks. 

On the other hand, Portfolio SAFe offers the basic foundation upon which the lean-agile framework is structured for the free flow of value stream thereby, promoting the coordinated execution of business strategy. 

Advanced

A continuous Delivery Pipeline (CDP) represents the flow of activities required to produce a functioning and automated system from its inception to the point where demand is placed for distribution to its final users. 

The CDP follows through four continuous phases, including, the stage of the investigation, incorporation, stationing, and lastly "delivery on request". 

The CDP's final stage is delivery on request or demand, and it is responsible for setting up the latest capabilities and making them available for customers at the point of demand.

By doing so, products to be released are differentiated from stationary ones, thereby delivering only appropriate and well-prepared goods to clients. 

In order to keep the ball rolling in SAFe practices, an architectural runway system was developed. It is a group of significant practices aiding the development of a system design, together with the execution of new organizational functionalities. Therefore, it must portray certain dynamics to enable rapid evolution.

The agile architectural runway is made up of subsisting codes, elements, and technical components needed to execute features within the project's reach without time wastage. 

Similar to the design of an actual runway for landing airplanes, the agile architectural runway is designed and kept in place to ensure a project gets a good landing. 

The features used in this design comprise technological strategies enabling the development of newer business ideas. The runway is flexible and permits modifications through the intuition of the agile project team. 

In SAFe, there needs to be an established architectural setup to aid team build-up, but this is often frequently challenging. Hence, architects must take responsibility for ensuring the runway is designed and functioning at its best. In the least scaling phase, the architectural runway is built by the agile teams. 

1. Momentum 

It is necessary to monitor the pace of progress made and this is achieved by summing up all already authorized and estimated stories. 

2. Task category allocation 

This gives a clear view of how team members prioritize and spend the time allocated to different activities. It shows what consumes more or less time. 

3. The consciousness of defects removal

With members' awareness of the removal of defects, focus can be placed on the production of quality deliverables. 

4. Cumulative workflow chart 

This is a graphical representation of the uniform workflow whereby, the horizontal axis represents time and the vertical axis depicts the number of efforts. 

5. Burndown Iteration matrix 

A sprint burndown matric helps to monitor completed iterations on a project. 

6. Teamwork efficiency 

This matric focuses on enabling business value to be delivered. It acts as a measure against a certain 100-point system for every project. 

7. Measurement of time interval 

This measurement is achieved using the ratio of the various number of code lines to their relative number.

8. Defect rectification time 

This matrix explains the instances and time taken for team members to discover and resolve system bugs.

Examples of such cases are system virus removal, setting up a time for a maintenance fix, also, when a bug is resolved and lastly, when feedback for a fixed defect is received. 

Lean product development is the foundation on which SAFe is based. It aims to provide the topmost value to clients without wasting much time and resources. 

The following are the goals of lean thinking in SAFe. 

  • Boosts production flow of end-user products. 
  • The lean-agile principles enhance the understanding of the system's developmental processes. 
  • Encloses a vast archive of tools and procedures to aid teams in the production of quality products. 
  • Maintains a respectable work environment culture. 

The concept of value stream was introduced to SAFe for developers of basic and complex solutions, which often require support from various distributors and Agile Release Trains (ARTs). 

Primarily, the goal value streams are to utilize lean-agile processes in a coordinated manner to recognize, build and deliver essential critical-level solutions, and they include; 

  1. Established decision-making constructed through the monitoring of a financial framework. 
  2. A database server that tracks solution intents and documents predicted and confirmed solutions. 
  3. A solution context that explains the provided placements in the distribution framework. 
  4. Capabilities that best explain the most significant behaviors of the solution system. 

Program Increment (PI) is a period during which an agile team delivers additional value to working systems. PIs usually take between 8 to 12 weeks through four different sprints, namely Planning, Execution, Inspection, and Adjustment phases together with a single Innovation and Planning (IP) iteration. 

In simple terms, a PI serves the purpose of strategizing, executing, and validating system increment processes while receiving feedback for enhancing rhythmical patterns and harmonization. 

The timeline for developmental iterations is broken up within a PI into sections in SAFe. It combines the developed values into relevant milestones to effectively monitor the solutions being developed. 

There are several entities encompassed in a Wide range/ Large solution SAFe, they include: 

  • Capabilities 

They are more advanced features subdivided into levels to aid their execution in one PI. 

  • Education Milestones 

They depict specific progress areas within a period of time and utilize their benefits in teaching, estimating, and monitoring risks to achieve growth. 

  • Defects 

A defect is an item on the product backlog that fails to meet the expected and anticipated requirement resulting in its rejection. Examples are flaws, system bugs, or errors in a solution. 

  • Program Increment (PI) Intent  

It shows a summary of the business objectives aimed to be accomplished by the agile team. 

  • Uncertain prospects 

These are risks that pose a threat to the success of the project's outcome.

  • Recollections 

It is a reflection of events by team members in order to come up with solutions and ways of overcoming similar challenges in the future. 

Agile and DevOps are tools used in the promotion of software development techniques across the globe. Both concepts have distinct advantages and it is more beneficial to an organization combined. 

The major difference between Agile and DevOps is that Agile is a concept used to build and launch software while DevOps considers unique ways to maintain a continual supply of codes and values via the use of advanced automated operations for a project. 

Below are some other differences between DevOps and Agile methodology. 

 Criteria 

Agile 

Methodology 

DevOps 

Concept 

Uses iterations to bring about an additional change in development cycles 

Fosters partnership for better productivity 

Purpose 

Incremental deliveries in advanced projects 

Progressive testing and integration 

Delivery 

Develops and launches software 

Surveys for safe deployment 

Group size 

Teams with fewer exceptionally skilled members 

The multi-skilled team is often large enough to accommodate several members 

Report 

Less documentation 

Elaborate documentation 

The Agile Release Trains (ART) are composed of business models for the construction of a vast range of coordinated compound outcomes, termed, Solution Trains.  

The ARTs is a specialized Agile team made of many members from about 50 to 125 people who are experienced in executing tasks, testing, deploying, and releasing end-user products. 

Solution trains, on the contrary, are a business construct used to develop large and more elaborate results and that aids ARTs to align via combined values, vision, direction, and Program Increment (PIs) strategies. 

 A great and easy way to present information is by the use of pictorial illustrations which can be in the form of a diagram. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) supports the diagrammatic representation of data such as the CFD which may be favored by some Agile frameworks, while others may prefer a Burndown chart, all in a bid to simplify the cumbersome task of data representation. 

Unlike the Burndown chart, which only gives information about what work is left in the current development phase, a Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) gives information about the requirements present at every given stage and presents grouped data that assists in recognizing project dependencies, making project analysis less tasking as all needed data is represented on one diagram. 

It places focus on the “Backlog” curve representing tasks to be executed and on the “Done” curve indicating the departure or release of iterations. 

 
While this may not be an easy task, understanding subtle changes in the CFD may be an indication of a period of stagnation, demonstrated by the flattening of the curves or a rapid incline of curves which may point to marked deadline pressure.

 
Also, it is not uncommon to find the 'actualization' and 'done' curves getting extremely close, this could result from delayed production or testing of products by system developers despite the adequacy of the team. 

 
Lastly, the curves could fall indicating a defect in the production process at the point of the decline. This may result from failure to complete features that were previously accepted. Another rare cause of a flattening curve could result from wrongly discarding an already approved feature. 

There are 3 main steps involved in the creation of the Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD).

Establishing structure 

The CFD is represented in form of a chart with the number of task efforts on the vertical axis and the allocated time frame on the horizontal axis which could also indicate the number of sprints remaining in the development process. 

 It is noteworthy that, with more availability of information, the chart becomes more complex and detailed. 

Items to be mapped in a CFD can be included within these stages. 

  1. Within the Backlog phase 
  2. In the Actualization phase 
  3. In the Done phase 

In an Agile project, these stages can be used to summarize multiple sub-levels to aid ease of understanding.

Interpretation and analysis of the curves 

In an ideal setting, all curves slant upwards towards the upper edge of the backlog. This is slightly different from a burndown chart where the slant of closed requirements expands when a production process is thriving, this is because there is an increase in many closed tasks when one requirement is removed. 

In the actualization curve, tasks are followed by each other while the backlog remains the same or changes in isolation when a requirement is added or removed from it. This can then be used to prognosticate when a product can be delivered. 

For correct and proper interpretation and analysis, one must have a good grasp of the “Concept of Done”, to ensure the execution of the correct task. 

Identification of possible problems  

Possible problems as earlier discussed could be indicated by: 

  1. Flattening curves 
  2. The rapid ascent of curves 
  3. Closing gaps between curves 
  4. A rapid fall of the curves. 

Broadly, there are 4 levels in SAFe, and each level has various events occurring within. SAFe has critical/ essential parts made up of the program team and the program levels and discretionary or optional parts which include the Large solution and Portfolio SAFe levels.  

The whole essence of grouping events into levels in a SAFe framework is to ensure the execution of customer-based services which satisfies the final product users. 

 
Although some of these events may be tagged non-essential and considered to be optional, regardless, when combined with the essential events, they ensure value to the CDP (Continuous Delivery Pipeline) and in turn, boosts productivity and net worth of delivered products to customers and project stakeholders within the specified project timebox. 

These four levels in SAFe are further subdivided into various events as shown in the table below. 

SAFe Team Level 

SAFe Program Level 

SAFe Large Solution Level 

SAFe Portfolio Level 

  • Sprint planning 
  • Planning the PI 
  • Prior and post-PI planning 
  • Portfolio Lean Budget Review 
  • Daily SAFe Standups 
  • Synchronizing ARTs 
  • Solution Demo 
  • Practice Communities 
  • Sprint Review 
  • System Demo 

 
 

  • Portfolio Sync Events 
  • Sprint Retrospective 
  • Inspection and Adaptation 

 
 

  • Final Work Display 

The SAFe team is made up of several members who work tirelessly to ensure all sprints are executed within the specified allocated time.

The SAFe Team-Level Events are listed and detailed below. 

1. Sprint Planning 

In this event, the SAFe team brings user stories to unanimity and decides on the particular story to be carried out in the following sprints. Next, they develop and agree on techniques for the undertaking and delivery of the iteration. 

2. SAFe Daily Standups 

These are meetings performed every day at a specified time and venue to discuss and review progress made the previous day, and to plan how that present day's activities will be conducted. 

3. Sprint Review 

This is auditing done by the agile team for concluded stories during an iteration. With this, they can get feedback and input from major stakeholders to review the team's production activities. 

4. Sprint Retrospective  

At the SAFe team level, a recollection of past procedure methods for necessary modifications is made by the working team. 



The program level is essential, and at this landmark, certain events are performed, which include the following. 

1. Planning The Program Increment (PI) 

The PI planning event depicts how the release teams are mobilized to center their overall decisions and plans around the PI goals. Here, they decide early on which sprint will require premium prioritization to enable its timely release. In this event, product dependencies and risks are anticipated and detected, and solutions are provided. 

2. Synchronizing Agile Release Trains (ARTs) 

This is also called the ART sync and it is done for project stakeholders to evaluate and make modifications at the program level to mitigate barriers and enhance progress. 

3. System Demo 

This event is added to the team sprint feedback system and comprises the display of all concluded sprints to the product owner and stakeholders. The significance of this is to ensure all aspects of the scope are integrated into the displayed work.

4. Inspection and Adaptation 

This is a concluding event at the integral SAFe program level and entails a demonstration of the PI system demo which is similar but different from the system demo in that it indicates the current status of a solution. 

It also involves a qualitative and a quantitative assessment where the ART presents the available metrics to its members for measurement. 

 Lastly, it includes a workshop for problem-solving. Here, the team performs a brief retrospective analysis of the PI intending to detect major sources of deficiencies and organize measures to resolve them to avoid a future recurrence. 

At this level, the system capabilities are put into consideration as a reference, instead of just the simple features or user stories. 

Prior and Post PI Planning 

Before and after the event, it is necessary to consider the institution of specific ART PI plans to foster alignment and collaboration between multiple ARTs and boost relevance and efficiency. 

Solution Demo 

The effort of the solution trains during the production process is displayed for stakeholders to see in the Solution Demo. This is the level where stakeholders applaud the accomplishments of team members on the final PI. An avenue for suggestions on future deliveries can also be made while highlighting capabilities and demands. 

There are 4 events at the Portfolio SAFe level that are less controlled because numerous differences exist depending on the business structure. Below are some examples of events at the Portfolio level. 

1. Portfolio Lean - Budget Review 

This is where a periodical review is performed on the available multiple value streams. The technique employed to conduct this review is termed Participatory Budgeting and a decision on an acceptable allocation is made by relevant stakeholders. In most cases, this event is carried out bi-annually.

2. Practice Communities 

The SAFe structure has a program management office set up to assist Release Train Engineers to coordinate the exchange of experience and collaboration during the Portfolio event. 

3. Portfolio Sync Event 

The main aim is to determine the effectiveness of the sprint moving towards achieving its anticipated result and may include a revision of value streams. This event is facilitated by the project stakeholders or the program management office and regularly takes place every 2 weeks. 

4. Final Work Display 

This is a final presentation of the completed work across various solution trains at the level of the organization. 

Some may utilize this event to gather feedback and suggestions for the final release.

The Agile Release Train (ART) entails a business model for the construction of a wide range of coordinated compound outcomes, termed, Solution Trains.  

The ARTs is a specialized Agile team made of many members from about 50 to 125 people who are experienced in executing tasks, testing, deploying, and releasing end-user products. There are about 3 to 10 ARTs present in 1 - Solution Train.  

 Solution trains are a business construct used to generate large and more elaborate results. They aid ARTs to align via integrated values, vision, direction, and Program Increment (PIs) strategies. 

A Value Stream is a group of fundamental standards constructed to boost the worth of services provided from the early request point made by a client to the development stage, and finally to the stage of product release. It is an extended cycle of actions that aids understanding, coordination, and continual delivery of value.
This is similar to the ART in that they are an organized team established to produce a continuous and incremental delivery of value in a value stream. The ART is the team that executes, delivers, and provides support for an organization's established value stream. 

Both are the business support of a SAFe execution and are essential to the successful completion of an iteration. It is, therefore, necessary to identify and use them effectively and this includes a basic comprehension of the updated business model to facilitate the continuous flow of value across different activity boundaries.
The structure of the Value Stream entails several aspects. Initially, certain significant events stimulate the flow of value such as a new order placed by a customer, and ends with the deployment of goods. The next element is divided up into steps from 1 to ‘n’, which are used by the organization to accomplish its aims.
Next, is the Value, which is delivered to the customer when the Value Streams are complete. The involved systems and people make up the subsequent aspect. Lastly is the Lead Time which is all-encompassing of the period covered from the initial triggering stimulant to the present Lead Time. A way to reduce the Lead Time is to take out irrelevant activities included that result in delays and prolongation of iterations. 

In the Scaled Agile Framework, product development focus is placed both on planning for future increments as well as on reviews of past events, the innovations and build of relevant areas, and on aspects from past activities that should be imbibed and built upon. 

All these are reflected in the PI System Demo. It also shows the current progress of the Solution and conveys knowledge within an internal system that has different teams to enable members to have a general overview and learn from themselves.

Therefore, the PI System Demo is intended for the Agile Development Team. Because a deep understanding of all the functionalities across various levels of development by all team members has a positive effect in bringing the business clients on board to provide them with sufficient information and ensure they achieve maximum benefits from future product development. 

How do Agile and SAFe Frameworks vary? Describe the four core values of SAFe?

Agile is a broad term covering several frameworks, one of which is SAFe. SAFe was established by Dean Leffingwell and was created explicitly for large-scale enterprise projects. It mounts up other models like Scrum to an enterprise level.

It is based on three fundamental principles:

  1. Agile Development
  2. Lean Product Development
  3. Systems Thinking.

 The four core values of SAFe are: 

  1. Alignment - Maintaining pace with the instantaneous modifications 
  2. Built-in quality - Every component must be up to the quality criteria 
  3. Transparency - Trust and reliability 
  4. Program Execution - Deliver continuously and efficiently 

SAFe 5.0 was launched in January 2020 and contains seven core competencies around customer centricity. They are: 

  1. Enterprise solution delivery: The Enterprise Solution Delivery competency defines how to lay Lean-Agile principles and techniques to the specification, development, deployment, procedure or operation, and evolution of the world’s most extensive and refined software applications, networks, and cyber-physical systems. 
  2. Agile product delivery: Agile Product Delivery is a customer-centric technique for defining, producing, and casting a constant flow of valuable products and services to customers and users. 
  3. Team and technical agility: The Team and Technical Agility competency depict the vital skills and Lean-Agile principles and techniques that high-performing Agile teams utilize to produce high-quality solutions for their customers. 
  4. Lean-Agile leadership: The Lean-Agile Leadership competency illustrates how Lean-Agile Leaders drive and support organizational change and functional excellence by entrusting individuals and teams to attain their highest potential. 
  5. Lean portfolio management: The Lean Portfolio Management competency aligns strategy and execution by using Lean and systems thinking techniques to strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and governance. 
  6. Continuous learning curve: Continuous learning is the technique of learning new skills and knowledge continuously. This can come in many forms, from formal course-taking to informal social learning. It involves self-initiative and taking on challenges. 
  7. Organizational agility: The Organizational Agility competency defines how Lean-thinking individuals and Agile teams optimize their business processes, evolve strategy with precise and clear new commitments, and quickly adapt the organization to capitalize on new opportunities. 

A value stream is a long-lived sequel of stages utilized to provide value, from customer demand to delivery of a definite outcome for the customer.

The image beneath depicts the anatomy of a value stream. 

An event starts the flow of value; it could be a consumer request, a new element, or a feature requirement. It concludes when some value has been delivered, like a shipment, customer purchase, or solution deployment. The activities in between are the enterprise's steps to accomplish the task. So, a value stream includes the people who do the work, the methods they develop or operate, and the flow of knowledge and materials. 

The Continuous Delivery Pipeline denotes the workflows, activities, and automation required to design a new element of functionality from imagination to the release of value to the end user.

The pipeline consists of four parts: 

  1. Continuous Exploration (CE) 
  2. Continuous Integration (CI) 
  3. Continuous Deployment (CD) 
  4. Release on Demand 

SAFe brings multiple benefits and also comes with its own drawbacks, like: 

  1. SAFe needs to take more of a top-down rather than a team-based procedure. 
  2. Heavily stresses the use of its particular procedures and rules without leaving considerable room for customization on the part of the organization. 
  3. Extra layers of oversight, administration, and coordination of SAFe make it resemble the waterfall approach many teams are trying to leave behind. 

Description

For applying agile principles at an enterprise scale, there is a set of organizational and workflow patterns called the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). A body of knowledge known as the framework provides systematic direction on roles and responsibilities, how to organize and manage the work, and values to uphold. 

SAFe encourages coordination, cooperation, and delivery among numerous agile teams. It was built on the principles of three main bodies of knowledge: systems thinking, lean product development, and agile software development. 

As businesses grow in size, SAFe provides a structured approach for scaling agile. There are four configurations in SAFe to accommodate various levels of scale: Essential SAFe, Large Solution SAFe, Portfolio SAFe, and Full SAFe. Check out KnowledgeHut's Agile Certification to learn more about SAFe 

Dean Leffingwell and Drew Jemilo released SAFe in 2011 to help organizations design better systems and software that better meet customers’ changing needs. At that time, teams used traditional project management processes to deliver software. But as the need to rapidly respond to changing market conditions increased, new frameworks emerged to help businesses improve solution delivery across their enterprises, and SAFe was born. Today, SAFe is one of the most popular scaled agile delivery frameworks, and SAFe’s worldwide community of practitioners continue to evolve it. 

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