July 25, 2016

Agile Transformation with SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

Written by Jannette Brace

Last month I wrote about how transforming your organization from waterfall to Agile is like being on a diet (here). For me the next question is what kind of diet do you want to be on; or where do we start with our transformation?

As someone who has worked with countless teams to help them implement Scrum, I am always encouraging organizations to look beyond the team. Organizations need to do more than just teach their teams how to follow good Agile practices. They must walk the talk, and start following Lean-Agile practices themselves. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) supports whole organization transformation.

What I like about SAFe, is it addresses the concerns I hear most often. Concerns such as: What do we do about our PMO? How do we handle CapEx/OpEx? How do we “control” a project reporting on its progress and tracking?

While SAFe may scare some small organizations with its “Big Picture” on the landing page. SAFe really isn’t scary at all. The SAFe framework gives you everything you need to consider to transform your organization from waterfall and a project-driven focus to using Lean-Agile methods to deliver solutions.

As with any change, start with leadership. Lay the foundation for success, and bring the entire organization along for the journey. For very large organizations, just expand the big picture from its three-layer default (Team, Program, Portfolio), and you will see the newer Value Stream layer. The Value Stream Layer will be a necessity if you have very large solutions with many hundreds or thousands of team members working to deliver a solution, but has many roles and concepts that will support even smaller organizations. Most notably for everyone is the article on keeping an economic focus.

SAFe is a diet for transforming your organization that given the basics of eating healthy, also provides a pick and choose menu so that each organization will have what it needs to be successful. If you haven’t taken a look at SAFe 4 with the added layer for managing Value Streams, I encourage you to do so. As for us old-timers it’s hard to find fault with a framework that supports all that Scrum has to offer at a team level, while addressing the rest of the organization giving us tools to ensure a successful Agile transformation.

SAFe

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