Are organizations really more Agile with SAFe?
- Detractors of SAFe
- Miraculous results?
- Cadence (timing)
- Tracking Hierarchies
- Social Media
- Other Information
This page contains my notes about working with the Scaled Agile Framework for enterprises (or SAFe), which are proven success patterns for implementing Lean-Agile software and systems development at enterprise scale, in the context of using CA Agile Central.
Detractors of SAFe
This page also reconciles the use of CA Agile Central for SAFe. The on-line tool was renamed from Rally after CA bought it in 2015. CA offers online classes at https://ondemand.agileu.com
SAFe Version 1.0 was first published in 2011.
SAFe V3.0 was released July 28, 2014.
The framework’s name was changed in January 2016 to
“SAFe 4.0 for Lean Software and Systems Engineering” on ScaledAgileFramework.com:
v4.5 “Essential SAFe” consists of the bottom two layers named “TEAM” and “PROGRAM”. “Portfolio SAFe” adds the top “PORTFOLIO”. “Large Portfolio SAFe” replaces PORTFOLIO with “LARGE SOLUTION”. “Full SAFe” includes both “PORTFOLIO” and “LARGE SOLUTION”.
There are 3 level and 4 level views. The 4-level view diagram:
Changes from v3 to v4 incorporates “Lean” principles and terms.
SAFe Requirements Model
PROTIP: To make sure I’ve clicked through all the positions on the above diagram at http://www.scaledagileframework.com, I made this alpabetical list of links:
- About SAFe
- Agile Release Train (ART)
- Agile Architecture
- Agile Team
- Architectural Runway
- Built-In Quality
- CapEx and OpEx
- Communities of Practice
- Coordination (of Value Stream)
- Daily Stand-up (DSU)
- Develop on Cadence, Release any time
- Economic Framework
- Enablers (spikes)
- Enterprise Architect
- Inspect and Adapt workshop (using Problem Statement, Fishbone Root Cause Diagram, Pareto Chart)
- Implementation Roadmap
- Iteration Execution
- Iteration Goals
- Iteration Planning
- Innovation and Planning Iteration
- Lean-Agile Center of Excellence
- Lean-Agile Mindset
- PI Objectives
- Product Owner (PO)
- Portfolio Business Epic (items that cross trains)
- Portfolio Backlog
- Portfolio Kanban
- Pre and Post PI Planning
- Program Backlog
- Program Kanban
- Program Increment (PI)
- Program Level
- Program PI Objectives
- Release Any Time
- Release Train Engineer
- Release Management
- SAFe Core Values
- SAFe Lean-Agile Principles
- SAFe Requirements Model
- Scrum Master
- Solution Architect/Engineering
- Solution Context
- Solution Demo
- Solution Intent
- Spanning Palette
- Strategic Themes
- System Architect/Engineering
- System Demo of all accumulated features to customer representatives.
- Team Backlog
- Team Demo
- Team Kanban
- Team Level
- Team PI Objectives
- Value Streams
- Value Stream Backlog
- Value Stream Coordination
- Value Stream Engineer
- Value Stream Epics
- Value Stream Kanban
- Value Stream Level
Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)
A quote is offered in each abstract above.
The Rally / CA Agile Central tool adds these concepts:
- A defect suite groups defects together
- Work items refer to Tasks
- Rank among items in lists
- Expedite flag
- Test Sets
- Test Case (TC)
- Dependencies of Task Predecessors and Successors
Flows (CA Flowdock)
There are so many concepts in the framework because it incorporates concepts from many others (Deming, Ishikawa, Agile, Scrum, XP, Lean, Kanban, Systems Thinking, etc.).
Projects in CA
PROTIP: The word “project” is absent from the SAFEe vocabulary. In many ways, the Project Management Institute’s frameworks lost out because of its temporary focus (the definition of “project”) vs. SAFEe’s implicit assumption of continuing permanance.
- Each “Workspace” holds projects for each organization in CA Agile Central.
QUESTION: Project in CA is “Capability” in SAFe, such as “Shopping website” and “Shopping team”.
Change Management in CA
The Rally / CA Agile Central tool adds change management fields:
- Affected Customers
- Affects Doc
- Change Author
- Closed Date
- Creation Date
- In Progress Date
- Watches for specific work items
PROTIP: Standardize abbreviations to avoid confusion while making more content in item descriptions.
PROTIP: Memorize the acronyms (in parentheses) using my Quizlet of flash cards. Click on the term’s text for it to be pronounced out loud. Click above a term to see its definition (and visa versa). Click the star to mark ones you want to see again. Click the right button for the next flash card.
A competitor to SAFe is Daikibo (“large scale” in Japanese), trademarked by Cognizant consultants. Xavier Morera has a video tutorial on it on Pluralsight.
QUIZ: Does the Product Owner size backlog items along with delivery team members?
I think part of the reason for the success of the SAFe framework is that it directs the work of many roles in the organization, not just to only developers or only quality assurance people or only project managers, etc.
SAFe recommends training in their Implementation Roadmap:
But here is another:
Several case studies and the About page claim significant improvements:
- 20 – 50% increase in productivity
- 50%+ increases in quality
- 30 – 75% faster time to market
- Measurable increases in employee engagement and job satisfaction (Happier, more motivated employees)
Introductions to the framework by Dean Leffingwell, in several media:
- Video in 8 minutes SAFe® Foundations 4.0
- Video in 22:52 minutes by Dean Leffingwell
- http://www.scaledagile.com/safe-whitepaper/ White Paper
- PowerPoint of 33 slides with talk script in notes
- PDF at SlideShare.com
- Book: Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise. Addison-Wesley, 2011
An Agile Release Train (ART) provides architectural, engineering, and User Experience guidance to help teams build systems that support current and upcoming user and business needs. Each ART is a long-lived, self-organizing team of Agile Teams, a virtual organization (5 – 12 teams) that plan, commit, and execute together to a single Vision, Roadmap, and Program Backlog.
Individual Agile Teams typically consist of 5-9 people who work in Program Increments (PIs) of 10 weeks consisting of 5 two-week sprints to release deployments of finished deliverables to customers.
There are also System Teams that provide enablement.
The mid-range planning timebox contains releases of 3-months each.
“Develop on Cadence, Release Any Time.”
CA’s tutorial (at [0:23]) recommends estimating 6 hours per regular day from each team member.
CA provides horizontal swimlanes to highlight tasks marked expedite.
CA’s Kanban Board has these default columns of task Kanban states:
- On Deck
- Ready to Pull
- Test Planning in Team Kanban
- Building (In Dev in Team Kanban)
- In Testing in Team Kanban
WIP limit limits how much work in each state.
In CA’s Personal Work Burndown Chart, blue columns of ToDo’s vs. green columns of Accepted items «strong>remaining</strong> at the end of each day:
The Burn-up Chart CA defines as “work delivered (completed) during the release – to proactively anticipate whether the release scope will be delivered”. The black line shows total work planned.
There are also burn-up and burndown charts by Story, Iteration Scope, and Release.
BLAH: Do new items added during each day get highlighted in the Chart? Not in CA.
CA’s Defect Repair Work board (by Team) has these statuses:
ANALOGY: “Points” within the context of one Agile team or project are like airline points. Points for one airline don’t have the same value with another airline.
CA’s Velocity Chart displays the baseline estimate of how many points planned for each iteration within a release:
CA does not project into the future.
QUESTION: Why is “Not Accepted” included in an iteration bar?
PROTIP: The hierarchy of levels (Team, Program, Value Stream, and Portfolio):
Portfolio Backlog (within the largest of businesses) of Business and Enabler Epics in the Portfolio Kanban addressing Strategic Themes connected to the Enterprise Business Strategy.
Value Stream Backlog (for larger organizations)
Program Backlog containing features and capabilities.
Team Backlog contain tasks.
QUIZ: Is there a Product Backlog with User Stories?
QUIZ: Are Tasks a backlog item?
The top level labeled “Economic” for organizations over a 100 people.
Blocked status shows up in CA Agile Central Pie Charts but not in the Cumulative chart.
The different hierarchies can be confusing.
CA’s Track menu, where many use within CA Agile Central, has a hierachy of status by Iteration, Team, Release, and Work Product:
CA’s Iteration status board has these statuses:
- P = In-Progress
The above statuses also appear as individual icons in Test Case status views for each Release.
However, where does one go in CA Agile Central to see the Roadmap status illustrated by this conceptual Venn diagram from a CA tutorial, which shows each Day within a Sprint within a Release within a Product Roadmap within a Product Vision:
Alternately, this conceptual hierarchy shows Tasks within one-week Stories within multi-week Stories (Epics) under a Portfolio feature under a Portfolio initiative:
CA’s Notification Rules can be to these Work Product Types:
Clicking “Quality” in CA’s menu reveals the Test Plan.
I think CA’s menu should say “Testing” instead of “Quality” because Quality encompasses more than just testing.
CA sells a Quality Center module to support regression testing.
Types of tests supported:
Due to the volume of testing data, organizations should access the system via an REST API
CA’s Defect Summary Matrix of status vs. priority for each Release:
From Mark Richards https://t.co/Jrn218N0D5
The Foundation layer include: Lean-Agile Leaders, Communities of Practice, Core Values, Lean-Agile Mindset, and Principles.
Take an economic view
Measure EMV. incremental value delivery. shortest time.
Apply systems thinking (complex interactions)
It’s a systems problem, not a people problem.
Assume variability; preserve options (cone of uncertainty)
- Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles
- Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems
- Visualize and limit WIP, reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths
- Apply cadence (timing), synchronize with cross-domain planning
- Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
- Decentralize decision-making
v4 inserted a Value Train for large enterprises.
Definition of Done (DoD)
Capabilities are split into features to be implemented. Featuresmare split into stories for implementation by teams.
In SAFe, a Systems Team is a specialised team responsible for maintaining the development environment used by Agile development Teams and for end-to-end solutions testing.
PROTIP: SAFe does not address directly how people get bonuses and raises, which can have major impact.
Dashboards for different roles are reached in CA Agile Central’s home icon:
Communities of Practice (CoPs) aka guilds are different than
Centers of Excellence (CoE).
A CoE is group of people with specialized skills and expertise whose job is to provide leadership and purposely disseminate knowledge within organizations. *
A COP is a collection of people who share a craft or profession who have banded together to learn from each other to develop themselves (and the organization).
Even when enlarged to full page,
Deliott’s Agile Landscape is too small to read
It mentions Cynefin for making sense of complexity.
Scaled Agile’s Community Platform
ITMPI.org (IT Metrics and Productivity Institute) by Al Shalloway
- Understanding the Scaled Agile Framework 2014 (ad for longer paid video)
[1:53] “The nature of work is not top down.” Usually no one is managing (measuring) work waiting. Waiting creates extra work, waste.
iZenBridge Consultancy Pvt Ltd
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogb1KT9ek34 Introduction of Scale Agile Framework (SAFe)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXzurBazN-I in 7 minutes
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLBReQXQcvY in 8 slides