Introduction to the Scaled Agile Framework

Introduction to the Scaled Agile Framework

Scaled Agile framework
Posted by Benjamin Hermitte, on Wednesday 14 February 2024

Do you find it difficult to manage large-scale projects in your organisation? Do you find it difficult to maintain communication and collaboration between teams? If so, you could benefit greatly from adopting the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

In this article we introduce you to the Scaled Agile Framework and its key elements. We’ll look at how SAFe can help your organisation improve its project management capabilities and achieve better results. Whether you are a project manager or a team member, understanding SAFe will help you contribute to the success of your organisation. So, let’s dive into the world of SAFe and discover how it can help you develop your agile practices.

What is the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a framework. It supports companies in the deployment of the agile approach on a large scale.

SAFe is the solution for effectively coordinating multiple project teams working on the same product or service. To that end, the framework includes guidelines for organizing collaborative teams, planning agile projects, and aligning all stakeholders with the goals.

In addition, SAFe remains a flexible framework. Therefore, it can be adapted to different issues and unforeseen events that may occur during the project.

The benefits of the Scaled Agile Framework

The application of the agile methodology and SAFe in particular allows you to benefit from numerous and very concrete advantages for your company.

Better project management

By coordinating teams and providing a structured framework that combines agility and performance, the SAFe agile model facilitates project management. A project manager can make better use of available resources and satisfy both customers and employees.

Facilitated collaboration between teams.

With SAFe, teams work in a coordinated manner without any difficulty. They benefit from fluid communication tools and an agile environment conducive to exchange. This allows information to be shared quickly between the various stakeholders.

Increased product quality

This framework is an approach focused on the quality of the final product. All the features of agile development contribute to the improvement of the product or service: continuous integration, iterative design, and continuous delivery.

Improved customer satisfaction

Delivering the project on time and involving the customer throughout the development phases improves customer satisfaction. The product or service meets the customer’s needs perfectly, as communication is uninterrupted, and feedback is constantly taken into account.

Increased productivity and efficiency

The involvement of employees and the acceleration of deliveries are ideal for observing significant productivity gains. In addition, work is more efficient because the delivered product meets the customer’s requirements, as the customer himself is a key player in its development.

The different levels of the Scaled Agile Framework

A Scaled Agile Framework organisation is based on four levels. Each level has its own responsibilities and defined objectives. The success of the SAFe agile process requires a perfect coordination and respect of these levels of organisation.

  • The basic level or Agile Team: This concerns the work of the agile team. The objective is to apply agile methods such as Scrum or Kanban.
  • The intermediate level or Program: This level aligns several teams to work together on a common goal.
  • The advanced or large solution level: This is the value chain level. It is essential for large-scale projects and is used to manage workflows and team coordination.
  • Portfolio level: At the portfolio level, the aim is to align the company’s overall strategy with the work carried out at the previous levels.

Key roles in SAFe

To implement agile methods and deploy the Scaled Agile Framework, it is necessary to bring together different talents. Several key roles are essential to the success of SAFe.

Product Owner

The Product Owner is the link between the end customer and the agile team. He defines the product backlog and ensures that the team works on the features that are important to the customer.

Scrum Master

The presence of a Scrum Master, who acts as a coach, is required for the implementation of an agile method. Throughout the agile project management, he guides the product development team. He makes it easier for teams to collaborate and removes roadblocks.

RTE (Release Train Engineer)

This is the person responsible for the coordination between the teams working on a continuous delivery train. His role is important to foster collaborative work and manage project risks and dependencies between tasks.

Chief Architect

One of the key players in the Scaled Agile Framework. He is responsible for the vision and technical direction of the project. In software development, he/she will ensure the quality of engineering practices and provide technical support to the teams.

Business Owner

Complementary to the Chief Architect, the Business Owner is responsible for the business vision. As such, he/she provides the business priorities to the various development teams.

PMP (Project Management Office)

The objective of the PMO is to ensure that projects are aligned with the strategic objectives of the company. For this reason, it is the PMO that manages the project portfolios.

Key practices of the Scaled Agile Framework

To help transform an organisation into a more agile business, SAFe clearly defines certain key practices. These are the practices that will enable you to make a difference and effectively coordinate multiple agile teams simultaneously.

  • The increment schedule (PI Planning): Objectives are defined, and priorities are identified for the coming quarter. This quarterly event brings together teams working on a common project.
  • Agile Release Train (ART): ART brings together a set of practices to coordinate teams and align objectives to ensure consistent delivery.
  • Synchronization between teams: To ensure that teams are perfectly synchronized during SAFe, you must set up demo reviews, retrospective reviews, and planning reviews.
  • Lean-Agile Leadership: In order to guarantee a high level of agility, leadership must rise to the challenges and deploy an agile culture on a large scale. Collaboration, transparency, and innovation must feed into all teams.
  • DevOps and Continuous Delivery: Accelerated delivery and product quality are an integral part of SAFe. To achieve these ambitious goals, it is necessary to use practices such as test automation, configuration management and continuous delivery.

SAFe implementation challenges

While the Scaled Agile Framework is full of opportunities such as faster deliveries, improved product and service quality, and increased customer satisfaction, it also presents many challenges.

Several challenges must be overcome in order to successfully implement SAFe within your organization. The first is aversion to change. If your employees are used to traditional methods, you must gradually transition them to agile methods. Furthermore, it is critical that each collaborator and team collaborate. Communication must be effective and fluid. Finally, we must acknowledge that SAFe is a complex framework. As a result, ensuring a deployment perfectly tailored to your company’s specific issues is difficult.

However, if these challenges are real, companies successfully integrating SAFe will significantly improve their resilience, productivity, and profitability.

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