Sunday, October 9, 2022
HomeSoftware EngineeringSAFe Case Research: Transformation Notes From the Subject

SAFe Case Research: Transformation Notes From the Subject

This text is a component three of Toptal’s Agile scaling collection, designed to information undertaking managers of their group enlargement efforts. You should definitely learn half one, “5 Agile Scaling Frameworks In contrast: Which One Ought to You Use?” and half two, “Agile Scaling: SAFe Finest Practices for Scrum Masters.”

Agility is practiced in some style by 94% of firms, in keeping with the fifteenth Annual State of Agile Report. However analysis additionally means that 90% of organizations battle with enterprisewide Agile implementation. Usually, it’s the work of Agile coaches, Scrum masters, and different undertaking administration professionals to guide and set up these efforts. Typically, they’re working with groups or departments which might be resistant to alter, in an organization tradition that’s obscure.

On this roundtable, three Toptal undertaking managers focus on the challenges of main Agile transformations. As a result of their options comport with the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), we additionally spoke with Dean Leffingwell, creator of SAFe. Their collective insights illustrate the necessity for SAFe practitioners to organize a transparent imaginative and prescient of what agility is and a management plan that may carry recalcitrant groups on board.

Speaking SAFe With the Framework’s Creator

SAFe, a framework formalized by Scaled Agile, dates again to solely 2014. However for Leffingwell, the work started when he first encountered Agile groups within the early 2000s. As a software program improvement methodologist, he was impressed with the outcomes of Agile practices on dev groups, and he instantly started exploring how the mindset could possibly be utilized throughout a whole firm. If an Agile group may produce outcomes, what may a group of aligned Agile groups produce? How may Agile practices be used for full-scale transformation tasks at nationwide or worldwide firms? As Leffingwell places it, “I really like software program improvement. I really like Agile. I simply need it huge.”

A bar graph titled
SAFe is probably the most extensively used scaled framework, favored by 37% of respondents within the fifteenth Annual State of Agile Report.

Within the years since, firms have acknowledged the advantages of SAFe, together with shorter deliveries, larger product high quality, larger effectivity, and extra engaged workers. As of 2021, greater than a 3rd of organizations world wide used SAFe, and amongst its most vital elements are the shared processes and unified language that it supplies. For instance, if one group thinks a dash is 2 weeks lengthy and one other thinks it’s 30 days, it creates what Leffingwell describes as a “Tower of Babel drawback.” It’s laborious for groups to debate what options so as to add if they’ll’t even agree on what “function” means. “You [need] individuals working in a typical approach if you wish to construct huge options,” he says. “There’s not a time period in our trade that isn’t overloaded, like ‘iteration’ or ‘dash’ or ‘backlog.’ That’s not useful for those who’re making an attempt to work throughout group and regional boundaries.”

Agile Success Tales

Getting everybody at an organization to undertake a unified approach of talking about and doing work is a frightening job even when there’s an amazing urgency for change. In established companies, it may be tougher. Leffingwell elaborates: “You’re wanting on the largest firms on the planet which might be making a number of cash and doing extremely properly and competing—they usually have to alter. Nicely, the query for them is why ought to they?” The Toptal undertaking managers featured right here every encountered questions like this throughout their very own scaling actions, and every discovered their very own approach of working by way of their Agile transformations utilizing SAFe.

Demonstrating Worth

Alvaro Villena, a Toptal undertaking supervisor in Santiago, Chile, just lately accomplished a SAFe transition for a portfolio creating a cross-business platform. “The primary milestone in my transition was conducting a worth stream workshop,” he says. In easy phrases, a worth stream workshop is a kickoff assembly to determine your entire enterprise course of from idea to supply and all of the steps, customers, methods, and ache factors in between.

Getting representatives from your entire enterprise into the workshop helped Villena perceive the corporate tradition and what his obstacles can be. “Earlier than we carried out the workshop, there was a construction the place one enterprise had their group, one other enterprise had their group, and the subsequent enterprise had their group—the three didn’t discuss to one another.”

Villena discovered that though all of the groups shared related ache factors, there was no collaboration on options. As an illustration, though each enterprise within the portfolio shipped merchandise, just one had developed a monitoring system. There was no purpose they couldn’t all use it, besides that no one had shared the data. As soon as the workshop bought them speaking, data began to movement amongst groups, companies, and product homeowners. “That type of dialog was actually, actually highly effective for this system. It was a pleasant place to begin,” Villena says. When DevOps, design, and product all know what different groups are doing, they see that there are answers within the firm that they are often utilizing. “They begin asking, ‘How can I’ve that?’ And that’s the place you step in and say, ‘Observe this course of.’”

“No one desires change till they know why. So that you begin with a why and provides them a greater future.”Dean Leffingwell, creator of SAFe

Leffingwell is aware of that groups are typically resistant. “No one desires change till they know why,” he tells Toptal. “So that you begin with a why and provides them a greater future.” Giving groups a glimpse of how rather more environment friendly they are often is a strong software for change management.

Even when everyone seems to be enthusiastically on board, it is best to nonetheless count on rocky begins. Groups which might be accustomed to conventional Waterfall improvement and large releases, for instance, could have bother transferring to a extra iterative and agile improvement course of, even when they see the worth in it. “The primary program increment that we did was type of a catastrophe with the groups,” says Villena. “And we knew it will be; we instructed the shopper to count on that the primary three months could also be tough.” To compensate for this, he in-built a one-time weeklong iteration on the finish of the primary program increment (PI) during which the groups may consider their progress. He organized a dash devoted solely to course of enhancements and evaluations that might transcend the standard examine and adapt. He discovered it helpful to use an Agile mindset to not simply the product but additionally the enterprise transition, taking the time to step again, see what labored and what didn’t, and modify accordingly.

Creating Small Victories

It’s vital to be ready for surprising obstacles in your SAFe adoption. Some years in the past, Toptal undertaking supervisor Miroslav Anicin in Belgrade, Serbia, was transitioning a telecommunications firm to SAFe. The corporate had outsourced all of its software program improvement. Incorporating an off-site group wasn’t a very onerous job—the problems concerned have been primarily logistical. However the effort created unexpected challenges in transitioning the corporate itself. “I used to be looking for the competencies we’d like within the launch practice,” he says. “And all the individuals I had to select from have been from advertising, from authorized, from merchandise, from finance—fully missing the Agile mindset and even any expertise in Agile.”

It grew to become evident that administration had no expertise dealing with Agile groups. Distributed decision-making requires managers to relinquish some management, a truth management can balk at in the event that they’re not skilled with Agile frameworks. To unravel for this, Anicin needed to practice from the underside up and from the highest down, teaching leaders together with their groups.

Such a transfer to extra decentralized decision-making requires “altering the way in which of working from command and management, by way of servant-leadership, to this empowering tradition of studying and tradition of Agile—and the power to tolerate errors,” says Leffingwell.

Anicin started the method of scaling incrementally—with small Agile tasks carried out inside single groups, not inside a SAFe framework—so particular person groups may develop some hands-on expertise. These tasks needed to be nonessential and sufficiently small that the corporate wouldn’t be harmed if one thing went incorrect on the primary attempt however helpful sufficient to indicate the group what could possibly be completed with the strategy. As an illustration, the advertising group created an inner advertising marketing campaign, throughout which Anicin taught them the fundamentals of Scrum. Much like Villena’s workshop, these smaller tasks reveal the worth of Agile in actual phrases, so group members and management can see the advantages of quick releases and steady enchancment earlier than the full-scale transition.

Assembly the Wants of Your Groups

When Imane Marouane, a Toptal undertaking supervisor primarily based in Paris, led a change for a big, multinational monetary establishment, she stepped right into a chaotic surroundings the place particular person groups produced stable work however shared no companywide imaginative and prescient. “Every group had their very own precedence. Every product supervisor needed their product to be delivered first.”

SAFe’s answer to this drawback may be discovered within the weighted shortest job first (WSJF) mannequin. WSJF supplies a typical for prioritizing work so when it’s time to resolve what the subsequent job needs to be, step one doesn’t contain disputes over how you can rank significance. In a flow-based Agile system, you don’t have to fret about delivering every little thing without delay as a result of, as Leffingwell says, “crucial factor is what job to do subsequent. And that’s a a lot simpler query to reply than what’s probably the most priceless job.” SAFe supplies a method to resolve dependencies between groups—ordering duties is crucial to this consequence.

An illustration titled,
Scaled Agile’s Weighted Shortest Job First components prioritizes duties by weighing the price of delay in opposition to the issue and length of the work required.

Marouane’s path to dependency decision grew to become unsure: “After two sprints, earlier than the primary examine and adapt, we observed that some groups weren’t following our PI plan.” Dependencies that have been outlined within the PI plan weren’t being adopted, so one group’s work couldn’t start as a result of the contribution from one other group wasn’t prepared.

“Because it was the primary iteration, and the groups weren’t used to this type of work, we determined to place an additional ceremony into place—a weekly assembly to debate progress on dependencies,” Marouane says. “One individual from every group got here to replace progress on their contributions.” This manner, if Workforce A stated they have been unable to ship, Workforce B may know forward of time and plan accordingly, as a substitute of ready for contributions that weren’t going to materialize initially of their dash.

Leffingwell preaches warning when making these sorts of changes to SAFe: “SAFe is a system of obligations. … You may adapt it, however you’ve bought to be actually cautious.” Though the framework is meant to be adaptable, adjustments are likely to get baked in if not reassessed. The Important SAFe configuration exists to guarantee that any alterations meet primary standards.

Marouane’s further ceremony was included once more within the second PI, and by the third it had been phased out. Groups had nothing to report on that hadn’t already been communicated. A bit further flexibility allowed Marouane to get the groups again onto a extra conventional course of observe. She discovered that the transition itself required an Agile mindset to get probably the most out of the monetary establishment’s groups. And importantly, the change she made, by way of its dedication to steady enchancment, finally served the Lean-Agile ideas which might be the groundwork of Important SAFe. Her answer gave the corporate the unified imaginative and prescient it lacked and allowed the groups to work collectively towards the identical priorities.

Adapt for the Future

Any framework working at scale goes to return with challenges. The variety of transferring components and competing pursuits is immense. However the payoffs are equally giant, and a well-executed transition will give groups the instruments they should work towards frequent targets. The obstacles you face in such a large-scale implementation can be unpredictable, and an Agile mindset helped Villena, Anicin, and Marouane adapt to surprising challenges. In spite of everything, that’s what steady supply is for: empowering your course of with the instruments to adapt to the unexpected.

Scaled Agile additionally adapts to new applied sciences and evolving trade requirements, introducing new instruments and capabilities as vital. Everybody wants to remain nimble and put together for the surprising. “We’ve no crystal ball,” says Leffingwell. “We simply run quick, lead laborious, and observe laborious—and write as quick as we are able to.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments