Tuning SAFe® series

SAFe® has been used successfully by many companies in many industries.  Success depends upon properly configuring it to work within your organization. This requires a deep understanding of SAFe as well as experience in implementing it in multiple situations. The series begins with an explanation of the issues that must be managed when transforming to Agile at scale. In later sessions, we explore particular issues in configuring SAFe that go beyond what is provided in standard SAFe courses.

The presenter of all of the series is Al Shalloway, CEO of Net Objectives, former SPCT and contributor to SAFe.  If these topics are of interest to you and you'd like some help in addressing them at your company, please contact Al at alshall@netobjectives.com  We are offering an SPC 4.0 class May 16-19 in Seattle.  Although we don't present these topics directly there, they underly the conversations on the SAFe topics.  Also, Al is happy to discuss these directly at the breaks and before or after class if there is interest.

Outline of the series:


1. Register The Rationale of SAFe®. Before beginning to a transformation to Agile at scale, it is important to understand the issues that must be worked with. Agile at the team level is considerably different than Agile at scale. SAFe is a multifaceted framework that attends to these issues in a holistic manner based on Lean principles. Understanding this approach is essential to properly configuring SAFe. Although there are many facets of SAFe, this talk focuses on the four key elements of any Agile transformation:

  • A central product backlog: How to define it and manage it
  • Teams working together in a coordinated, synchronized manner
  • An agreed upon workflow across a value stream
  • Leadership that creates the context for teams to work autonomously in an effective manner

The key is to work with these in an holistic manner as neither a bottom-up nor top-down approach will be effective.

2. Register The Importance of Right-Sized Epics. One of the key practices of SAFe is a portfolio backlog that limits the number of items hitting the programs. SAFe focuses on sequencing these items based on “Weighted Shortest Job First” (WSJF) which accounts for the size of the work and its value. This encourages having smaller chunks of value in the backlog. Right-sizing epics that are being considered for the program backlog is a key practice of SAFe. This talk discusses why this is so important as well as how to break epics up into right-sized pieces. It presents these practices from a business perspective and illustrates how this perspective can help align the development part of the value stream when an epic cuts across multiple programs in a portfolio.

3. Register Using ATDD For Scoping and Alignment. Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD) is considered by many to be a practice focused on improving quality.  While using it, of course, does achieve this, there is even greater value in using it to be clear on the requirements truly needed and aligning teams that are required to do the work - even when they are in different trains. This reduces the waste of having to build features and then redo them after customer feedback as well as improving the efficiency of teams working together.  But when used as a decomposition process, ATDD also provides both visibility into why stories are important, as well as which stories need to be implemented at the same time.  This webinar discusses ATDD as an essential practice to the scoping, sequencing, decomposition and alignment across teams on our requirements.

4. Register Blending Kanban and Scrum. Respecting people is a foundational element of Agile. People are not interchangeable. It is not always possible to do cross-training or use generalists in order to achieve cross-functional teams. No matter how you cut it, you will always have a few people whose unique skills represent bottlenecks for multiple value streams. This does not fit well into standard Scrum or Kanban models. This talk describes how to blend Scrum and Kanban to provide an effective, efficient, method of optimizing around these constraints so that there is less of an impact to your value delivery.

5. Register Fine-Tuning Agile Release Trains. When first implementing SAFe, the creation of Agile Release Trains (ARTs) can almost never be optimal. This is not a short-coming of SAFe. Until there is a shift to Lean-flow, most organizations do not have sufficient visibility of the work going on to truly see the constraints embedded in the organization. This talk presents some refinements to creating Agile Release Trains that can be used in their initial formation. It then discusses how to continue these improvements after each program increment.

6. Register Managing Value Streams that Cut Across Multiple Programs. SAFe 4.0 introduced the value stream level. This made explicit what was already a reality for many organizations using SAFe. That is, that work flows across different programs and that teams are being directed to do work that comes from more than one business owner. Unfortunately, many people adopting SAFe have somewhat ignored this level. Although managing dependencies discovered in the program increment planning event is a good first cut at solving this problem, this talk discusses how the insights from the earlier sessions can be used to further eliminate delays in workflow – both lowering waste and quickening delivery of business value.

7. Register Architecture in SAFe®. SAFe incorporates the concept of the architectural runway and intentional architecture. Together these provide an approach for looking sufficiently ahead without overbuilding your architecture. The roles of the enterprise and system architects are also mentioned. The critical aspect of Agile architecture is its ability to evolve as requirements are better understood and the organization pivots. This talk describes how architecture needs to be designed to accommodate the unpredicted changes that we know will occur rather than trying to accommodate all variations.

8. Register Leadership in SAFe®. Lean-Leadership is a foundation of SAFe and is based on the belief that middle management is critical. SAFe quotes Deming: A system must be managed. It will not manage itself. Left to themselves, components become selfish, independent profit centers and thus destroy the system. The secret is cooperation between components toward the aim of the organization.

This talk describes the purposes of middle management and how it creates the environment within which teams can work autonomously and efficiently to manifest the strategy of the organization.

All the Details

Apr. 4, 2017 9:00am PDT to Jun. 27, 2017 10:00am PDT
Cost: Free
Questions or problems with registration or directions? Contact Andrea Bain for assistance.
Presented By:
Net Objectives
PDUs: 1 PDU Category B

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