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. Richard Knaster of Scaled Agile Inc, author, fellow and principle contributor to SAFe, will co-present two of the sessions. If these topics are of interest to you and you would like some help in addressing them at your company, please contact Al at alshall@netobjectives.com.

Outline of the Webinar Series


1. Going Beyond SAFe Essentials - The Rationale of SAFe®. Recording/Slides/Resources This talk discusses what must be attended to in order to transform to Agile at scale successfully as well as how SAFe attends to these issues. Agile at the team level is quite different from Agile at the program or higher levels. Forming effective Agile teams solves a different set of problems than those required to have teams work together effectively. This is why many companies who start with team-level Agile often do not achieve the results they were looking for. Program and portfolio level issues require more than effective Agile teams. This talk addresses the four key issues of effective Agile adoption at scale:

  • A program backlog that contains the most valuable and right sized items to work on
  • Properly organized programs working in a cooperative fashion
  • High quality code that can be efficiently changed
  • The role of management

If your organization is starting at the program level with Essential SAFe, this talk will provide insights into how programs can better work together. If your organization has already adopted SAFe at either the program or portfolio level, this talk will provide insights into how to tune it for your organization to achieve even greater results.

2. The Importance of Right-Sized Epics. Recording/Slides/Resources This might better be called, "How to achieve more value through the proper selection of the work to be done." 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. Blending Kanban and Scrum Or What to do When Neither Kanban or Scrum Is Optimal. Recording/Slides/Resources 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.

4. Built-In Quality with Test-First. Recording/Slides/Resources Test-First is a core practice of SAFe. Unfortunately, few programs apply it to the extent they should because it looks like a huge investment in order to get a return. Test-First is often thought of as a combination of Acceptance Test-Driven Development providing functional tests and Test-Driven Development providing unit tests. However, the purpose of ATDD and TDD is not primarily testing, but rather:

  • improved understanding and clarification of requirements
  • facilitating alignment on the relative importance of our requirements
  • creating better designs and code
  • facilitating automation of our tests

The mechanics of Test-First are:

  • achieving a better understanding of what is needed
  • creating testable specifications
  • implementing these as tests

By considering both the true purpose of Test First as well as its processes, this talk also provides how staged adoption of Test First is possible, thereby enabling quick returns for relatively low investment

This webinar will be presented jointly with Richard Knaster of Scaled Agile Inc.

5. Configuring and Fine-Tuning Agile Release Trains. Recording/Slides/Resources 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. Managing Value Streams that Cut Across Multiple Programs. Recording/Slides/Resources 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. Leadership and Management in SAFe®. Recording/Slides/Resources 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 leadership and management and how they create the environment within which teams can work autonomously and efficiently to manifest the strategy of the organization.

8Architecture in SAFe®Register 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.

Each webinar earns 1 PDU.

All the Details

Apr. 11, 2017 12:00pm PDT to Jul. 17, 2017 1:00pm PDT
Cost: Free
Questions or problems with registration or directions? Contact Mike Shalloway for assistance.
Presented By:
Net Objectives
PDUs: 8 PDUs

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