An Introduction to SAFe 4.0

SAFe 4.0 White PaperThe Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is a proven method for implementing Agile across an enterprise. Many organizations may use Agile for some of their teams, but they don’t know how to scale their implementations without losing the benefits. SAFe enables an organization to efficiently and effectively scale Agile.

DCG Software Value is a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) certified partner, and we've helped a number of organizations successfully use SAFe. Of course, when introducing any new framework or concept, it's easy to get caught up in and confused by the details. We've all been there. 

Luckily, Scaled Agile, Inc., the governing body for the framework, has published a clear overview all about the latest version: "SAFe 4.0 Introduction: Overview of the Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Software and Systems Engineering." 

This white paper provides a high-level overview of the framework, including its values, principles, practices, and strategy for implementation. Here's how it may be of use to you:

  • Learn how to apply SAFe for enterprise-class Lean-Agile software and systems development.
  • Learn the basics of SAFe prior to taking a course (e.g. Implementing SAFe 4.0 with SPC4 certification, Leading SAFe 4.0, etc.).
  • Understand SAFe 4.0 in greater detail, especially for those who haven’t taken a 4.0 SAFe class.

Whether you're currently using SAFe, you plan to use it soon, or you're just curious about what it is, the white paper is worth your time. Check it out and let us know what you think - and if you have any questions!

Download Now

Written by Default at 05:00
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Model Maturity Versus Software Value Delivery

Tony TimbolOur experience in helping organizations implement frameworks and maturity models (TMMi, CMMI) has been nothing short of positive. Maturity models are useful devices to guide understanding for a large, organized group of professionals working together. So, what about using maturity levels within a SAFe implementation? Why? In order to help different release trains (groups of people) be incentivized to improve.

On the surface, this seems reasonable and the intention sincere. However, the maturity level designation is inappropriate for the scaled Agile environment. A maturity level is a static point in time. It is a declaration of compliance or conformity. Conformity is not a core Agile value, adaptability to purpose is, which is about getting work done as fast as possible within immediate, observable timeframes.

Now the intention to provide incentives to improve is commendable. Retrospectives built into the process (within Agile and SAFe) are designed to accomplish that. Immediate impediments are addressed on a short horizon. Enterprise-level obstacles are identified but may take some time to address. Having an appraisal, inspecting artifacts and declaring an achievement of compliance does not add value. Again, in the SAFe environment, maturity level compliance is incongruous.

Incentives, in Agile, can be tied to many things. In SAFe, tying them to value delivered ultimately respects the organizing principle of the Value Stream, elemental to SAFe. Creating and publishing value delivery metrics on a per-release-train basis calls back to factory production lines. Positive peer pressure works. It’s a core principle at the team level and it is scalable.

Designing the right value delivery metrics, that not only incentivize, but also inform the organization as to throughput, capability and potential issues is a worthy internal discussion to have. What do you think?

Tony Timbol
Vice President

Written by Tony Timbol at 05:00
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Download Agile DC Presentations

Agile DC 2015

On October 26th, we had the pleasure of attending the Agile DC conference for the third year. Agile DC brings together an impressive community of Agile practitioners and thought leaders from around the region, for a full day of presentations and networking.

For those in attendance, we were the keynote sponsor, so you probably saw us up on stage prior to the keynote speaker, James Grenning. Following that, we were excited to have 2 speakers at the event, our CEO, Mike Harris, and our VP of Consulting, Tom Cagley.

Both of their presentations are now available for download:

  • What if you need to scale Agile but don’t fit the models? A case study.
  • Budgeting, Estimation, Planning, #NoEstimates, and the Agile Planning Onion – They ALL make sense!

As always, if you have any questions or need more information, just leave a comment below and we'll be sure to get back to you!

Download Now

Written by Default at 05:00
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Are We Ready for Agile – And Are We Following the Money?

Steve KitchingAt a recent conference, one of the overriding themes was that although organisations believe that implementing Agile is a good idea, they are concerned about how they would do it and if they are really ready.

In truth, to implement Agile successfully, the whole organisation has to adjust with the approach and be prepared for the changes it requires.

For example, senior management needs to understand that the objective of Agile isn’t to deliver every software change, but to deliver the most important changes – those with the greatest business value. This requires collaboration between IT and the business. Ultimately, IT must work with the business to follow the money!

You often hear that only the development team is going Agile, but this is inaccurate. There is also a shift in the role of the business owner. Their empowerment to control the backlog is a huge benefit to the organisation. Mishandled, this is the one factor that makes an Agile implementation a failure. Without the business owner, the development team doesn’t have the authority to determine the relative importance of the deliverables or effectively groom the backlog.

Organisations also have to manage their own expectations; during the initial trial, the effort may be very similar to Waterfall as teams adjust to the new processes. Agile is a Lean process; it helps minimise the effect of change, but it isn’t a panacea – you still need the final business vision to drive the development. If it isn’t worth doing for the expected return, then why do it!

Finally, remember that there is still a need for a business process to support Agile. DSDM is a very good framework, which enables the business to reap the benefits of Agile. You may also need to consider how to extend Agile to all of your teams; for that, we suggest the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to control multiple teams working across an implementation.

If the organisation is ready, Agile can be a huge success; if not, unfortunately the finger of blame will be pointed at the process, not the fact the organisation wasn’t prepared to reap the benefits.

As always, we’re here to help. We offer an Agile Readiness Review and a SAFe Readiness Review to help you determine if you’re ready to go Agile.

If you’re looking for help with SAFe, we suggest checking out our Leading SAFe training class, which we’re offering in Edinburgh this October.

Steve Kitching
Software Sizing and Estimation Specialist

Written by Steve Kitching at 05:00
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The Scaled Agile Framework Enables Realistic Enterprise Change

Tony TimbolSteve Denning’s recent Forbes article, “How To Make the Whole Organization Agile,” had some excellent commentary on corporate cultural dynamics and the headwinds produced when change is attempted, especially in the case of Agile.

 On the whole, the article is about how easy it is for Agile to fail because it requires a commitment and a new way of thinking, not just from the Agile teams, but from the entire organization. This is largely because the top levels of an organization care almost entirely about making money – and command-and-control reinforces this belief down the lines of the organization. Agile, however, is about creating value for the customers (increased profits will come as a result).

Denning’s statement about a top-down management approach is spot on. He claims that in this environment, implementing Agile is tricky. When the manager is boss, “adoption of Agile is limited to the team level, [and] it risks being incomplete and dysfunctional, producing little if any improvement for the organization.”

The article then becomes a focus on how to create an Agile environment throughout the organization. Denning is quick to introduce – and dismiss – the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as a solution. So far as we understand his point, this is because he sees SAFe as an attempt to align Agile teams with corporate goals (that is, to make money), which is ultimately not fostering an Agile atmosphere and is not focusing on increased value for the customers.

He asserts that, “In the process of ‘aligning’ Agile teams with corporate goals, such as making quarterly profits and pumping up the stock price, SAFe destroys the very essence of Agile.”

We struggle with this assertion for two reasons: First, SAFe is very much built on lean and Agile principles. Second, the alignment of which Denning speaks is not a sell-out accommodation to existing corporate authority structures. It is a negotiated agreement between management and Agile teams regarding value streams – and yes, that means value to the customer. That very discussion should be a catalyst for basing corporate goals on achievable customer value. This “alignment” between management and the teams is actually what has been missing in most development, resulting in a high rate of project failure.

Denning is right that making Agile work requires change within the entire organization, but we disagree with his belief that SAFe doesn’t meet this need. Indeed, we believe that a deeper understanding of SAFe shows that it facilitates such a change. SAFe is not the only workable way to scale Agile, but it is a realistic one.


Tony Timbol

SAFe Program Consultant

Written by Tony Timbol at 05:00

"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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