This is the third blog in the DevOps – Scaled Agile series. In the previous blogs, we discussed the characteristics of a successful enterprise agile transformation and provided specific guidance on applying lean and agile practices at an enterprise level. We covered the “why” and a bit of the “how” at a high level, making the case for the need to address all aspects of a scaled agile transformation –people, process, and tools – to achieve success.
By now you should be asking “where’s the beef?!” You get it… now you want to do it. Great! Because we have tooling that can help. Yes, tools are just one aspect of the transformation to a continuous delivery model, but man, wouldn’t it be nice to have tools that just support enterprise scaled agile methodology out of the box so you don’t have to think about that part and get on with the hard stuff – like the cultural aspects of this transformation?
The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) provides the “rules” for scaling lean and agile across the enterprise; the tools support those rules to get you up and running quickly.
Let’s start by breaking down the organizational structure: SAFe v3.0 describes a methodology for scaling agile and lean across three organizational layers:
- Portfolio: Where investment decisions are made. This is the heart of economic planning, where programs are aligned with the enterprise strategy. There may be multiple portfolios in an enterprise, even within a line-of-business. The decision hinges on strategy and funding; a Portfolio has its own strategy and its own bucket of money.
- Program: Where funding and strategy meet planning and execution. The Program has the resources allocated to deliver on the strategy. Programs are long-lived and require a persistent structure and mission, so they are not exactly equivalent to business-driven “projects”, which might typically have start and end dates. That said, Programs deliver capabilities in support of “projects” through their contribution to Portfolio Epics. And we will discuss more on this later.
- Team: Where the real work gets done! Teams are solely responsible for defining, building and testing their own user stories that contribute to value delivery for a Program. They are independent and self-governing, but they do operate in lock-step with other teams to deliver software aligned with the Program vision and the Portfolio strategy.
With me so far? The tooling that supports SAFe encapsulates this organizational structure, giving you places to capture things like budget, strategy and roadmaps at a Portfolio level along with the “change” artifacts – the work items that identify what will be delivered by the Programs and how it will be delivered by the Teams. By providing a system to hold the data, we can also then provide visibility into status and health of executing Programs and the means to report on trends to demonstrate measured improvement – or not! – as your transformation evolves.
Let’s explore the tooling bottom up, as that is typically how most organizations get started with SAFe.
SAFe Program/ Teams
SAFe Programs and Teams are supported in IBM Rational Team Concert. A process template is provided that you can use to create a Program project area with Teams as team areas within the Program. Alternative topologies, such as Teams in their own project areas or even using third-party tooling, can also be supported.
The process template provides:
- Project Area Initialization
- Work Items & Attributes
- Plans (Roadmap, Kanban, WSJF Ranked List)
- Process Guidance
Everything you need to quickly initiate a new program and kick off program increment planning, is available and ready for your team to get started.
In the next release of the Rational Collaborative Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution, IBM will provide support for the SAFe Portfolio, rounding out our SAFe V3.0 support. As with the Program process template, the CLM Lifecycle Project Area template will provide a Portfolio tooling infrastructure that joins change management with requirements and quality management to fully support the execution of the Portfolio. Through a set of template, we provide you with:
- Portfolio Artifacts & Attributes
- Plans (Roadmap, Kanban)
- Process Guidance
As a starting point, the Portfolio includes a set of Programs as team areas, allowing you to easily identify the resources involved in each Program.
SAFe Key Concepts
In the last blog, we discussed three key SAFe concepts that we believe are required to achieve success: Kanban, WSJF for relative ranking, and PI Objective to capture and assess value delivery. Each of these concepts is supported by the tooling.
At both the Portfolio and Program levels, the tooling provides a Kanban plan view to enable your team to drive relative ranking and prioritization discussions based on the Kanban System.
To help your Program drive backlog planning, the WSJF Ranked List view is provided with the capability to actively lead a planning session making changes in-line to create a ranked list of Features.
The PI Objective is a work item artifact provided by the Program process template, allowing you to capture planned and actual value delivery consistent with SAFe guidelines. In the next release, we will also provide a new calculated attribute that captures the percentage of value (actual / planned) so that we can provide trending reports that demonstrate the Program’s ability to deliver value over time.
Stay tuned for more with the next few blogs in the series coming soon. Till then do read the last 2 blogs if you missed them earlier – Scaling Lean and Agile for the enterprise: All hands on keyboard!!! and Steer SAFely – Driving collaboration across multi-disciplinary teams.
Also, learn from the experts here:
- Telstra Corporation expands services with agile development and IBM Rational tools
- Google Hangout: SAFe and DevOps Adoption
To learn more about our ongoing SAFe support, visit the SAFe Landing Page: http://ibm.biz/safesupport. We look forward to your feedback! And please join IBM at AgileDC, October 26, 2015, Washington D.C. Submit a proposal through August 15, 2015. URL: http://agiledc.org/2015-call-for-proposals/
About the Author/ Amy Silberbauer
Amy is a Solution Architect charged with the definition and delivery of the Enterprise Scaled Agile and IBM DevOps Plan solutions and strategy for the IBM Systems – Application Platform line of business. She is a recognized subject matter expert on scaled agile and software development lifecycle solutions, including enterprise modernization, SOA and collaborative DevOps. She has been with IBM for 28 years and has two decades of software development experience as an engineer, architect and manager. She is a certified SAFe® Program Consultant experienced in leading and consulting on multiple internal and external SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework®) transformations.
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