Scaled Agile Framework

Kick start your agile knowledge with advanced Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Till now you have learned agile methodologies and its principles. Now start your agile journey with a freely revealed knowledge base and an integrated pattern for enterprise-scale –Agile developments. This scaled agile framework (SAFe) blog explains the importance of frameworks in large scale business enterprises. What you waiting for, let’s start learning agile framework.

Introduction to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is part of the agile integration method. This provides a freely proven knowledge base and also offers integrated business patterns for large-scale enterprises. It is modular and higher scalable, allows each business organization to insert in a way that offers higher customer satisfaction, better business results, and engaged team members.

Scaled Agile framework adds the proper alignment, business collaboration, and proper time product delivery to the Agile project teams. This framework also collaborates with software solutions and complex cyber network –physical systems, this collaboration requires a large number of employees to create, design, and maintain. The main moto of the Scaled Agile framework is to solve customers' most challenging and complex scaling issues. As I said above Agile framework support for the knowledge base, so it contains three major knowledge base bodies such as Agile development knowledge base, Agile lean scalable product developments, and flow, and Systems-level thinking.

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Overview of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

The scaled Agile framework is mainly developed to solve the customers' complex and challenging scaling issues in large business enterprises. The below figures explains the architecture of the Scaled Agile Framework and its nature of work.

  • This level 4.0 big picture explains the Visual overview of the scaled agile framework. Each icon in the big picture provides navigation and guidance to the customers.
  • The big picture of the Scaled framework has two views.
  • The default three-level view: this provides the solutions to the agile team in a modest way.
  • The four-level view: this view helps the customers to develop building large scale solutions that involve a large number of team members to maintain, construct, and develop.

There are four organizations levels as well as foundation levels;

Team level: the scaled agile framework is based on Agile team members; they are responsible for software-defined, product building, and software testing from their agile backlogs. This agile team can also work on Scrum or Kanban iteration methods, checking of quality practices, and to deliver better product outcome.

Program level: the scaled agile framework teams are worked based on a virtual program called "Agile Release Train". Each Agile Release Train is a long-lived and cross-functional self-organizing team of 10 to 20 agile teams, business stakeholders to plan, design, commit, adapt, and deliver the solution.

Value stream level: this value stream level provides the development of larger business and complex product solutions. This type of stream level needs multiple and synchronized agile release teams as well as a stronger focus on intent product and context of solutions.

Portfolio level: This Agile release team involves in organizing and funding of value streams. The portfolio level provides the software development funding through Lean – agile cost, provides supportive governance and value coordination.

Foundation layer: this foundation layer level holds additional elements that support designing and scaling. The elements may include are lean-agile leaders, agile communities, team core values, lean-agile principles that guide scaled agile framework, and an implementations strategy.

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Foundation layer explanation

The Foundation layer is one of the very important knowledge base layers of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). This layer is considered when there is a critical, necessary, and supportive of software product delivery. This Foundation layer includes the following:

Lean-Agile leaders: this is considered to be responsible for the success of any business enterprises and also users can modify the product while they are working with management. In the end, the scaled agile framework has new leadership executed by lean-agile leaders.

Communities of practices:  In this section, value streams of lean approach will be moved to pivot the functional organizations to produce a more flexible and adaptive business value approach. The scaled agile framework also helps the communities of the project, the internal group of team members and other project experts will collaborate to work together to produce a valuable outcome.

Core Values: there are four major core values of the scaled agile framework that make it effective and valuable. The four core values included are;

  • Alignments
  • Built-in quality
  • Transparency
  • Finally program executions.

Lean-agile mindset: scaled agile framework (SAFe) leaders are lifelong teachers and learners who are well known for lean and agile principles, practices, and core values. To make the framework perform in a better way, all the lean leaders should undergo training and teach them properly. To become a perfect leader or teacher they should have different ways of thinking, building, and operating.

Lean-agile principles: Scaled agile framework should work on nine fundamental principles. I would like to name them,

  • Take an eye on an economic view
  • Apply effective system thinking
  • Assume preserve options and variability
  • Build iteration and incremental in a fast, integrated leaning agile cycles
  • Objectives based on the milestones of the working system
  • Proper visualization and limit of WIP, reduces the team batch size and manages the project queue lengths
  • Applying of cadence synchronizes the cross-domain project planning
  • Decentralization of team decision-making
  • Unlocking of the intrinsic motivations and knowledge workers.

Implementing 1-2-3 levels: based on the scaled agile frameworks implementations, “implementing scaled agile frameworks 1-2-3” patterns for successful iterations of frameworks. The train implementers and lean-agile change agents (SPCs). The consultants can then train all the team executives, managers, and team leaders.

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Team level

The scaled agile frameworks, team level provides the organization, artifact, team role, and process model for the implementation activities in agile teams.

All scaled agile framework teams are the part of agile release train (ART). The scaled agile team is responsible for project defining, designing, and testing the use case stories from their agile team backlog in fixed-length iterations, iteration cadence, and synchronization to assign with other project teams, so this will help to iterate the entire system.

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Both team Scrum and team Kanban, mostly work on built-in quality practices to deliver the project outcome every two weeks. The project demo creates a “pull event “for all the team members to make them work together, designing the integration part, and testing the model phase during the software development lifecycle.

Each team should consist of 5-9 members and train them properly to build a valuable product in each iteration. The team members may be Scrum master, product owner, stakeholders, project contributors, and specialist, they involve in deliver the valuable product.

Program Level

The program level is now considered as the heart of a Scaled agile framework. The following diagram explains the work nature of the program level.

Scaled Agile framework's program level appears in the "Agile Release train". Program level team members' roles and activities to be based on only the incremental and iteration value of the product.

The main fundamental functionalities of Agile release train are the formation of span functional boundaries, elimination of unnecessary steps taken, and acceleration of product delivery values through the implementation of Scaled Lean-agile practices and SAFe's principles.

It is called as a program level in agile release train (ART) because this level of scaled agile framework generally long-lived and offers self-organization, programming structure, and mission than any existing "program level of ART" which has a piece of information like start and end date of the project resource planning. It is known for it's a long-lived, knowledge base, and self-organizing nature of the Agile release train.

Agile release train composed of 5-12 agile team members, they will be responsible for delivering the fully tested agile product, working on iteration, and system-level solutions. Many agile release trains are virtual, spanning, and geographic boundaries.

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The Spanning palette

The spanning palette in the scaled agile frameworks is nothing but special icons located at the conjunction of both program-level and virtual stream levels on the SAFe big picture.

Each of spanning palette in Agile release trains describes the “vision”, “metrics’”, “project milestone”, “Release date”, “Developments”, “Team members”, “Release managements”, “shared software devices”, and “user experience test cases”. These elements also “span” the SAFe’s levels as they are more often used in other levels.

Value stream level

Value stream level is an optional level in Scaled agile frameworks, as they are widely used when the project type is big and largely independent. So this type of level needs thousands of team members and expensive too. Agile release train will operate for three-levels when you have decided to implement a Value stream level.

This type of SAFe level is commonly used in building large scale applications, multiple software, and virtual-cyber systems. Building value stream level applications need additional constructs, team coordination, and software articraft.

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The value stream level is organized and works for program increments like program level. This type of level is helpful for cadence and multiple synchronizations of Agile release trains and suppliers. The value stream level roles that may be included are solution management, solution engineering, system architect, and value level stream, engineers.

Portfolio level

The portfolio level in the scaled agile framework is considered as the highest level and consists of value stream level, people, and processes required to offer funding, financial details, and governance for the products, software services, and product solutions to fulfill the high-level business strategy.

The following diagram explains the nature of the Portfolio level of Scaled agile frameworks:

This is the basic construction for organizing the Lean-level Agile enterprise to flow of valuable data through one or more value level streams. The portfolio level incorporates the elements to provide the basic details on funding and governance related to the project. One interesting thing about the portfolio level is that it will return the necessary budgets to meet the top-level strategic principles.

The portfolio level in SAFe has bidirectional connections to the enterprise's business. One direction of the portfolio guides the larger, complex, and challenging business objectives. The other direction of the portfolio describes the constant value flow to the business enterprises.

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The primary elements of Portfolio level are Value streams which help in funding for the business people and other available resources. Each portfolio value stream elements are long-lives business developments, system definitions, product delivery, and deployments. Whereas program portfolio describes the stakeholders who are responsible to deliver the final product outcomes and also provide financial strength.

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Scaled Agile frameworks are considered as one of the major parts of the Agile software development lifecycle. This Scaled Agile framework is most commonly used in large-scale and complex product developments due to itsunique  knowledge base and Incremental features. This article may help a few of you learn the Agile methodologies in-depth and also for Agile community forums.

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3. Best Agile Certifications

4. Agile resume

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Research Analyst
As a Senior Writer for HKR Trainings, Sai Manikanth has a great understanding of today’s data-driven environment, which includes key aspects such as Business Intelligence and data management. He manages the task of creating great content in the areas of Digital Marketing, Content Management, Project Management & Methodologies, Product Lifecycle Management Tools. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.