I recently spoke with a Release Train Engineer (RTE) at one of our customers practicing Scaled Agile Framework® SAFe®. Using the steps below he has built trust with business stakeholders and created an environment where everyone is working together to achieve the desired business objectives. Check out these three steps to simplify SAFe Program Status Reporting.
Provide Transparency via Portfolio Kanban Boards
Maintaining alignment to business goals takes constant diligence. This customer has a work flow with well-defined acceptance criteria for both epics and features. After defining their workflow, the RTE set up Portfolio Kanban board at the Epic and Feature Level. The Kanban boards provide a high-level entry point for viewing plans and help structure the conversation. Because of the progressive elaboration that is inherent in an agile process, the Portfolio and Program team spends a lot of their time ensuring alignment between epic and the features. E.g. are all of the features in an epic really necessary to deliver on the acceptance criteria for this epic? In addition, stakeholders can easily view the Portfolio Item Scorecard from the details page to determine progress. Since everyone has access to the information, Portfolio and Program Team meetings have transitioned from the team reviewing status to the team working together to refine the plan.
Create Exception Reporting
With so many different roles across multiple teams coming together to deliver on an epic, ambiguity on who exactly does what can quickly lead to inaccurate data that doesn’t provide the right information to keep stories and features flowing as needed. The RTE built exception reports in Analytics that clarify responsibility. The reports with follow up from the RTE helps teams and individuals identify areas where they need to make data updates that are essential to the overall program visibility.
Perform System Demos as Needed
Although development teams perform sprint demos like clockwork at the end of every sprint, for their release train the benefit of System Demos at the end of every sprint was not worth the costs. Instead Product Owners schedule System Demos for stakeholders when they have a cohesive set of features completed. This approach has increased involvement from the right people for the System Demo. The lack of System Demo each sprint does not mean they don’t take integration seriously! Each week they deploy into a staging environment that is available to both internal stakeholders and their Customer Advisory Board for feedback.
Simplify SAFe with VersionOne
Learn more about how VersionOne supports SAFe’s key constructs, like Strategic Themes, Budgets, connected kanbans, and PI Objectives. VersionOne also provides a PI Planning environment, Program and Solution Planning Board, as well as Roadmaps, TeamRooms, and PlanningRooms.
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