Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) 4.0 clarifies many aspects of the framework that have been evolving since its inception. It also adds explicit support for the development of very large systems. Even so, you may still be finding your SAFe transformation a little more challenging than you expected.
Here’s how VersionOne can help with your SAFe 4.0 implementation:
3- and 4-Level SAFe
SAFe 4.0 introduces an optional fourth level to explicitly represent the Value Stream. The 4-level model is intended for large systems that realize customer value via the aggregation of features from multiple release trains into a solution.
VersionOne’s n-tier Project Tree enables you to easily create as many organizational tiers as needed. So whether you have a 3-level or 4-level SAFe implementation, or a combination of both models within the same enterprise, it’s just a matter of configuring the Project Tree.
Enterprise Kanban Systems
Multi-level Kanban is an important addition in SAFe 4.0. By having Kanbans at the Portfolio, Value Stream, and Program levels, Epics, Capabilities, and Features can all be visualized and managed for flow and economic benefit.
VersionOne has provided multi-level Kanbans for quite some time. Kanban Boards are configurable as appropriate at each level. By using Kanban boards, you configure your workflows, establish WIP limits to assure flow, provide real-time visibility for work in process, and drill into the underlying details as needed.
SAFe 4.0 also recognizes Kanban at the team level. By using TeamRoom™, VersionOne makes it easy for Kanban teams and iterative teams to coexist and collaborate within the same program.
Capabilities & Enablers
SAFe 4.0 has introduced two new portfolio item types: Capabilities and Enablers. Capabilities are aggregations of Features, and are the means by which solutions are delivered to customers at the Value Stream level. In VersionOne, a Capability is simply a Portfolio Item type. Configuring a Portfolio Item type is easy, and includes the ability to distinguish one type from another by color.
Enablers are technical undertakings that support Stories, Features, Capabilities, and Epics. Enablers may be found at all levels, so you might have Enabler Epics, Enabler Capabilities, Enabler Features, and Enabler Stories. Each of these can be configured as a Portfolio Item type or Story type. Some organizations prefer to keep their type lists as lean as possible, and opt to use a custom field to designate a Portfolio Item or Story an as Enabler. Either way will work.
Communities of Practice
SAFe 4.0 refers to Communities of Practice as “informational working groups designed specifically for efficient knowledge sharing and exploration across teams and groups of professions”. The idea is that as people become distributed across different teams and value streams, there needs to be a way to keep them connected. If “Communities of Practice” is too formal for your liking, Spotify’s “Chapters” and “Guilds” are different ways of expressing the same thing.
VersionOne Communities support your Communities of Practice by allowing people to communicate and collaborate on shared knowledge and “better practices” within the VersionOne platform.
Communities may also be used by your organization’s Agile Center of Excellence (or similar) to communicate guidance that applies across Teams, Programs, Value Streams, or Portfolios.
Although not new with SAFe 4.0, Strategic Themes are a key factor to succeeding with SAFe – especially with very large systems. That’s because they are the high-level enterprise business objectives that guide and constrain portfolio-level investment.
Once you’ve created your Strategic Themes in VersionOne, you can identify and group your Epics by Strategic Theme. Then, using VersionOne Budgets, you can make specific capacity, currency, or percentage allocations to your Strategic Themes, and then track progress against those allocations.
SAFe 4.0 advocates the allocation of budgets to Value Streams. VersionOne Budgets allow you to do just that. Budgeting can be allocated in terms of specific quantities of capacity or currency, or in terms of a percentage of the total. As work progresses, visualizations allow you to easily compare actuals to your planned budget.
As mentioned earlier, Budgets may also be allocated by Strategic Theme.
VersionOne also enables you to distinguish between work related to capital and operational expenses at any level that you need to track them. This facilitates CapEx and OpEx reporting.
VersionOne facilitates building quality in via its native Acceptance Test and Regression Testing capabilities, as well as its support for a wide selection of TDD, BDD, and ATDD tools.
SAFe 4.0 emphasizes agility and coordination throughout the enterprise. To enable the effective flow of value, software delivery and deployment processes must be tightly integrated across Teams, Programs, and Value Streams. In addition, as release batches become smaller, release velocity increases, and Value Streams become more complex, the ability to easily track and automate the flow of value all the way through production deployment becomes increasingly crucial.
More than simply DevOps automation, VersionOne Continuum™ is an enterprise-scale continuous delivery solution for orchestrating and visualizing the flow of change throughout the software delivery cycle. For an in-depth look at VersionOne Continuum, take a look here.
VersionOne is a Scaled Agile, Inc. Gold Certified Partner in both the Agile Tooling and Services categories. In addition to extensive support for SAFe 4.0, VersionOne’s Services team delivers training and consulting services through certified SAFe Program Consultants to help organizations implement and succeed with agile and the SAFe framework.
Continuum is a trademark of VersionOne Inc. Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.