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SAFe agile ceremonies – Expert Guide

“Winners take time to relish their work, understanding that scaling the mountain is what makes the view from the highest so exhilarating.” ― Denis Waitley

What are SAFe agile occasions (or) ceremonies? – a quick overview:

Earlier than we leap into the subject, might I simply take you a step again and remind you what SAFe is all about? SAFe is a means of taking any iterative Agile means of working (usually restricted to a workforce or few groups) and scaling it up at varied ranges of the group, while making use of a mindset of Lean manufacturing. It additionally offers with scalability at varied ranges. Starting from Important SAFe proper as much as Full SAFe, the framework caters to all organizational ranges of scaling agility. As a part of this, it broadens the core thought of agility mindset past simply tasks/improvement groups proper as much as executives/CXOs, who should put together for enterprise degree uncertainties. In a way, it gives helpful enterprise degree scaling insights useful for the executives to sort out any uncertainties/dangers related to a venture.

As you begin making use of SAFe in your organisation, it’s important so that you can perceive how every degree works together with the opposite, relying on how mature your SAFe enterprise is. The important thing hyperlink between these ranges is the SAFe particular occasions which assist with clean worth supply facilitation. The occasions assist with alignment throughout groups, ARTs and so forth thus serving to in managing danger by offering a degree based mostly cadence and synchronization.

Essential SAFe

Important SAFe – Your First Degree of Scaling Utilizing an Agile Launch Prepare (ART). Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Supply: Scaled Agile

Why do we want level-based ceremonies?

Whereas you will need to undergo your workforce degree occasions (just like the four dash occasions if you’re doing scrum and so forth.) you will need to have the scaling occasions that assist with bridging gaps and unblocking dependency between groups. Crucial a part of these SAFe particular occasions is for ‘Enterprise Stakeholders’ to get a glance (demo) at a correct incremental product and thus the worth arising out of it. Is sensible? It did for me and let me let you know why.

I used to be as soon as related to Three characteristic groups, who had been working in direction of a typical product purpose. All of them had the identical enterprise stakeholders however had been engaged on particular person options. Workforce A was engaged on creating a Login web page, Workforce B was engaged on a touchdown dashboard whereas Workforce C was hopping alongside, making an attempt to supply a search performance for the consumer. All of them had been making use of the Scrum framework and had been working their very own occasions. Dash demos had been occurring individually and had been being represented by the Product proprietor individually alongside together with his enterprise analysts. All appeared wonderful however there was a nagging downside. The product proprietor was frightened, as a result of he couldn’t carry any enterprise stakeholder to view the demos, as they had been being run in silos and there was no visibility on the incremental product. Effectively technically there was, however they must sit by three or four-hour occasions individually to get bits and items of the product demo. In the true world, it is not a risk just because your enterprise stakeholders is not going to have that a lot time to spend on a number of demos. It’s not use of their time both. So, what’s the answer? Easy, it’s SAFe to the rescue! Let’s try to perceive how the SAFe particular occasions assist with this.

Prescribed PI Cadence for Various Levels of Scaling

Prescribed PI Cadence for Varied Ranges of Scaling. Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Supply: Scaled Agile

How do the occasions (or) ceremonies assist to scale up in response to the degrees in SAFe:

SAFe may be very related and designed to thrive in conditions the place there are important cross purposeful dependencies between agile groups and assist / purposeful groups (infrastructure groups, architect neighborhood and so forth).  

Important Degree:   

As you begin to scale up one degree up, you may be working with wherever between 5-12 agile groups who will all be collectively working in direction of a typical purpose which is this system increment or PI. The anchoring catalyst that brings all of them collectively is your ART (Agile launch prepare). Earlier than entering into the occasions, lets perceive the assorted roles concerned at this degree as a result of that is the frequent denominator throughout all ranges of SAFe and throughout organizations. That is the place you’ll want to get it proper with out which there’s not a lot use in scaling larger. 

Key Roles concerned: 

  • Launch Prepare Engineer (RTE) 
  • System Architect/Engineer 
  • Product Administration   
  • Enterprise House owners

Prescribed events on a typical Agile release train (ART)

Prescribed occasions on a typical Agile launch prepare (ART). Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Supply: Scaled Agile

In keeping with me, PI planning (palms down) is THE most important side of executing this framework. That is the place all of the magic occurs. It’s generally known as the guts of the framework because it gives a transparent imaginative and prescient of what this system increment must be, what the cross-team dependencies are and the way they carry collectively the cultural sustainability a lot wanted throughout the launch trains. It’s so necessary, that if carried out incorrectly it might result in a number of ambiguities, improvement challenges and largely a disastrous product increment. Nonetheless, when it really works nicely, the iterative cycle serves to flesh out the essential parts of the plan and the processes guarantee purchase in from the stakeholders.

Length: A standard PI planning is a 2-day exercise, which is a head to head cultural get collectively of the assorted ART groups. Nonetheless, a brand new Three-day distributed PI planning has been launched to assist with geographically distributed groups (throughout varied time zones), very apt for the present pandemic scenario.

“There isn’t any magic in SAFe® besides possibly for PI Planning”. – The authors of the SAFe framework.

In large organizations with a number of distributed groups throughout a number of distributors, work streams and so forth. it’s nearly not possible to run these groups independently, while nonetheless having to ship an incremental program. SAFe by way of the PI planning train talked about above, helps with checking out these points by recognising cross workforce dependencies upfront, consistently negotiating & visualising them. This doesn’t simply cease with the PI planning however the framework additionally proposes a cadenced means of continuous this by way of the scrum of scrums. The Program Board is a perfect method to showcase the cross-team dependencies.

A sample SAFe Program board

A pattern SAFe Program board. Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Supply: Scaled Agile

1. Examine and Adapt (I&A)

An examine and adapt occasion is scheduled after each PI. This occasion is devoted to aligning to the ideas of Kaizen, which merely means to alter for the higher. The occasions include self induced thought processes to revalidate your assumptions that the whole lot is working OK. The I&A occasion consists of three sub-parts as beneath:  

  • PI System Demo
  • Quantitative and qualitative measurement
  • Retrospective and problem-solving workshop

2. ART Sync 

Agile launch trains are likely to apply cadencesynchronization course of to assist handle the skill to deal with steady worth supply. An ART sync will usually comprise of the beneath sub-events.  

This occasion is for representatives from all of the groups on a launch prepare to return collectively in a daily cadenced method, particularly on massive ARTs. That is usually facilitated by the discharge prepare engineer (RTE) and can contain scrum masters of the person groups and some chosen workforce members (authorised by the workforce). The only goal of the SoS calls are to grasp progress in direction of the frequent purpose, validate cross workforce dependencies and unblock impediments that will come up out of them. 

Length: The size and frequency of the assembly will depend upon just a few elements like the dimensions of the ART, the discharge frequency, kind of options being labored on, skill to decouple releases and so forth. For e.g an ART which releases options into manufacturing each four weeks would possibly wish to have an SoS name each 2 weeks for about an hour. Once more, if this doesn’t give you the results you want, simply examine and adapt to what works nicely on your organizational wants. 

Simply guarantee that the SoS is utilised for its sole goal and never simply standing updates as depicted within the beneath comedian illustration.

Scrum of Scrums

Scrum of Scrums 

This occasion is represented by the Product Proprietor, enterprise analysts and the product administration group. That is used primarily to degree up the product backlog refinement and for clarifying PI (Program Increment) scope, reviewing roadmaps and grooming for the upcoming PIs.

Length: Very comparable in idea to the SoS, so simply observe what works for the group. 

Three. System Demo

As a part of a typical understanding in direction of delivering incremental software program, shortly after every iteration within the PI, there’s a system demo scheduled. Work accomplished throughout all groups from the discharge prepare are compiled in a secure surroundings earlier than it’s reviewed by the enterprise stakeholders and different necessary sponsors who could have a eager curiosity within the product. That is on prime of the person workforce degree demos that occur after every iteration.

Length: Anyplace between 2-Three hours that can permit time for an illustration of this system increment in a collative method, on prime of what has been delivered from the earlier PIs as nicely.

In case your ART is fairly small, then you could wish to have simply have among the occasions mixed right into a extra generic ART sync, the place all roles come collectively to collaborate in direction of this system increment. This could generally happen if the ART is specializing in a specific worth stream, confined to restricted enterprise performance, somewhat than elaborate options.

Answer/Portfolio Ranges

As you scale larger, the processes and occasions change into a lot much less prescriptive. There’s a good cause for this as a result of the main focus at this degree is not only on having repetitive demos which have already occurred earlier than however on constructing thought management round enterprise outcomes and enhancing enterprise agility. Which is why we is not going to be diving deep into that on this weblog. However allow us to have a look at the occasions that happen on the macro degree.

  • Lean Price range Evaluate  
  • Thought Sharing by way of Communities of Follow (not a proper occasion however a collaborative group)
  • Answer Demo
  • Portfolio Sync
  • Roadshow

What are the advantages of SAFe Agile ceremonies?:

Effectively, the extra I speak about this, the extra excited I’m. A PI planning occasion when carried out to its truest goal, will get half the job performed. Right here is the place a lot of the brainstorming happens and enterprise worth will get decided and, in some circumstances, will get assigned in a quantifiable method to consumer tales and helps with the prioritisation.

PI Planning

PI Planning 

  • Synchronisation in direction of a typical purpose

The occasions are a relentless reminder that each one groups are working in direction of delivering incremental worth both on a specific worth stream, or characteristic or program. An RTE and Product Administration will assist reiterating the necessity to deal with the bigger purpose while serving to checking out inter workforce dependencies.

As is the framework itself, SAFe occasions/ceremonies are much less prescriptive. An SPC would suggest, apply the ideas however examine and adapt as to what works on your group. As per the instance I offered earlier w.r.t to the length of the SAFe occasions, begin with one thing cheap after which validate its effectiveness. Then depart Kaizen to do the remainder.

  • Visualization of incremental worth supply

Alternative for Enterprise stakeholders and sponsors to take a look on the total program increment each iteration, thus serving to them consider the progress and supply well timed suggestions on market tendencies. 

What are the frequent errors?

  • Lack of a shared product imaginative and prescient

Issues can go fallacious if there may be not sufficient illustration within the product administration group, say for e.g on the PO Sync occasion. This could result in a blurred product imaginative and prescient with every workforce understanding of sync. This will likely finally get detected too late, in all probability on the time of the system demo, and result in an entire lot of undesirable rework.

The Scrum Of Scrum occasion must be used as an occasion to unblock cross workforce impediments or dependencies and to not simply replace what every workforce has been doing or is doing in its present dash. 

Given the size at which these occasions can be carried out, it’s crucial that the related occasions are facilitated in a timeboxed method or else the individuals might find yourself sitting and speaking for hours. Roles like RTE, SPC Coaches and so forth can be crucial in addressing this situation.

Lack of efficient collaboration instruments might result in some disastrous conditions while facilitating the SAFe occasions. Given that almost all groups are working digital ceremonies/occasions in the intervening time, its essential to ascertain a working distributed mannequin. This can then make sure that the platform is ready up for the best collaboration and cross-functional work to happen.

When you attempt to scale, as per the implementation roadmap, its important that you simply solidify the method round which your ARTs can be functioning. It’s like setting the railway tracks with the right monitor gauge matching the configurations of the wheelsets of the trains that can run on them. If not, they may simply derail. As your ARTs move by your set course of, they may solely profit by sustaining focus and tempo whereas transferring in direction of a profitable incremental product supply.

Thanks on your persistence and want you all the perfect in your Agile journey. In case you need me to put in writing about any particular matter, please be happy to remark beneath and I’ll be very happy so as to add them to my ‘Weblog Backlog’. When you favored the article, please do share it amongst your agile neighborhood to assist unfold the phrase.  

Hope to see you quickly, with extra such attention-grabbing matters.