What is Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?
Scaled Agile is a way for large organizations to plan, coordinate, and track work on large and complex projects. The approach is believed to increase productivity across teams and portfolios through accurate and flexible planning and reporting. Focus on alignment, collaboration, and transparency that leads to improved processes and delivery of value is the organizing principle of Scaled Agile. Organizations that use Scaled Agile can course-correct quickly in response to market prerogatives.
A successful exercise of Scaled Agile uses a combination of top-down & bottom-up approaches and requires a significant investment in tools and people. This often leads to a need to adopt a framework that enables an orderly transition toward Scaled Agile.
There are a variety of frameworks that offer guidance for scaling Agile. The leading frameworks are Nexus, Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), and Disciplined Agile (DA).
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is the most popular and most complex framework available and is based on the following fundamentals:
- Regular Scrum of Scrums Meetings for scrum masters to share impediments, dependencies, and integration progress to maintain teams’ alignment with program milestones
- Regular Sync between Product Owners and the Program Manager to stay aligned on functionality, scope, schedule, and team progress
- Single High-Level Program Backlog of features ordered by priority. Teams prioritize the features into stories on their individual backlogs, thus ensuring that dependencies can easily be mapped
- Dependency Identification and Scheduling mitigates the risk of inter-team dependencies derailing the transition to Scaled Agile. Scheduling and sequencing of functionality releases become paramount, allowing for ample time to integrate, iron out bugs, and not delay the dependent teams.
- Common Integration Environment whereby all teams’ work takes place in an integration environment that is kept up-to-date by using continuous integration and deployment tools.
There is a limited number of tools on the market that enable the above-mentioned SAFe fundamentals and more. These tools range from lightweight to highly feature-rich and can be cloud-hosted or on-premise.
ServiceNow is a platform for managing digital workflows for enterprise operations. ServiceNow is SAFe-complaint and combines scrum program boards that offer visibility into dependencies, sprint capacity, and overload and preconfigured Agile dashboards to see trends, statuses, and details of your scrum and SAFe teams’ work. The tool shas a Unified Backlog to help manage all agile work in a single system of record. Agile/scrum planning boards allow product owners and scrum masters to easily plan scrum work with epic information and easily manage stories and all types of tasks easily. Project portfolio management integration and performance analytics assist project managers to build project plans and run complex projects.
#2. Rally Software
Rally Software is an enterprise-level platform designed to scale any company’s agile development practices. The system connects teams, increases collaboration, leverages data, and maximizes productivity by expanding agile practices and aligning processes to critical business objectives. Rally serves as a central hub for teams to collaboratively plan, prioritize and track work that can be visualized in the form of lists, boards or timeline views. The tool provides comprehensive roll-ups of progress, dependencies, alignment and plans—so teams can make decisions and stay focused on delivering value.
SpiraPlan is Inflectra’s agile portfolio and risk management platform that is great for any scaled agile software development methodology – including SAFe®, Nexus, Scrum of Scrums, DAD, and LeSS. SpiraPlan provides robust support for SAFe with its rich library of artifacts and hierarchies that map to both the product and team levels. Each agile release train is managed as a specific SpiraPlan product that is long-lived and contains multiple agile teams, team backlogs, and release trains. SpiraPlan offers visualization and mind mapping features that show how release trains link to product releases and team iterations. SpiraPlan’s robust program and portfolio management module that lets you manage the solution trains, programs, solution backlogs and deliver increments of functionality based on the features, epics and enablers in each constituent product. SpiraPlan integrates with many third-party defect-management systems and source code management systems, and DevOps pipeline tools.
Targetprocess is an Enterprise visual platform which connects Portfolio, Products and Teams. The tool can help any company to adopt and scale agile across the enterprise. Comes with pre-built templates for SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, and other frameworks. The solution is highly customizable to support your own project management approach and organization structure. Targetprocess has a modern user interface and offers visibility into multi-level portfolios and company strategic goals.
Planview’s scaling Agile software enables organizations to scale Agile beyond the teams by providing a solution to plan, coordinate, and collaborate together. Planview helps the Agile team deliver on their strategic objectives through improved workflows and faster release cycles. Planview makes it easy to scale Agile by optimizing processes, and value delivery with LeanKit Enterprise Kanban software. Planview’s Teams of Teams Bundles help visualize, plan, coordinate, and deliver on projects. Planview’s Lean Portfolio Management solution can help change the planning and funding cadences to reflect the changes of the market and/or customers.
VersionOne/Collabnet by Digital.ai provides a centralized environment that simplifies the adoption and implementation of the Scaled Agile Framework. VersionOne supports the key constructs, practices, and metrics defined by SAFe®, including Communities of Practice and DevOps. The tool boasts its capabilities for aligning strategy to execution and for group epics by strategic theme that can be visualized in various contexts to determine if your plans are consistent with your business strategy.The tool’s flexible planning hierarchy makes it easy to use any mix of configurations, from Essential to Full SAFe®.
#7 Atlassian: Confluence+JIRA Software+Easy Agile for JIRA+JIRA Align+BigPicture+Roadmaps
Atlassian offers a combination of tools to allow companies scale their agile delivery. Confluence is used for collaboration on requirements, documentation, decisions, risks, and more. Jira Software is good for scaling Agile with configurations for workflows, fields, and reports. Easy Agile Programs for Jira enables cross-team planning, viewing and management of cross-team dependencies while keeping a focus on larger goals. BigPicture adds capability for roadmapping, visualization, and resource and risk management. Jira Align brings together very large teams and enables teams to roll stories up to the top-level mission, vision, and goals. Here, the built-in dashboards, reports, assessments and retrospective modules allow for greater flexibility in large organizations. Advanced Roadmaps can be used for long-term planning, creation of roadmaps, and keeping stakeholders informed of progress. This combination of customizable Atlassian tools will most likely manage successfully your scaled agile transformation, if you have the time, resources and skill to configure the individuals apps.
Tasktop is a value stream management platform that helps companies accelerate their software delivery. TaskTop’s feature for bi-directional data integration between different platforms makes it easy to synchronize data. Tasktop Integration Hub unifies the software development and delivery team, and provides unprecedented visibility into the business-critical processes of software delivery. Tasktop Viz has a set of dashboards that provide value stream insight and visibility at a glance, enabling users to uncover areas of waste and create plans that target improvement. Viz has features for what-if predictive analytics to enable planners and leaders to experiment with different models. Tasktops Flow Framework® connects Agile and DevOps to the business.
SwiftEASe is a highly configurable visual planning, execution, and collaboration tool for teams that are doing Lean/Agile software development using the Scaled Agile (SAFe®) body of knowledge. SwiftEASe supports all 4 levels of SAFe®. SwiftEASe focuses on visual management, lean execution and ease of use. It links your organization’s strategic themes to the business and architectural Epics and helps track the delivery of both - the high-level Epics and Team Level tasks. SwiftEASe has built in dashboards and provides SAFe® metrics to support IT governance and continuous improvement. SwiftEASe allows business owners and company leaders to track their high-level goals and objectives alongside their ground-level implementation. One of the key outputs of a planning feature is the list of risks. SwiftEASe enables you to track the risks and how they have been addressed.
Clarizen is a cloud-based collaborative work management solution. The only adaptive solution in the market, enterprises can quickly turn ideas into strategies, plans, and actions in order to respond to changing market conditions. Your teams can work the way they want and you'll have real time-visibility into all your work-streams. Keeping everyone engaged and focused so results are delivered faster and company goals & customer expectations are exceeded. Best suited for companies of 50+ employees.
In addition to these tools, the following blogs and articles have some other suggestions and ideas: