Why Scaled Agile?
During the 1990s a number of lightweight, iterative methodologies evolved in reaction to the heavily regulated traditional waterfall way of working. These new processes became known as Agile
Agile was originally used in small development houses with small teams with small scope.
As the benefits of Agile became clear, enterprises began to adopt it. However, when applied to large scale development, Agile tended to break down, leading to the belief that Agile development could not work for large organisations.
This notion persists today and leads large enterprises to incorrectly assume that agile cannot work for them. The reality is, they need to scale - this is where we need #agileforgrownups...
Scaled Agile Framework - SAFe
Most organisations now develop their software using Agile at the team level, however traditional waterfall processes persist at the programme and portfolio levels of the enterprise. This creates real challenges when attempting to manage a larger number of teams and suppliers all potentially using subtly different approaches to how they have deployed Agile. Everyone has their own ideas as to what Agile is and without an overarching approach, scaling upwards from even an initially successful Agile implementation can be problematic.
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) addresses the lack of predictability inherent in an Agile approach and allows enterprises to scale Agile across all areas of the business. The primary way it enables this is through PI Planning.
All teams and individuals across the business with an interest in a customer delivered product, from software development to marketing to infrastructure, come all together to align and collaborate during a PI planning event. When everyone is in the same physical location, decision cycles are dramatically shortened, new ideas and perspectives are brought forward, dependencies and risks are flushed out and commitments are made. Conversations that may have taken weeks or months now take place rapidly and by the end of a two day big room event, teams have planned their next 8-12 weeks of work and the business stakeholders have a roadmap of features and set of committed objectives that helps give organisations the predictability they need.
Of course, implementing SAFe and conducting a first big room planning event is no small task and having an experienced SAFe consultant to lend guidance and insight is definitely recommended.