Agility at scale is one of the crucial issues for large organizations, so we interviewed four experts in order to put together an ebook, allowing us to understand the contributions of agility at scale and SAFe. The following article is an extract from this ebook and allows us to understand what does scaled agile mean.
Matching different workflows with common management requirements
Workflows can remain different in detail as long as they involve shared stages that correspond to shared milestones or to project management requirements. The “Definitions of Done” can also be
different at the outset but will gradually have to get closer to one another.
The first action to take is to bring the teams together to agree on a workflow that, as a minimum, allows for consolidation and consistent metrics. The efforts to achieve these goals will need to be clearly displayed and integrated into the team’s workload (an investment that can have an impact on the velocity).
In my experience, teams with the most complex workflows tend to try to maintain these. However, as a minimum, the milestones can be aligned with the workflow of those teams with the simplest one.
This also provides an opportunity to give ownership and a role to the PMOs.
Prioritizing the harmonization of workflows to simplify the pace of all teams
As I said earlier, different workflows are generally an indication of different practices and ways of working. These are
the things we need to focus our attention on and see whether or not they are impacting on the degree of consolidation at a higher level.
From my point of view, workflows at the team level can be different and, indeed, we can even have teams using Kanban in a scaled context. However, if we’re in a situation involving multiple Trains, multiple solutions, and portfolios, all with a lot of dependencies, it seems important to harmonize workflows so as not to complicate the view and timing of the overall project (in terms of Kanban and backlogs at the Portfolio, Solution, and Program levels).
Leveraging the synchronization of cross-functional teams
In an industrial context involving multiple business units (even if the activities are purely software-focused), workflows will always be different (unless the workflow is so generic that it doesn’t mean that much in the day-to-day work done by the teams).
Our experience shows the importance of having team synchronization points. And such synchronization must, of course, not only be synced to the specifications and deliverables, but has to continue for the entire life cycle of the teams involved.
An approach like the SAFe Train is interesting because it forces a synchronous rhythm between different teams.