SAFe Implementation Roadmap Part 2: Train Lean-Agile Change Agents

SAFe Implementation Roadmap Part 2

We began our SAFe Implementation Roadmap series talking about how to get started and reaching the Tipping Point. In this next installment, we're going to be talking about training Lean-Agile personnel.

Ultimately, organizations can't make the move to SAFe without professional assistance. That means finding trained personnel who understand the basic principles of the lean-agile principle is of primary importance. To do this, an organization either has to choose to train personnel from within or hire consultants to help with the transition. The important part is that there are trained people in the organization before the change starts to take place.

Establish the Team

According to the SAFe website, you must complete three steps to create a strong team who will be in charge of your change to SAFe:

  1. Train Lean-Agile Change Agents as SAFe Program Consultants (SPCs).
  2. Train Executives, Managers, and other leaders.
  3. Charter a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE).

1. Train Lean-Agile Change Agents as SAFe Program Consultants

First and foremost, we need to ensure our change agents are trained. As mentioned above, these change agents can come internally or externally. If they are internal, we strongly suggest that you find a certified SAFe consultancy to train the agents. If they are external, you should consider using the same resource to find certified consultants in a SAFe partner organization. 

In a perfect world, these change agents would come from a variety of departments and business disciplines. As they progress through their SPC training, they would pair with external consultants to capture the expertise required to enact the change. 

The training does not stop here. Enacting any change throughout an organization requires anyone who does the work to learn about the change and how to apply the new methodologies. Therefore, we recommend everyone in the organization become familiar with the SAFe principles. This does not mean that they all need official SAFe training as SPCs, but rather an abbreviated version delivered by the already trained SPCs.

2.Train executives, managers, and other leaders

Another training step that can come before, after, or during the SPCs training is training executives or the organization's leaders. SAFe covers items at the portfolio level. Executive members will need to learn lean principles of management. 

The product of the training, Lean-Agile leadership, puts the organization at an advantage to align with smaller budgets. Leaders must champion the Lean-Agile Mindset as well. This includes thinking lean and embracing agility. If leaders are thinking lean, then they are embracing the pillars of SAFe. This involves supporting the organization to deliver value. Embracing agility also involves leaders following the Agile Manifesto and practicing the agility they are preaching to the organization.

In addition to Lean-Agile leadership, lower-level employees of organizations often look to executive members for advice and leadership. As described in How to Tackle SAFe Resistance in Companies, leaders must lead by example to successfully switch to SAFe. If the executive level understands the principles of SAFe thoroughly, the rest of the team can trust them to assist where necessary and see the benefits of embracing the Lean-Agile mindset.

3. Charter a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence

Last but not least, the organization must create a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE). This is a group of people who are devoted to the implementation of SAFe and the Lean-Agile mindset. Many organizations say they are Agile in name, but when you peel back a few layers, it’s hard to find any agility in practice. We find that the main differentiator in these organizations is having a dedicated team in place.

The most challenging part of establishing this team is finding the right people. While most of the team will likely have full-time responsibilities in your organization already, it is likely that you will need to have a smaller group that is completely committed to driving the change.

So what does this team look like? If you have around one hundred agile practitioners in your organization, then a team of 4-6 people is usually enough. If your organization is closer to two hundred or more, then you should look to have a team of 10-12. Since the LACe should operate similarly to the other agile teams in the organization, they should have the following roles:

  • Scrum Master to facilitate the process
  • C-Level Executive acting as the Product Manager
  • Product Owner to prioritize the team’s work
  • A few other credible people from across other departments

This team has a lot of responsibilities. The SAFe website has outlined the most important responsibilities in the early stages. We’ve picked a few examples out of their list:

  • Communicating the business need, urgency, and vision for the change
  • Developing the implementation plan and managing the transformation backlog
  • Establishing the Metrics
  • Finding the right members for the team in the organization

We recommend visiting the SAFe website page that describes the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence for a comprehensive list.

From there, the team will need to help identify value streams and assist the rest of the organization in the transformation. Once the transformation is complete, the LACE responsibilities involve maintaining continuous improvement. Overall, training your Lean-Agile Change agents and executives is imperative to ensure a smooth transition to SAFe. On top of this, the teams often struggle to truly practice SAFe without the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence or a team 100% dedicated to the cause. 

Don't miss part 3 in this series where we talk about Agile Release Trains and how to identify value streams.

Learn more about SAFe and Agile Hive: SAFe in Jira

If you are curious about learning more about SAFe or the software-supported implementation of SAFe, ask us about Agile Hive!  We would be happy to discuss your requirements for enterprise-wide agile product development and product management with you. Take a look at our Implementation Project documentation to see an overview of what an implementation would entail.

Get in touch with us today, and let us demonstrate how it works in a personal session.

Further Reading

Agile Hive Implementation Project
Scaled Agile: SAFe 5.0 changes and how Agile Hive maps them
SAFe with Atlassian tools: Agile Hive is a Scaled Agile Platform Partner

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