As a user of Atlassian’s Confluence and Jira, these are the tools you already use, in the environment you already know. Agile Hive is the fully integrated SAFe® solution that seamlessly integrates into your existing Jira and optionally automates documentation in Confluence.
This article will explore the role Confluence plays throughout both Agile Hive and Jira, as well as another powerful creative tool that can be included in the mix; Aura. To begin, let’s take a brief look at Agile Hive.
A Quick Revisit - SAFe® & Agile Hive
The first iteration of Scaled Agile Framework® or SAFe® was released in 2011. Its creators, Dean Leffingwell and Drew Jemilo worked to develop a methodology that differed from the project management practices of the day. The focus became transforming organizations and their processes into “lean” practices; “Lean enterprises strive to achieve a state of continuous flow, where new system capabilities move quickly and visibly from concept to cash.”
Developing and maintaining a “team-centric environment” is at the core of SAFe®. Communication and a high level of transparency throughout the organization encourage collaborative efforts which drive productivity, drive down time-to-market, and help ensure a quality solution. SAFe® uses well-documented, specific, and repeatable processes. Agile and lean practices ensure all teams are focused on a common set of goals. Every individual understands what the deliverables should be and as a result, the client has a clear set of expectations to be returned.
Properly planned, SAFe® allows each organization its own unique implementation and configuration of the combined benefits of Agile, Lean, and DevOps frameworks. An organization-wide development process known as the Agile Release Train, or ART, which closely resembles the PDCA methodology (plan-do-check-act or adjust), sets and keeps the wheels in motion throughout the process; define, build, validate, release - repeated as needed.
Agile Hive, a product of the developers at Seibert Media in collaboration with Germany’s leading SAFe® expert KEGON, is the easiest way to implement and fully integrate SAFe® into your Jira environment. Agile Hive ensures your implementation is “SAFe® by the book”, simplifying your SAFe® implementation. It’s easy to use thanks to an intuitive set of features and functionality.
Confluence & Agile Hive - The Dynamic Duo
Although Agile Hive is built within your Jira environment and technically Confluence is optional, it is highly recommended for implementing SAFe® in terms of content, such as Lean Business Cases, Epic Hypothesis Statements, or PI Planning Overviews. There are a number of reasons for integrating Confluence into your Jira instance; the ability to keep all your documentation in one place (e.g. no need to rely on Word or PowerPoint), Confluence is truly a collaborative, real-time environment, and there is transparency for all team members. As such, Confluence plays an essential part for Agile Hive. It not only provides the documentation part of the app but is also used for preparing the PI planning.
For instance, when using Agile Hive, the integrated Autopage plugin automatically creates pages with predefined templates that can be used for working with SAFe®. AutoPage creates, links & updates Confluence pages, page trees, and the page content automatically through Jira. This functionality is mostly used to automize the creation of the 'Epic Hypothesis Statement', the Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) documentation, and the 'Lean Business Case'. Numerous use cases are possible - think of automated Sprint review & retrospective pages or Release documentation.
Given the inherent, strong relationship between Jira and Confluence, Agile Hive automates work when possible, providing valuable references such as templates and checklists, in order to make SAFe® happen without having to jump between websites, more tools, and reference guides.
PI Planning With Agile Hive
Program Increment (PI) planning must be in place to truly implement and practice SAFe®. Traditionally, these face-to-face events serve as the basis for the Agile Release Train (ART), aligning teams on the vision and goals and the steps to get there. As the past two years have demonstrated, sometimes physically collocating dozens or hundreds of employees is just not possible or practical. Agile Hive provides the platform for either traditional or remote PI’s.
There is some real magic that takes place behind the scenes in Agile Hive when supporting your PI, from start to finish, even during the “planning” of your PI Planning. Remote planning within Confluence - spaces, pages and templates are integrated to help support you in the process. Everything from checklists, overviews, calendars, registration management, agendas - all the steps needed to ensure your PI is a success are integrated.
Share the product or service vision, the top features, the roadmap, and the backlog.
For those in the organization not as familiar with SAFe® as their colleagues, also made available in Confluence via Agile Hive are Team Context and Team Breakouts. Help your colleagues help themselves by giving them the tools and documentation necessary to get them up to speed and to feel part of the PI. And as you’ve come to expect with Agile Hive, information is real-time and can be developed collaboratively.
In short, with Agile Hive, you’ll now have the tools to create, manage & visualize PIs, iterations, work items, capacities, and (external) dependencies.
Now, you may have noticed, the pages we've seen in Agile Hive/Confluence are not just simple Confluence pages. To do justice to the large and important ART event, we obviously need Confluence pages that give something more than simple bullet points listings and text paragraphs on a simple page. This is where Aura comes in. Using the Aura app, the entire pages were built and designed.
Aura Has Entered The Room
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention a power companion app, also from the good folks at Seibert Media; Aura. Available for Confluence Cloud, Server, and Data Center, Aura is a suite of formatting macros that can be used hand in hand with your Agile Hive instance to create beautiful, engaging, and visually appealing Confluence content in it.
Easy to integrate, easy to customize, simple to preview and publish. Users can customize everything from the images, titles, descriptions, text alignment. Catch the reader's attention with engaging headers. Segment content with dividers. Present your content in cards or panels and link to content with buttons. Additionally, a new macro, Aura Status, was added to the mix. Statuses and any other properties (like star ratings, t-shirt sizes, values, scores, traffic lights and many more) can be added to your Agile Hive pages that users can change instantly in the page view mode by choosing from predefined options.
Interested In Learning More?
By now, you’ve seen just how powerful and complete a solution Agile Hive is to fully integrate SAFe® into your Jira environment. And you’ve also caught a glimpse as to how Aura can easily and effectively enhance all your Confluence documentation and content creation, including that of Agile Hive.
If you are interested in learning more about Agile Hive or Aura, contact us at Seibert Media. We’d be happy to get you started!