Change can be a scary thing - changing jobs, a change in relationship, a change in your favorite team’s roster. There are a myriad of emotions that we can struggle with when change is brought upon us, especially when it’s not necessarily by our own choices.
In a 2017 Inc.com article by Scott Mautz titled, “Science Says This Is Why You Fear Change (and What To Do About It)”, the following observation was offered;
“We like that which has been around for a while. That's the obvious reason why we don't like change. But it runs deeper than that. We also fear the new because of the uncertainty it brings. As popular podcaster Tim Ferriss says, people would rather be unhappy than uncertain. Neuroscience research teaches us that uncertainty registers in our brain much like an error does. It needs to be corrected before we can feel comfortable again, so we'd rather not have that hanging out there if we can avoid it.”
Organizations - individual employees and the aggregate of the organization itself - are no exception. Specifically, let’s consider the transition an organization faces with the decision to implement Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®).
SAFe®: What It Is and Why
The first version of SAFe® was released in 2011. With the evolution and maintenance of a “team-centric environment” at its core, 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 are to be and as a result, the client has a clear set of expectations to be returned. It allows each organization its own unique implementation and configuration of the combined benefits of Agile, Lean, and DevOps frameworks.
Many companies struggle to implement SAFe® for a variety of reasons; leadership and staff are unwilling to transform existing behaviors and practices, concerns that SAFe® cannot be tailored and configured to their specific needs (hint: it can), misunderstanding of Epics (we’ll discuss this further along in the article), perceived lack of guidance or support. There are other examples for certain, each situation unique, however these touch on some common ones.
More than 1,000,000 users across 20,000 organizations have embraced SAFe® and made it the #1 framework of choice for implementing Agile. The present-day version of SAFe® is built around the Seven Core Competencies;
- Lean-Agile Leadership
- Team and Technical Agility
- Agile Product Delivery
- Enterprise Solution Delivery
- Lean Portfolio Management
- Organizational Agility
- Continuous Learning Culture
Properly planned, SAFe® allows each organization its own unique implementation and configuration of the combined benefits of Agile, Lean, and DevOps frameworks. Sounds like a win-win, nothing to lose decision right? It can be if it’s implemented properly. You’ll be happy to know there are a myriad of large and medium-sized companies, all over the globe and across almost all industries, that have made SAFe® their standard. Perhaps you’ve heard of a few; FedEx, Chevron, Nokia Software, American Express, Allianz, TV Globo, MetLife, Lockheed Martin, and Bosch.
The Struggle Is Real
We guess your first “baby steps” weren’t taken by yourself. You needed someone to be there to support you, guide you, and catch you when you fell.
The process of successfully transitioning to, and then properly implementing SAFe® within your organization can resemble such a life-changing event from all our early years. Virtual guide rails and hand-holding can be of immense value, dramatically increasing the probability it’s done correctly, all but ensuring complete success. To that end, Agile Hive is here to help!
For starters, the good folks at Seibert Media, creators of Agile Hive, partnered with KEGON AG, one of the leading international SAFe® experts, in the creation and ongoing development of the app. This collaboration guarantees a clean technical implementation by our Atlassian experienced development teams on the one hand and a correct technical integration, on the other hand, taking into account the further development of SAFe®.
A prime example of how this partnership can work to your advantage right from the start is the “Method and Tool Assessment”.
- Why - Your organization is developing solutions at a scale that requires the use of multiple and interdependent teams. To enable them to continue to operate effectively and quickly in the market, you want to deploy a scaled, Agile way of working with a suitable tool. Due to previous questions or doubts, you are unsure what this transformation could look like.
- What - Together, we'll figure out exactly where you are on your journey, what your fundamental challenges are, and what paths are open for you to continue to successfully and effectively scale your agile way of working.
- How - In a one-day workshop, two consultants advise you on your scaling method (KEGON) and your Jira/Atlassian-based tooling (Seibert Media). We take an open-minded approach to your individual situation and advise you based on our individual technical knowledge, while at the same time from a single source.
Seibert Media and KEGON will fully assess both your organization’s current place in the transformation, such as steps taken thus far, tools currently used, challenges identified, etc., as well as your goals and final destination. The assessment is a top-to-bottom review and plan of action;
- Which frameworks are an option?
- Which individualizations appear to be target-aimed?
- Which people will need to be involved and trained in what way?
- How can methods and tools interact ideally?
- Which software adaptations and/or enhancements seem helpful?
- When and how can they be introduced?
A Closer Look At Agile Hive
Agile Hive offers you the ability to continue to use the tools you already know while also implementing SAFe®. Your organization can adhere to the framework, as well as capture and benefit from processes your teams have previously made within Jira and Confluence.
When your teams have successfully worked within your Jira instance so far and want to extend and improve this basis, you can seamlessly integrate Agile Hive into your existing Jira. If you want, you can also automate your documentation within Confluence. You can access the existing automated reports easily through intuitive menus. This way, your team members can keep working in a familiar environment with the tools they're used to and benefit from practical Agile Hive features. Intuitive menus let you access your existing Jira projects and add filters for individual Reports based on JQL. As work continues and you’re seeking confirmation that all is proceeding as needed, reports provide an easy and efficient overview of each team’s progress. Agile Hive provides managers the ability to view open or currently worked issues and quickly check if there are any open Risks and Dependencies, as well as which ones have already been resolved, with various boards and reports.
Program Increment (PI) planning must be in place to truly implement and practice SAFe®. These face-to-face events serve as the agile basis for every Agile Release Train (ART), aligning teams on the vision and goals and the steps to get there. Agile Hive provides the platform for either in-person or remote PI planning. The automated Program Board provides a visual representation of all dependencies impacting Feature delivery, while the ART report includes the status of Features, PI Objectives, and Risks. With Agile Hive, you’ll now have the tools to create, manage & visualize PIs, iterations, work items, Team Capacities, and (external) Dependencies.
The thing with Epics
While Jira is the leading agile software development tool, regarding a complete implementation of SAFe®, it comes with many limitations, since scaling then becomes necessary. On this topic, let’s turn our attention to the previously mentioned misunderstanding of epics.
The "Jira Standard Epics" known from Jira don't really have anything to do with "Portfolio Epics" in SAFe. The former is technically a special task type that is primarily used to group stories thematically at the team level. The latter are large corporate initiatives that cannot be implemented within a PI and are broken down into smaller work items, Capabilities, or Features, and hence implemented iteratively.
These initiatives in a scaled agile environment are most comparable to projects in a classic PPM approach - and yet are as fundamentally different as Agile and Waterfall themselves.
You see: many misunderstandings result in an incorrect interpretation of the term. As soon as things are clear here, the reservations often vanish into thin air.
Agile Hive offers hierarchical views of all artifacts - Portfolio Epics, Capabilities, Features, and Stories, as well as Enablers on all levels. This allows users to drill down from one layer to another, all the while keeping track of which teams are responsible for which artifacts. This can become more sophisticated or less, depending upon which SAFe® configuration has been implemented.
The best journeys are taken together. Let us accompany you on your SAFe journey, every step of the way
We know that a SAFe® implementation can seem daunting, but with the right tools and the right partner, it doesn't have to be. Whether you're about to take your first steps or are ready to scale up, we will be there to help you evaluate and guide you through the process. With KEGON - Germany's leading SAFe partner & SAFe first mover in Europe - we will use our expertise in Agile Hive, Jira, and Jira Align to help you find the right methods and tools to fit your needs wherever you are on your SAFe journey.