Dependencies in SAFe: how Dependency Mapper complements Agile Hive

They say if you’re adopting agile at scale, don’t have dependencies. Whether we want to admit it or not, dependencies are a fact of life, especially in complex, multi-team environments.

This is why Seibert Media have partnered with Quirk, who provide software and consulting to facilitate enterprise-wide agile transformations. We see their app, Dependency Mapper for Jira, as a great complement to Agile Hive, our tool for implementing the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) in your Jira environment.

But how can Dependency Mapper and Agile Hive work together? Seibert’s agile at scale portfolio owner Peter Weingartner recently sat down with Quirk founder and business coach Brad Quirk to find out.


From eliminating dependencies to managing them

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Brad Quirk and his team help customers address mindset shifts, cultural barriers, and organizational dynamics as they scale up their agile practices. This has allowed Quirk to identify a need for additional solutions in the Jira space. They decided to try to fill the gap by developing software like Dependency Mapper. Quirk’s partnership with Seibert is intended to bring Dependency Mapper to all those in need of better dependency management on their journey to agile at scale.

Quirk found that customers were trying to adopt an agile at scale system like SAFe but finding it difficult coordinate teams at such a magnitude, partly because their dependency management was inadequate. “Even though the intent is to eliminate those dependencies early on in the journey, it's a common fact that those dependencies need to be managed and taken care of actively on a day-to-day basis,” says Brad.

Interestingly, Quirk are framework-agnostic when it comes to agile at scale. In other words, Dependency Mapper is a tool for organizations using Jira who are scaling up, but not necessarily with SAFe. Whether they are using SAFe, Scrum at Scale (SaS), Nexus, Enterprise Kanban, or some other system, a dependency is a dependency, and Dependency Mapper is for managing them.

How does the app do that? Brad explains, “In addition to simple visualization of dependencies, we also provide insights as to where the key bottlenecks are for certain teams. So if you have a collection of ten teams that are interfacing with each other, they may or may not be optimized fully. Maybe there are better team configurations that the customer can adopt to improve their way of working going forward.”

Brad goes on to explain that using Dependency Mapper can trigger conversations about how their Jira instance is set up. “[Customers] quickly realize that even their Jira instance itself may not be configured optimally to capture and manage those issue links and dependencies within the tool itself. They may say, hey, we actually need to focus our dependency capture in certain different categories than what Jira provides. But that's all a conversation that they wouldn't have been able to have otherwise without our tools.”

Dependency Mapper makes Agile Hive’s mission even easier

As Peter explained to Brad, Agile Hive helps organizations implement SAFe in an easy way. It includes the ability to identify and visualize dependencies, but is less focused on finding ways to manage them, partly because SAFe wants them eliminated. Peter acknowledges that this doesn’t happen quickly but also that companies using Agile Hive don’t always adopt SAFe fully right away. This is particularly true when they have teams working differently, and not necessarily agilely, across the organization.

This is why Dependency Mapper is a useful complementary tool to Agile Hive. “They can definitely sit side by side and work harmoniously together as two solutions that ultimately serve the same purpose but, like I mentioned before, different focus areas,” Brad explains. “So we go hard on the dependency side, but when it comes to things like roadmapping or other aspects of SAFe that dependency management wouldn't fulfill, then that's where Agile Hive takes over and provides that more end-to-end capability focus.”

Because bad management of dependencies gets in the way of SAFe success, Seibert can now offer customers an even smoother journey to agile at scale by having Dependency Mapper alongside Agile Hive. It helps that Quirk are agile coaches at heart, committed to the fact that agile at scale can only work if you have buy-in, synergy, and understanding from everyone.

Watch the full interview with Peter and Brad below to get more detail about the partnership and how your organization can benefit from it and connect with Peter Weingärtner on LinkedIn.

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