SAFe agile ceremonies – Expert Guide

“Winners take time to relish their work, figuring out that scaling the mountain is what makes the view from the highest so exhilarating.” ― Denis Waitley

What are SAFe agile occasions (or) ceremonies? – a short overview:

Earlier than we soar into the subject, may I simply take you a step again and remind you what SAFe is all about? SAFe is a manner of taking any iterative Agile manner of working (usually restricted to a crew or few groups) and scaling it up at numerous ranges of the group, while making use of a mindset of Lean manufacturing. It additionally offers with scalability at numerous ranges. Starting from Important SAFe proper as much as Full SAFe, the framework caters to all organizational ranges of scaling agility. As a part of this, it broadens the core thought of agility mindset past simply initiatives/improvement groups proper as much as executives/CXOs, who should put together for enterprise degree uncertainties. In a way, it gives helpful enterprise degree scaling insights useful for the executives to deal with any uncertainties/dangers related to a venture.

As you begin making use of SAFe in your organisation, it will be important so that you can perceive how every degree works together with the opposite, relying on how mature your SAFe enterprise is. The important thing hyperlink between these ranges is the SAFe particular occasions which assist with clean worth supply facilitation. The occasions assist with alignment throughout groups, ARTs and many others thus serving to in managing danger by offering a degree based mostly cadence and synchronization.

Essential SAFe

Important SAFe – Your First Degree of Scaling Utilizing an Agile Launch Prepare (ART). Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Supply: Scaled Agile

Why do we want level-based ceremonies?

Whereas it is very important undergo your crew degree occasions (just like the four dash occasions in case you are doing scrum and many others.) it is very important have the scaling occasions that assist with bridging gaps and unblocking dependency between groups. A very powerful a part of these SAFe particular occasions is for ‘Enterprise Stakeholders’ to get a glance (demo) at a correct incremental product and thus the worth arising out of it. Is sensible? It did for me and let me inform you why.

I used to be as soon as related to Three characteristic groups, who have been working in direction of a standard product aim. All of them had the identical enterprise stakeholders however have been engaged on particular person options. Staff A was engaged on creating a Login web page, Staff B was engaged on a touchdown dashboard whereas Staff C was hopping alongside, attempting to supply a search performance for the consumer. All of them have been making use of the Scrum framework and have been operating their very own occasions. Dash demos have been taking place individually and have been being represented by the Product proprietor individually alongside together with his enterprise analysts. All appeared tremendous however there was a nagging drawback. The product proprietor was anxious, as a result of he couldn’t convey any enterprise stakeholder to view the demos, as they have been being run in silos and there was no visibility on the incremental product. Nicely technically there was, however they must sit by three or four-hour occasions individually to get bits and items of the product demo. In the true world, it is not a chance just because your small business stakeholders is not going to have that a lot time to spend on a number of demos. It’s not a superb use of their time both. So, what’s the answer? Easy, it’s SAFe to the rescue! Let’s try to perceive how the SAFe particular occasions assist with this.

Prescribed PI Cadence for Various Levels of Scaling

Prescribed PI Cadence for Numerous Ranges of Scaling. Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Supply: Scaled Agile

How do the occasions (or) ceremonies assist to scale up based on the degrees in SAFe:

SAFe could be very related and designed to thrive in conditions the place there are important cross purposeful dependencies between agile groups and help / purposeful groups (infrastructure groups, architect group and many others).  

Important Degree:   

As you begin to scale up one degree up, you’ll be working with anyplace between 5-12 agile groups who will all be collectively working in direction of a standard aim which is this system increment or PI. The anchoring catalyst that brings all of them collectively is your ART (Agile launch practice). Earlier than stepping into the occasions, lets perceive the assorted roles concerned at this degree as a result of that is the widespread denominator throughout all ranges of SAFe and throughout organizations. That is the place it is advisable to get it proper with out which there’s not a lot use in scaling larger. 

Key Roles concerned: 

  • Launch Prepare Engineer (RTE) 
  • System Architect/Engineer 
  • Product Administration   
  • Enterprise House owners

Prescribed events on a typical Agile release train (ART)

Prescribed occasions on a typical Agile launch practice (ART). Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Supply: Scaled Agile

In response to me, PI planning (palms down) is THE most important facet of executing this framework. That is the place all of the magic occurs. It’s generally known as the center of the framework because it gives a transparent imaginative and prescient of what this system increment must be, what the cross-team dependencies are and the way they convey collectively the cultural sustainability a lot wanted throughout the launch trains. It’s so vital, that if carried out incorrectly it may result in a number of ambiguities, improvement challenges and principally a disastrous product increment. Nevertheless, when it really works properly, the iterative cycle serves to flesh out the essential parts of the plan and the processes guarantee purchase in from the stakeholders.

Period: A standard PI planning is a 2-day exercise, which is a head to head cultural get collectively of the assorted ART groups. Nevertheless, a brand new Three-day distributed PI planning has been launched to assist with geographically distributed groups (throughout numerous time zones), very apt for the present pandemic state of affairs.

“There isn’t a magic in SAFe® besides perhaps for PI Planning”. – The authors of the SAFe framework.

In huge organizations with a number of distributed groups throughout a number of distributors, work streams and many others. it’s virtually not possible to run these groups independently, while nonetheless having to ship an incremental program. SAFe through the PI planning train talked about above, helps with finding out these points by recognising cross crew dependencies upfront, continuously negotiating & visualising them. This doesn’t simply cease with the PI planning however the framework additionally proposes a cadenced manner of continuous this through the scrum of scrums. The Program Board is a perfect approach to showcase the cross-team dependencies.

A sample SAFe Program board

A pattern SAFe Program board. Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Supply: Scaled Agile

1. Examine and Adapt (I&A)

An examine and adapt occasion is scheduled after each PI. This occasion is devoted to aligning to the rules of Kaizen, which merely means to alter for the higher. The occasions comprise self induced thought processes to revalidate your assumptions that all the things is working OK. The I&A occasion consists of three sub-parts as under:  

  • PI System Demo
  • Quantitative and qualitative measurement
  • Retrospective and problem-solving workshop

2. ART Sync 

Agile launch trains are inclined to apply cadencesynchronization course of to assist handle the skill to deal with steady worth supply. An ART sync will sometimes comprise of the under sub-events.  

This occasion is for representatives from all of the groups on a launch practice to return collectively in an everyday cadenced method, particularly on giant ARTs. That is usually facilitated by the discharge practice engineer (RTE) and can contain scrum masters of the person groups and some chosen crew members (authorised by the crew). The only real goal of the SoS calls are to know progress in direction of the widespread aim, validate cross crew dependencies and unblock impediments that will come up out of them. 

Period: The size and frequency of the assembly will depend upon just a few components like the dimensions of the ART, the discharge frequency, sort of options being labored on, skill to decouple releases and many others. For e.g an ART which releases options into manufacturing each four weeks would possibly wish to have an SoS name each 2 weeks for about an hour. Once more, if this doesn’t be just right for you, simply examine and adapt to what works properly on your organizational wants. 

Simply ensure that the SoS is utilised for its sole goal and never simply standing updates as depicted within the under comedian illustration.

Scrum of Scrums

Scrum of Scrums 

This occasion is represented by the Product Proprietor, enterprise analysts and the product administration group. That is used primarily to degree up the product backlog refinement and for clarifying PI (Program Increment) scope, reviewing roadmaps and grooming for the upcoming PIs.

Period: Very comparable in idea to the SoS, so simply observe what works for the group. 

Three. System Demo

As a part of a standard understanding in direction of delivering incremental software program, shortly after every iteration within the PI, there’s a system demo scheduled. Work accomplished throughout all groups from the discharge practice are compiled in a secure surroundings earlier than it’s reviewed by the enterprise stakeholders and different vital sponsors who might have a eager curiosity within the product. That is on prime of the person crew degree demos that occur after every iteration.

Period: Wherever between 2-Three hours that may enable time for an illustration of this system increment in a collative method, on prime of what has been delivered from the earlier PIs as properly.

In case your ART is fairly small, then you might wish to have simply have among the occasions mixed right into a extra generic ART sync, the place all roles come collectively to collaborate in direction of this system increment. This may generally happen if the ART is specializing in a specific worth stream, confined to restricted enterprise performance, moderately than elaborate options.

Answer/Portfolio Ranges

As you scale larger, the processes and occasions turn out to be a lot much less prescriptive. There’s a good purpose for this as a result of the main focus at this degree is not only on having repetitive demos which have already occurred earlier than however on constructing thought management round enterprise outcomes and enhancing enterprise agility. Which is why we is not going to be diving deep into that on this weblog. However allow us to take a look at the occasions that happen on the macro degree.

  • Lean Funds Overview  
  • Concept Sharing through Communities of Apply (not a proper occasion however a collaborative group)
  • Answer Demo
  • Portfolio Sync
  • Roadshow

What are the advantages of SAFe Agile ceremonies?:

Nicely, the extra I discuss this, the extra excited I’m. A PI planning occasion when carried out to its truest goal, will get half the job achieved. Right here is the place many of the brainstorming happens and enterprise worth will get decided and, in some circumstances, will get assigned in a quantifiable method to consumer tales and helps with the prioritisation.

PI Planning

PI Planning 

  • Synchronisation in direction of a standard aim

The occasions are a relentless reminder that each one groups are working in direction of delivering incremental worth both on a specific worth stream, or characteristic or program. An RTE and Product Administration will assist reiterating the necessity to deal with the bigger aim while serving to finding out inter crew dependencies.

As is the framework itself, SAFe occasions/ceremonies are much less prescriptive. An SPC would advocate, apply the rules however examine and adapt as to what works on your group. As per the instance I supplied earlier w.r.t to the length of the SAFe occasions, begin with one thing cheap after which validate its effectiveness. Then go away Kaizen to do the remainder.

  • Visualization of incremental worth supply

Alternative for Enterprise stakeholders and sponsors to take a look on the total program increment each iteration, thus serving to them consider the progress and supply well timed suggestions on market developments. 

What are the widespread errors?

  • Lack of a shared product imaginative and prescient

Issues can go mistaken if there’s not sufficient illustration within the product administration group, say for e.g on the PO Sync occasion. This may result in a blurred product imaginative and prescient with every crew understanding of sync. This may occasionally in the end get detected too late, in all probability on the time of the system demo, and result in an entire lot of undesirable rework.

The Scrum Of Scrum occasion ought to be used as an occasion to unblock cross crew impediments or dependencies and to not simply replace what every crew has been doing or is doing in its present dash. 

Given the size at which these occasions can be carried out, it’s essential that the related occasions are facilitated in a timeboxed method or else the individuals may find yourself sitting and speaking for hours. Roles like RTE, SPC Coaches and many others can be essential in addressing this subject.

Lack of efficient collaboration instruments may result in some disastrous conditions while facilitating the SAFe occasions. Given that almost all groups are operating digital ceremonies/occasions in the meanwhile, its essential to determine a working distributed mannequin. This can then be certain that the platform is ready up for the simplest collaboration and cross-functional work to happen.

Whilst you attempt to scale, as per the implementation roadmap, its important that you just solidify the method round which your ARTs can be functioning. It’s like setting the railway tracks with the proper observe gauge matching the configurations of the wheelsets of the trains that may run on them. If not, they are going to simply derail. As your ARTs cross by your set course of, they are going to solely profit by sustaining focus and tempo whereas transferring in direction of a profitable incremental product supply.

Thanks on your persistence and want you all the perfect in your Agile journey. In case you need me to write down about any particular matter, please be happy to remark under and I’ll be very happy so as to add them to my ‘Weblog Backlog’. For those who favored the article, please do share it amongst your agile group to assist unfold the phrase.  

Hope to see you quickly, with extra such attention-grabbing matters.