Using Amplio to Improve SAFe
As many practices as SAFe has it is missing several that can be used to make it much more effective. These primarily relate to:
- using MBIs in program increment planning
- organizing teams within a value stream
- organizing teams to decouple value streams
- teaching management basic theories of flow
- how to train teams
- keep new product teams out of the PIs except to let shared services know what they need
- making clear what promises mean between teams in the planning event
All of these are usually helpful in removing waste in SAFe and speeding up delivery.
Using MBIs in Program Increment Planning
Using MBIs in the program increment provides the following benefits:
- By descoping before the event, you work towards getting earlier releases. This also makes the event less hectic. And it avoids the situation where there is time to create and output bloated features. Using MBIs helps keep a focus on what you can deliver soonest.
- Earlier releases mean that customers get value sooner.
- Teams align better to release value by focusing on the MBIs.
- There is less work in process during the PI which results in fewer dependencies to manage.
Learn more about MBIs here.
Organizing Teams With a Value Stream
Organizing people into Agile Release Trains is a start, but the organization can go way beyond that. There are three common adjustments to an ART’s value creation structure. These are:
- Use the borrow team member value creation pattern. This is when a member of shared services or a component team can be dedicated to a team while still being under the manager they currently have. They act as if they are on the team they are supporting while attending daily huddles with both the team that has adopted them and the team they are on.
- Talk to shared services managers and see if they can have their people focus on specific teams. It’s better to see if members can be split across fewer teams.
- If the ART itself has people who support several teams in the ART, see if some of them can be placed on the teams they support. This may be permanent or temporary as in the borrow team member pattern.
Organizing Teams to Decouple Value Streams
There is a cost when team members work in multiple value streams. This results in the coupling of the value streams and delays in the workflow. This creates waste and multi-tasking. Using value creation structures such as the focused solution team or BLAST (Basic Lean-Agile Softution Team) can create islands of autonomy in the ART and reduce waste.
Teaching Management Basic Theories of Flow
Unless management understands the cost of interfering with what a team is working on. While many people complain about management few provide what management needs to understand why it important to keep SAFe a pull system.
Many SAFe implementations succeed for one or two PIs because, in the beginning, managers let teams decide what they can do. Working on the right amount of work effectively keeps work in process within the capacity of the teams and, therefore, doesn’t create extra waste. But without this understanding, managers tend to start pushing work on the team and one of the major benefits of SAFe is lost.
It may be non-intuitive, but teams can learn why they must work in sprints and integrate with other teams when they are first trained in how PIs will work. In other words, creating the context with which teams will work and providing they why of the collaboration reduces the resistance teams have.
Keep New Product Teams Out of the PIs Except to Let Shared Services Know What They Need
It may be non-intuitive, but teams can learn why they must work in sprints and integrate with other teams when they are first trained in how PIs will work. In other words, creating the context in which teams will work and providing the why of the collaboration reduces the resistance teams have.
Have Everyone Be Clear What a Promise Means
In too many PIs, one team will ask another team for something to be done, and the team being asked says, “Sure.” But then, when crunch time comes, they just shrug their shoulders and say they can’t get it done. people often don’t like to make promises because they’ve been brought up to believe if they can’t keep a promise they are bad. The reality, of course, is that things do come up, and sometimes, keeping a promise is outside of their control. People need to agree that when these situations occur, they will communicate as soon as possible that there is a chance that their agreement won’t be kept. During the event this means that a team saying they will do something must acknolwedge the date by which it is needed and let the requesting team know when that date is in jeopardy.