On her weekly podcast Ryn ‘The Guardian’ Melberg tells those considering a move from Agile to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) how and what to consider. No surprise, there is not a single way to accomplish this but there are a lot of things shared in common to consider. The Guardian Podcast can be heard at on iTunes, Soundcloud, or on her web site at www.rynmelberg.com.
When To Scale
The main considerations are the overall goals an organization has for itself. Some organizations will start with individual Scrum teams before deciding to scale. Scaling for most organizations at the enterprise level does not always mean the entire company goes to SAFe. But when scaling, every part of the organization needs to support the scale up. Functions like legal, communications, and H.R. will have to restructure how they work to support the success of those Scrum teams. “When a company recognizes that to get the business value they really need or want, like time to market, revenue, profitability enhancement, market share growth, and quality improvement will require more than what a single Scrum team or a group of individual, disconnected Scrum teams can deliver,” Melberg said. “That is when it is time to scale up.”
What Order Or Sequence
Melberg recommends converting a single, complete revenue stream all at once. “From executive leadership all the way through the organization for a single product or service,” Melberg said. “We would do SAFe for the entire product. For a credit card company this would be a card for a student. That is an entire product for that company.”
Another way is the incremental adaptation. Organizations start with a couple of Scrum teams and add them as they are needed or wanted. These teams are not working together, and are not on the same ‘cadence’. “They will create a single Agile relief train and see how that works,” she said. “Then they add another and another to the portfolio level. This is known as bottoms up implementation, which is another way of saying incremental.”
The ‘Minimum Viable Program’ or MVP is a single, thin slice of the company from top to bottom with the SAFe model applied to the entire ‘slice’. This includes all functions from top to bottom. “Each of these methods will uncover different problems just in a very different way,” Melberg stated. “This can be overwhelming. Companies will find big gaps in their architecture, compliance and governance.” The bottom up will take a lot of time to uncover problems because the scaling is not there and there is no one to report gaps to, even when they are found. “It can sometimes take years for executives to find out where the gaps are when adapting this incrementally. The MVP is the middle ground.”
With MVP problems are found quickly but the size of them is manageable. “When converting a single slice of the company that includes all of the functions it provides an excellent snapshot of the entire company,” Melberg said. “Think of the slice as a core sample of earth. It is not necessary to dig a giant hole to see what is underneath when a core sample will do.”
Ryn Melberg is an Agile and Governance expert – time-to-market, risk, predictability, and customer engagement leader at Apex Business Consulting, LLC.