A Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe 4.5)

In the past, DISTek faced long and challenging development cycles with single individuals assigned to complete projects in isolation. Projects were often plagued with schedule delays, cost overages, and quality problems. Guided by a SAFe champion and small team of coaches, DISTek successfully implemented the Scrum framework within SAFe 4.5. Agile methods within SAFe 4.5 have significantly reduced overages and helped the organization to meet deadlines.

Releases changed to fixed-date and scope was managed and prioritized to ensure that all business capabilities were delivered on-time, even though some low priority features (‘bells and whistles’) were cut to meet the delivery date. Quality improved significantly as a result of earlier and more frequent (incremental) integration testing, which is fundamental to the Agile approach. SAFe was tailored to the organization’s unique needs making it more “custom fit” and applicable to the organization’s specific needs.

The Scaled Agile Framework website thoroughly describes the SAFe model. SAFe defines three levels for scaling an Agile organization: Portfolio, Program, Team. At the portfolio level, Lean-Agile principles are applied to balance workload with delivery capacity and optimize value delivered, while aligning architectural efforts. At the Program level, product features are integrated and tested often by a System team. At the team level, multiple Agile teams build and test small features within a single business domain or system component and deliver running, tested features (user stories) on a set cadence (usually every 2 weeks) to the System team. SAFe prescribes fixed released dates with variable scope using the release train metaphor; if a feature misses the train (the date), it has to wait for the next release train.

Each Agile team works in 2-week sprints (development iterations) throughout the seven-week program increment (PI). One-day release planning events are held at the end of each seven-week PI to help the team understand project scope. The event also helps them understand “big picture” and quickly reach a common understanding of the goal and scope of the release.

Ongoing use of SAFe will be a benefit to both current and future projects and clients and we are pleased to be able to show the value-add we can make for any future needs you may have.