SAFe in Jira – External dependencies on the Program Board

External dependencies play a relevant role in product development and in the collaboration of the individual teams in the ART (Agile Release Train) and in collaboration with other teams. For efficient collaboration, any dependencies, blockers, or risks should be directly identified and resolved. In addition, external teams that are not in the ART should be included in the PI (Program Increment) planning process. In this way, it is possible to identify at an early stage whether there are any external dependencies that the team must take into account accordingly.

For the new release of Agile Hive, we have introduced external dependencies for our Program Boards. This allows teams to also consider external teams in their planning, as well as day-to-day work. You can see how this works here:

Managing Dependencies in Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

In SAFe, agile teams scale on to hundreds or even thousands of practitioners. To set a long-term vision, you have to look at the bigger picture. Thus it is critical to ensure that dependencies have to be reduced to an absolute minimum. The first step taken to do so is done in the Program Increment (PI) Planning.

Why we need external dependencies

During the PI Planning, all the Agile Release Train team members, stakeholders, and business owners collaborate to plan the next iterations. All of them band together to map out all the inter-team dependencies. This is done on a Program Board that acts as a guide that helps identify and break down the dependencies.

Furthermore, dependencies to external teams that are not within the ART are identified. These teams maybe take on a supporting role and the development team or work as a service team towards the other teams. To ensure the dependency won't delay the developing teams, it can be resolved in the PI or by the team responsible for the task. Dependencies like these need to be discussed and addressed by the teams while they have their regular scrums.

External dependencies on the Program Board

In practice, the external dependencies are displayed on the program board. Since Agile Hive uses the Program Board to automatically display dependencies between teams working in one ART, it can also be used to display dependencies to external teams. For this purpose, we display the external teams directly below the teams located in the ART. The external teams are simply made visible by the "External" label. 

Agile Hive: External Dependencies

Setting external dependencies

To set an external dependency in Agile Hive, the following change must be made to the Jira issue. For this, a new issue is created in the Jira project for any team that's not part of the ART. This issue will now be linked to the corresponding ART issue via a "required" relationship. Finally, only a "due date" has to be set in the external issue in the time span of the desired PI. The corresponding task is now displayed in the Program Board in the correct iteration. If the due date of the issue is before the due date of the dependency, no warning is shown because it will be ready in time. If it is after, there is a warning because it is not expected to be ready in time.


Learn more about SAFe and Agile Hive: SAFe in Jira

If you are curious about learning more about SAFe or the software-supported implementation of SAFe, ask us about Agile Hive!  We would be happy to discuss your requirements for enterprise-wide agile product development and product management with you. Take a look at our Implementation Project documentation to see an overview of what an implementation would entail.

Get in touch with us today, and let us demonstrate how it works in a personal session.


Further Reading

Agile Hive Implementation Project
Scaled Agile: SAFe 5.0 changes and how Agile Hive maps them
SAFe with Atlassian tools: Agile Hive is a Scaled Agile Platform Partner
Agile Hive: What is SAFe®?
SAFe resources to get you started right



Learn more about Creative Commons licensing and //Seibert/Media