SAFe Implementation Roadmap part 4: Create the implementation plan

In this blog series, we are taking a quick look at each of the 12 steps in the SAFe Implementation Roadmap. Previously, we discussed Identifying Value Streams and Agile Release Trains. Today we will discuss our first real action point, creating the implementation plan.

Everything we’ve talked about in this series previously has been conceptual. Today will be the first time in this implementation plan that we attempt to enact actual change in our teams. Creating our implementation plan will be the start of our actions. We create our implementation plan with three overarching steps according to the Scaled Agile website.

  1. Pick the first value stream.
  2. Select the first Agile Release Train (ART)
  3. Create a preliminary plan for additional ARTs and value streams

Let’s go through each of these one at a time.

Pick the First Value Stream

There is no right or wrong way to choose your first value stream, and there are no right or wrong value streams to choose from. As an organization, the team has chosen to apply SAFe methodologies and principles because they are looking to improve the entire organization, not just one piece. The smartest way to choose the first value stream is to just pick one initial stream since the organization has not tested SAFe anywhere yet.

Once the team of Lean-Agile Leaders, Safe Program Consultants (SPCs), and members of the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE) have chosen their value stream, they need to dig deeper into the details. Who are the main players in this value stream? What is the value they are adding, and to what products and services? How do they measure success? All of these are important questions when digging into the first value stream.

SAFe provides a nice layout for gathering all your details in their “Value Stream Canvas,” pictured below:

SAFe Implementation Roadmap part 4: Create the implementation plan

Getting all of this information will require a lot of work. The team needs to know how people in the value stream are working now and how they should be working in the future. Do not take this task lightly. This could take days to complete.

Select the First Agile Release Train (ART)

Looking for the first ART may be simple at first. If your organization is smaller, it could just be your first value stream. However, if you have a larger organization, you may need to involve other leaders and stakeholders. Ideally, the first ART is one where you can establish a quick win. According to the Scaled Agile website, we look for four characteristics in our first ART:

    1. Leadership support - Leaders who might already have agile experience and could already be involved in the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE)
    2. Clear products or solutions - Something that the company sells or values highly, usually this is a product or service sold to external customers.
    3. Collaborating teams - The ART should involve more than one team working closely together, and the teams are willing to take the plunge to SAFe.
  • Significant challenge or opportunity - Getting the most difficult ART done first will be beneficial to the team in establishing other ARTs. Choosing the one with the largest room for growth will demonstrate the clear benefit of the framework.

Create a Preliminary Plan for Additional ARTs and Value Streams

What went well in the team’s initial work? What went poorly? It’s important that the change agents are working as a cohesive agile unit, practicing what they preach. Through this, they are beginning to establish their plan. While nothing is set in stone, the team learns and grows from their first value stream and ART. Change is contagious, and once other members of different value streams and ARTs start to notice this change, they will ask for tips, pointers, and tricks. It is here that the LACE is imperative.

Next, the change agents should invite other stakeholders and leaders in for PI planning. It may be that the first ART is still launching, and that’s fine. If the team starts to feel momentum gaining, it’s time to bring in other members to plan a roadmap for the rest of the ARTs.

Before fully committing to the roadmap, the team should ensure that the first ART is successful. The metrics for success will change from organization to organization, but the additional value should be obvious to stakeholders.

Now you've set up your implementation plan. Where does the implementation journey take us next? Time to prepare for your ART Launch, so be sure to stay tuned.

Don't miss out on the previous parts of the SAFe Implementation Roadmap series!

Part 1: Getting started and reaching the tipping point
Part 2: Train lean-agile change agents
Part 3: Identify Value Streams and Agile Release Trains

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
SAFe resources to get you started right
Agile Hive: What is SAFe®?

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