SAFe Implementation Roadmap part 6: Train Teams and Launch the ART

In this blog series, we take a quick look at each of the 12 steps in the SAFe Implementation Roadmap. Previously, we discussed Preparing for our First Art Launch. Today we will discuss training the team and actually launching the ART.

If you've been following this series, every step up until now has built up to launching your first ART. This step will allow you to begin to realize the actual benefits of this transformation. It’s essential that you. have completed the previous 5 steps of the roadmap. So if you find that your Lean-Agile Center of Excellence is not established or your Agile Release Train (ART) stakeholders are not trained and on board with the program, you should go back and visit the previous articles.

Keep in mind that you are drastically changing your organization’s culture and way of working. We have mentioned this in previous blogs, but it is not easy at all. First, you will need buy-in from key stakeholders who form the new way of working. After this, you must follow up with continuous training and coaching so that all the new skills are honed and perfected.

Training

It is now time for the agile team members to fully understand their role in the Agile Release Train (ART). The agile team members are generally the members of the business who are designing, developing, operating, and financing the solution or solutions that the business provides. Therefore, it’s crucial that they individually and collectively know where they stand in the organization’s ART.

Scaled Agile offers a two-day training that covers everything your team will need to be successful. This training typically includes an introduction to Agile and an overview of the Agile Manifesto. It also includes training on scrum elements, program increment planning, basic events in SAFe and scrum, and building a kanban board for story tracking.

On top of the training, the teams will partake in Team Backlog grooming. This will help realize the items necessary for the upcoming Program Increment (PI) planning event.

If your teams are already trained in Agile, you will experience some resistance to the training. They might think that they know enough about Agile development to actively contribute to a SAFe organization. That being said, there are many elements to Agile at Scale that they will need to learn. According to the Scaled Agile website, these are:

  • The role of the team in PI Planning, Inspect and Adapt, and the IP Iteration.
  • Focus on participation in the System Demo
  • Applying Features, User Stories, and acceptance criteria to define and validate system behavior
  • Using story points as the measure of velocity and training
  • Understanding the flow of work through the Kanban systems, including the team’s local Kanban
  • Collaboration with other team’s and other roles, including Product Management and System Architecture
  • Introduction/application of Built-In Quality practices, including Continuous Integration, Test-First with test automation, and pair work
  • Building the larger team of teams that constitutes the ART

Regarding the size of the training, Scaled Agile highly recommends training in a large group of up to 100 people. They outline the benefits of this training well on their website. In the end, the size of the training is up to you. There are certainly two sides to this coin, and ultimately both can lead to successful SAFe implementation.

Launching

The next stage of this step is launching the ART. Again, there is no set time or process for launching, but SAFe practitioners recommend following the following image for your week leading up to the launch:

At first glance, this might seem like a lot for one week. But, remember, this is only for a single ART, not an entire organization. If you take this pragmatic approach to each ART, you are ensured a higher chance of success.

PI planning comes smack in the middle of your already chaotic preparation week. This meeting will help build each team’s backlogs, so they know what features and stories to focus on in the coming weeks. The metrics for a successful planning session are outlined below and on the SAFe website:

  • Build confidence and enthusiasm in the new way of working
  • Start to build the ART as a team-of-agile-teams and the social network that it relies on
  • Teach the teams how they can assume responsibility for planning and delivery
  • Create full visibility into the mission and current context of the program
  • Demonstrate the commitment of Lean-Agile Leaders to the SAFe implementation

We know that may have seemed daunting at first, but with the right preparation and tools, nothing should stand in the way of a successful ART launch! Be sure to keep tabs on the next part which will cover how to coach ART Execution.


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
Part 4: Create the implementation plan
Part 5: Prepare for ART launch


The best journeys are taken together. Let us accompany you on your SAFe journey every step of the way.

We know that a SAFe implementation can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be with the right tools and the right partner. So whether you're about to take your first steps or ready to scale up, we will be there to help you evaluate and guide you through the process. Together with Germany's leading SAFe partner, Kegon, we will use our expertise in Agile Hive, Jira, and Jira Align to help you find the right methods and tools to fit your needs wherever you are on your SAFe journey.

Get in touch with us today so we can help get you started the best way possible for your organization.


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®?