Agile workflow

7 min read

The Ultimate Scaled Agile Framework Enabler: Software

28, Nov 2021
Sean Blake
Written by Sean Blake, Head of Marketing

Being quick to adapt is a superpower in the modern business landscape. With change happening every single day, building business agility is key to keeping up. However, just as extra wei

ght can slow you down on a hike, a large organization may find it tough to stay light on its feet.

To implement agile practices at a large scale, many business leaders turn to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as developed by Scaled Agile, Inc. SAFe can help you master enterprise agility. But if you want the framework to really do its magic, you need Scaled Agile Framework enablers that help all your team members adopt it with ease.

One key enabler for large-scale agility is software. As you move toward more agile development, your digital tools can help you keep your entire team on the same page. No more miscommunication or lack of alignment — here's what the right software can do for your enterprise.

Equip your distributed or co-located teams to implement the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) without leaving Jira.

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1. Drive greater transparency across your team

At every level of your agile enterprise, there are different priorities and workflows happening. For instance, each product owner is laser-focused on the specific product they manage. At the portfolio level, managers are all about cross-product management and long-term goals. This can easily lead to a disjointed organization when you're a large team, which makes SAFe harder to implement.

Software that supports enterprise agile planning can be a game changer. It can drive transparency, which is one of the four core values of SAFe, by creating a central place to visualize what's happening across your entire organization. Managers and their team members can see how their contributions feed into broader goals or impact other tasks.

When there's cross-team visibility, the SAFe framework becomes easier to implement than ever.

2. Get more visibility on dependencies

When you start to implement the Scaled Agile Framework, your team will likely become more interconnected than ever. SAFe emphasizes cross-team collaboration. But when you're a large organization, getting the ball rolling on your to-do lists can be difficult if even one team falls behind.

As a Scaled Agile Framework enabler, software like Easy Agile Programs for Jira can improve your workflows by helping you map out dependencies. You can see the status of each issue at the program level, which can help you follow up with the right people at the team level.

Software helps you master continuous delivery and work at a more productive, agile capacity.

3. Align your team with well-organized backlogs

Scaled Agile Framework Enabler(s): I Know What I Am Doing Halloween GIF

If you want to make sure that things get done in an enterprise agile environment, you need well-organized team backlogs, solution backlogs, program backlogs, and portfolio backlogs. Backlogs tell you what's a priority for your team to do and leave out what's not. As you can imagine, making sure all your work items are entered into the right backlog is key to ensuring they stay on your radar — otherwise, there's no chance they'll get done.

In addition to helping you build better and more visual backlogs for your team, agile software enables SAFe by improving backlog estimates, which tell you how long it'll take you to deliver a product.

As an example, when you use Jira, you can track your estimates and how long it actually takes to get backlog items done. When you know your accuracy level, your future backlog estimates can be more on-point, which means you can improve your forecasting and get a better shot of deploying products on time. This continual adaptation is what agile is all about.

4. Keep software development and business goals aligned

If you want to successfully apply the SAFe framework, your development team can't simply exist in its own silo. Even when they differ, development priorities and business priorities need to contribute to the same broad goals and initiatives. Otherwise, your agile release train — for which business owners are the primary stakeholders — may get derailed.

So how can software help? Software is a Scaled Agile Framework enabler because it can help you visualize what's happening across your organization in real time. For example, when you use Easy Agile Roadmaps for Jira, your team members can easily see when work will begin and end on each Jira issue, divided into theme or team swimlanes. This helps everyone gain clarity on where a product is headed — no more driving blind.

Thanks to agile software, you can increase collaboration between teams and ensure value delivery, both of which are key to SAFe. Meeting customer needs (and business requirements) can be easier than ever with the right software as your Scaled Agile Framework enabler.

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5. Plan and communicate with more consistency

SAFe calls for built-in quality, which means your processes should naturally help you achieve successful results. Certain software options enable this agile principle by helping you plan and operate with more consistency, so it's clear when things aren't going as planned.

Software can standardize your processes by ensuring you hit key milestones in every project. For example, Jira allows you to create Definition of Done (DoD) checklists to ensure your products meet key requirements. While your acceptance criteria for individual user stories may differ, you can still guarantee consistent quality. More validation = more confidence.

Software can also standardize the language you use to communicate. With all the jargon and niche terms that agile teams use — from "value streams" and "solution architect" to "Scrum Master" and "system architect" — keeping your team aligned can be a tough job. But agile software can help you ensure your team is exposed to consistent language (and no confusing synonyms).

Your hierarchies, agile team roles, and more will make far more sense to your team members when they're not constantly changing.

Focused Team Planning

Ensure teams have a focused view of committed Features/Epics with a dedicated Team Planning Board.

6. Make better decisions about your resources

The Lean methodology plays a big role in the Scaled Agile Framework. Lean is all about cutting down waste and upping value, which can both help you boost your enterprise agility.

Enterprise agile software supports these Lean principles by helping you keep an eye on:

  • What projects are in your portfolio, so you can start prioritizing the ones that actually contribute to business goals
  • What your team members are working on, so you know when they're at capacity and if they're working on issues that match their skill sets
  • Where your budget is going, so you don't overspend

Your software acts as a central location for all your resource planning.

As your software starts to enable the Lean method, it naturally allows the SAFe framework to flourish across your entire organization.

Build agility with the right Scaled Agile Framework enabler(s)

When it comes to implementing agile, large teams need large solutions. The right software can act as a Scaled Agile Framework enabler by giving you the enterprise-level functionality you need to stay quick on your feet, align your team, and keep consistent to produce high-value products. Your software can also help your entire organization work toward the same goals — even when exact priorities differ.

With Easy Agile Programs for Jira, you can accomplish more effective program increment (PI) planning at a large scale. This agile PI planning software allows you to map out dependencies across teams. When you want to zoom in at the team level, you can easily focus on specific features and epics, while staying confident that you're aligned with other teams.

Get started to continually improve your agility no matter how large your enterprise grows.

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