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Introducing SAFe® with the Power of IBM DevOps

Do you need to orchestrate software development and delivery in your complex, heterogeneous environment but you’re not sure where to start? Have you heard about SAFe but you don’t know what it is or why you should care?

New in Rational Team Concert V6.0 is a feature that supports the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe) out of the box. This feature enables you to explore the framework and establish a SAFe Program of your own, complete with the infrastructure, artifacts, best practices, and guidance prescribed by SAFe built right into the tooling.

SAFe is the market-leading process framework for scaling lean and agile across the enterprise, providing guidance and best practices to help organizations realize success. SAFe with the Power of IBM DevOps is the combination of SAFe plus IBM DevOps to provide a comprehensive process and tooling framework that helps your organization balance the efficiencies gained through adoption of lean principles with the effectiveness realized through agile adoption to deliver the right things right.

Delivering the right things right through balance of lean and agile

Delivering the “right things right” through lean and agile adoption

The result is a framework which synchronizes development, testing and deployment across teams in heterogeneous environments, and enables collaboration of all roles in the organization in the planning and execution of software delivery.

Get Up and Running Quickly

The SAFe support in Rational Team Concert V6.0 provides an easy way for you to get up and running quickly to lead a SAFe-based transformation. Whether you are a SAFe novice who is just starting to explore, or an expert who is quite familiar with what it means to “do SAFe”, our support combines the flexibility and scale you need to support true enterprise teams using multiple processes, technologies, and tooling.  Let’s take a look at a few details.

Project Area Initialization

Rational Team Concert 6.0 includes a new SAFe 3.0 Program process template that helps you to easily establish a SAFe Program-level tooling infrastructure. When you use the template to create a Rational Team Concert project area, you will get out-of-the-box support for Programs and Teams wanting to incorporate agile and lean practices into the development and delivery of software with SAFe best practices and guidance. This includes an Agile Release Train timeline, SAFe roles and permissions, and a SAFe Program/Team hierarchy with associated work item categories.

Project area created by use of SAFe Program process template

SAFe Program project area

While the project area is configured to support SAFe Programs with Teams in the same Rational Team Concert project area, it can easily be used to support Programs that are tracking the work of existing Teams in separate project areas as well. Furthermore, it can be used to establish project areas for SAFe Teams separate from the Program because the process template includes updated Scrum elements that are aligned with SAFe. Simple editing of the project area configuration provides you with the flexibility you need to support multiple different Program and Team topologies.

SAFe Artifacts

SAFe artifacts are manifested in Rational Team Concert through work item types, plan types, and plan views. These artifacts support the most critical SAFe best practices, including relative ranking based on Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF), Kanban planning, and Program value-based delivery.

Work Item Types

The process template includes Program Epic and Feature work item types for the SAFe Program level, Story and Task work item types for the SAFe Team level, and PI Objectives for both Program and Team levels. Additional work item types for Defect, Risk, and Retrospective are also included.

Work item types created by SAFe Program process template

SAFe Work Item Types

Program Epics and Features include the WSJF attribute to help ease adoption of lean thinking by providing an economic means of decision-making. This enables the prioritization of work that maximizes business benefit. The WSJF attribute is calculated using this formula:

Weighted Shortest Job First calculation prescribed by SAFe

Weighted Shortest Job First calculation

The WSJF component attributes (User/Business Value, Time Criticality, RR/OE, and Job Size) are provided as Fibonacci enumerations, which can be tailored to suit your organization’s preferences. For the Epic, we also provide a Value Statement template to remind you of how best to articulate Program Epics.

The PI Objective is a way to track value delivery, which is a critical aspect of Enterprise Scaled Agile and IBM DevOps principles. By capturing the notion of planned and actual value delivery, we can provide you with insights into your organization’s ability to deliver value to your business and to customers.

Plan Views

Plan Views provided by the process template enable high-value SAFe processes. The SAFe Kanban System for Program Epics is a visual representation of rank and status.

Implementation of SAFe's Kanban Plan View in RTC

Kanban Plan View for Program Epics

The ability to capture and enforce Work in Progress (WIP) limits enables your team to practice the lean principle of “just enough” investment, reminding you again to take an economic view in decision-making.

The WSJF Ranked List view takes this concept a step further by helping your team learn how to quickly and relatively rank Features based on WSJF.

Implementation of WSJF Ranked List in RTC

WSJF Ranked List Plan View

Remember, it is not about high value alone, but the “biggest bang for the buck”. This plan view helps your team learn how to consistently rank Features to maximize benefit—to your customers as well as to your business.

Dashboards, Queries, Reports

No tooling infrastructure provides value unless it can turn your planning and tracking data into actionable analysis, so the process template helps you get started by providing Program and Team dashboards, along with queries and reports that are consistent with the SAFe Program and Team metrics. Here are some examples:

Reports supporting SAFe metrics

Reports Supporting SAFe Metrics

We also augment the SAFe guidance with our own, applying the knowledge of our experience working with enterprise customers to create incisive reports that you can use to drive decision-making. In particular, we provide insight into cross-team dependencies to help you address a critical pain point in managing software development and delivery across the Program.

Shows cross-team dependencies and status

Cross-Team Dependencies Report

Learn by Doing

So, the “process” and “tooling” to help your Program adopt lean and agile principles is provided—but what about the “people” aspect? The cultural transformation is perhaps the hardest part of an agile transformation initiative, no doubt about it. To help you with this, we incorporate process mentoring with the SAFe support in Rational Team Concert by providing you with work item templates that remind you of the typical tasks related to specific SAFe events and activities. The process template includes Work Item Templates for:

  • Program Initiation Activities. Creates tasks that guide you on the activities required to initiate your SAFe Program
  • Program Increment. Creates tasks that guide your team to lead a Program Increment, from the Release Planning Event through delivery
  • Development Iteration. Creates tasks to help teams plan development iterations through delivery of functionality
  • Innovation and Planning. Creates tasks for the Innovation and Planning sprints

All of the work item tasks describe activities consistent with those prescribed by SAFe and include in-context mentoring via a direct link to the topic described by the task on the SAFe website. This enables you to learn as you go and helps to ease adoption of SAFe, step by step.

Plan SAFely

While no tool alone can plan for you or make your teams collaborate, IBM’s SAFe solution can greatly simplify the transformation through tooling integrated with process guidance, coupled with the right data to help with your decision-making. I hope you like what you see. We would appreciate any and all feedback as we enhance our SAFe support going forward. As always, visit the Collaborative Lifecycle Management and Rational Team Concert What’s Happening sections for the latest news. And to keep abreast of everything related to our SAFe support now and in the future, please visit our SAFe landing page on the IBM DevOps Community and check back often for updates!

Thank you!