Our visit to the Scaling Agility Space Conference on November 20 will be remembered as very informative. An important aspect that we took away from the conference are the elementary differences to common project management methods like XP, Scrum, or Kanban.
Most companies have recognized the effectiveness of agile project management. Being agile requires a huge change in the mindset of the entire organization. In a small business where business and IT work closely together, it should not be a big challenge for management and stakeholders to create a homogeneous agile structure within the organization. But for larger organizations, where business is often separated from IT. If agility only applies to IT, failures will certainly occur, as agility cannot be limited to the IT team alone, while the business side still follows an old hierarchical structure.
During our visit, we took advantage of the opportunity to talk to Claire Jarosz (Software Engineering at Jeppesen) and learned how she uses SAFe to keep the overall picture in the company and thus lead larger, different agile teams. Claire’s first introduction to SAFe was in Denver a few years ago, when she had the opportunity to attend a workshop with a team from Scaled Agile’s headquarters in Colorado; she still remembers the energy and excitement created during that workshop and the later rollout of SAFe to the Software Development Centre in Gdansk. One of the aspects of SAFe that Claire strongly appreciates; is how it helps leaders inspire their teams to find a way.
During her speech, Claire introduced us to her broad experience in small and large software companies, giving us the opportunity to face many different challenges and work on different solutions.
The SAFe framework combines 3 levels - portfolio, program and team. The portfolio level decides on strategic topics to work on, creates Portfolio Epics from them and transfers them to the program. At the program level, the portfolio epics are further refined and divided into individual features. These are assigned to teams to deliver an agile release train across iterations. The framework looks very good and looks promising in terms of building a homogeneous agile organization.
SAFe is designed to support companies in delivering value continuously and more efficiently at regular and predictable intervals. It provides a knowledge base of proven, integrated principles and practices to support business agility.
We had another interesting conversation with the "agile nerd" Ali Hajou whose lecture answered the question of how we can integrate the "business" into our Agile Transformation. In his keynote, Ali shows how to get teams on board that are located outside of software development. Scalable agility not only upwards, but also "sideways". Lateral scaling in marketing, business, hardware development, operations and beyond. Ali Hajou is a Senior Consultant at BlinkLane Consulting, Senior Trainer at Gladwell Academy and SPCT candidate for Scaled Agile.
He is particularly interested in the applicability of agile practices in highly documentary environments and companies with strict corporate governance in which he has both practical and academic experience. He is determined to help anyone interested in value-driven, responsive and iterative ways of working. This has resulted in several scientific papers published at conferences in Paris and Guimaraēs (Portugal).
We were very pleased to have networked with Claire Jarosz and Ali Hajou, as well as with many other interesting interlocutors. Surely, we will meet again in the future.
All in all, our visit to the Scaling Agility Space Conference 2019 was worthwhile for us and INKUBIT and we are already looking forward to our visit in 2020.