Using the eight Flow Accelerators.
Introduction to Accelerating Flow
In today's fast-paced and competitive business landscape, organizations are seeking ways to deliver value to their customers more efficiently, which requires a deliberate focus on accelerating flow. Many enterprises are turning to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) version 6, a flow-based system that promotes continuous value delivery. In this blog post, we will explore how SAFe 6 enables the creation of an Agile Release Train (ART) that delivers a continuous flow of valuable features to customers. We'll delve into actionable takeaways, known as flow accelerators, that organizations can apply to optimize and improve their value delivery process.
1. Visualize and Limit Work-in-Process (WIP): Excessive Work-in-Process (WIP) hinders productivity and disrupts the flow of value delivery. To address this, an ART should visualize all features in process and manage the inventory in a WIP-limited ART Backlog Kanban system. Establish capacity allocation for feature and non-feature work to balance the workload effectively.
Actionable Takeaway: Implement a WIP-limited Kanban system for managing features and allocate capacity for both feature-related and non-feature-related work.
2. Address Bottlenecks: Bottlenecks restrict the productivity of the entire ART and must be promptly addressed to enhance flow. Identifying bottlenecks can be done during PI Planning or through SAFe metrics like Value Stream Mapping.
Actionable Takeaway: Identify bottlenecks, understand their impact on value flow, and increase capacity at the bottleneck when possible. Consider prioritizing the most valuable features that do not have dependencies.
3. Minimize Handoffs and Dependencies: Handoffs and dependencies slow down value delivery. Using the ART planning board to visualize dependencies and fostering incremental execution of dependencies can optimize the process.
Actionable Takeaway: Encourage cross-team integration, synchronize frequently, and optimize team structure to minimize handoffs and dependencies.
4. Get Faster Feedback: Timely feedback is crucial for ensuring the ART builds the right thing for the customer. Continuous customer engagement, solution telemetry, and frequent integration and testing are vital for getting faster feedback.
Actionable Takeaway: Engage with customers regularly, use telemetry to gather system usage data, and integrate and test frequently to obtain faster and more valuable feedback.
5. Work in Smaller Batches: Large batches of work lead to inefficiencies. Understanding and managing the types and sizes of batches, using cadence, automating delivery pipelines, and planning for smaller batches are essential in this regard.
Actionable Takeaway: Plan for smaller batches, automate delivery pipelines, and work in smaller, more manageable feature slices.
6. Reduce Queue Lengths: A long ART backlog queue delays the delivery of new features. Keeping roadmaps flexible, establishing a strong Product Management function, and leaving capacity for emergent priorities can reduce queue lengths.
Actionable Takeaway: Maintain a flexible roadmap, prioritize effectively, and allocate reserve capacity for unforeseen work.
7. Optimize Time 'In the Zone': The time spent in the zone, where creativity and focused intellectual effort occur, significantly impacts ART productivity. Reducing work-in-process, performing cross-team integration regularly, and maintaining solution health can optimize time 'in the zone.'
Actionable Takeaway: Minimize work-in-process, conduct regular cross-team integrations, and address technical debt proactively.
8. Remediate Legacy Policies and Practices: Legacy policies and practices can impede flow even after implementing SAFe. Identifying and rectifying these impediments require change agents to take corrective action and provide additional training and coaching to relevant stakeholders.
Actionable Takeaway: Identify legacy policies and practices, take corrective action, and provide training and coaching to stakeholders.
The Scaled Agile Framework version 6.0 provides a powerful toolset for building a continuous value delivery system through the Agile Release Train (ART) Flow. By implementing the eight flow accelerators, organizations can optimize and improve their value delivery process, ultimately enhancing business outcomes. Embracing a Lean-Agile way of working and addressing impediments to flow will pave the way for successful digital transformation and sustained competitive advantage.
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