Mastering Large Solution SAFe: Achieving Success on Complex Projects

Are you tired of struggling to manage large-scale projects with multiple teams and stakeholders? 

Do you find yourself drowning in a sea of emails, spreadsheets, and status reports? 

Fear not, my fellow project managers! There is a solution to your woes, and it’s called Large Solution SAFe. SAFe, or the Scaled Agile Framework, has become a popular approach for managing large-scale projects in recent years. 

Large Solution SAFe takes this a step further by providing a framework for coordinating multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs) to deliver large, complex solutions. 

In this article, we’ll explore some of the key patterns that contribute to the effectiveness of Large Solution SAFe. 

Aligning on a Common Goal

One of the biggest challenges in managing large solutions is ensuring that everyone is aligned on the same goal. Large Solution SAFe addresses this by defining a clear purpose for the solution, along with a set of guiding principles that all teams must adhere to.

For example, let’s say you’re working on a project to develop a new e-commerce platform for your company. 

Your purpose might be something like “to create a modern, user-friendly platform that enables customers to easily purchase products online.” Your guiding principles might include things like “putting the customer first” and “maintaining a focus on simplicity.”

By establishing a shared purpose and guiding principles, all teams can work towards a common goal and ensure that their work is aligned with the overall solution.

Coordinating Across Teams

In a large solution, it’s critical to ensure that all teams are working together in a coordinated manner. Large Solution SAFe provides several mechanisms for achieving this, including regular Program Increment (PI) Planning sessions and a Solution Train.

PI Planning sessions bring together all teams working on the solution to collaboratively plan the work for the upcoming PI. During these sessions, teams identify dependencies and work together to ensure that their plans are aligned.

The Solution Train provides a higher-level view of the solution and helps to coordinate work across multiple ARTs. The Solution Train Engineer (STE) is responsible for ensuring that all ARTs are aligned and that dependencies are being managed effectively.

Managing Dependencies

One of the biggest challenges in managing large solutions is managing dependencies between teams. Large Solution SAFe provides several mechanisms for identifying and managing dependencies, including the use of Solution and System Architects and the creation of a Dependency Management Board.

Solution and System Architects help to ensure that the overall solution architecture is aligned and that dependencies are being managed effectively. The Dependency Management Board is responsible for identifying and managing dependencies between teams.

By proactively managing dependencies, teams can reduce the risk of delays and ensure that the solution is delivered on time and on budget.

Real-World Example

In the world of space exploration, building a space shuttle is no small feat. It requires the coordination of multiple teams, technologies from various vendors, and a lot of patience. This is where Large Solution SAFe comes in.

Let’s take a look at how Large Solution SAFe was used to build a space shuttle. The space shuttle itself is considered the Large Solution, and all the ARTs (Agile Release Trains) that are coordinating to build it are considered a Solution Train.

In this example, we will focus on three ARTs: Comms (Communications), Propulsion, and Chassis. Each ART is composed of 5-12 teams that work together to deliver the solution.

One capability that needed to be built at the Large Solution level was the ability for the operator to accelerate the shuttle manually if needed, as opposed to it being coordinated by the computer. This capability was named “Manual Thrust.”

To break down this Large Solution Capability into smaller pieces, each ART had to contribute to the overall solution. The Comms ART had to create the handle and/or switches to initiate the thrust, the Propulsion ART had to receive the command from the Comms ART and fire the thrusters accordingly, and the Chassis ART had to ensure that the chassis was built in a way that could withstand the potential forces that might be envisioned from a manual versus an automated thrust capability.

Throughout the development process, the teams had to work together to manage dependencies and ensure that they were aligned on the same goal. Regular Program Increment (PI) Planning sessions were held to collaboratively plan the work for the upcoming PI. During these sessions, teams identified dependencies and worked together to ensure that their plans were aligned.

The Solution Train provided a higher-level view of the solution and helped to coordinate work across multiple ARTs. The Solution Train Engineer (STE) was responsible for ensuring that all ARTs were aligned and that dependencies were being managed effectively.

By using Large Solution SAFe, the teams were able to deliver a space shuttle that met all the required specifications, including the ability for the operator to accelerate manually if needed. The success of this project was due to the alignment on a common goal, the coordination across teams, and the effective management of dependencies.

In conclusion, Large Solution SAFe is an effective framework for managing large-scale projects such as building a space shuttle. By breaking down the Large Solution Capability into smaller pieces, coordinating across ARTs, and managing dependencies effectively, teams can deliver complex solutions in a timely and efficient manner.

Conclusion

If you’re struggling to manage a large-scale project, Large Solution SAFe may be the answer you’re looking for. By aligning on a common goal, coordinating across teams, and managing dependencies, Large Solution SAFe provides a framework for delivering complex solutions in a timely and efficient manner.

At Agileseventeen, we partner with organizations to help them transform and achieve their goals. We have extensive experience in helping teams adopt Large Solution SAFe and successfully manage large-scale projects. Contact us today at talkagile@agileseventeen.com to get started on your journey.

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