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The SAFe IP Iteration: It may be SAFe, but is it Agile? (Part 3)

This is the last part in the 'SAFe® IP Iteration' series. Read part one here and part two here if you missed them. In part three, Tom goes back to address the original objections to whether the IP Iteration is Agile.

 

Coming back to the original objections


Let's go back to our original objections and deal with them now that we understand why SAFe is constructed the way that it is.


"But this just isn't Agile! Why can't we just keep Sprinting?".


Some people really dislike the "break" from the cycle of Sprints and view the IP Iteration as an ineffective tradeoff that isn't needed because all of the above activities can be worked into each Sprint for each team. This is essentially the single-team Scrum view that life should be an endless series of Sprints.


The normal response to this is to point out that there's a bigger programme picture, that the team is part of a team-of-teams and time needs to be spent on those activities, and that all of this rests on the same PDCA principles that underpin Scrum.

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The IP Iteration: It may be SAFe but is it Agile? (Part 2)

This is the second part in a blog series talking about the IP Iteration that happens as part of the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). Missed the first part? Read it here.

What's the typical structure of an IP Iteration and why is it like this?


SAFe marks the boundaries of its PIs (Program Increments) through the IP Iteration. This is normally a two-week period during which the following activities are scheduled:

 

1. Completion of work


There is some contingency allowed in case that teams are very close to finishing their work in the current PI and can finish. The official guidance is up to one week, in practice less is desirable or this becomes a "buffer" teams will depend on.

There is also an allowance here for release activities - these will depend on whether major releases are aligned with PIs or not (a business decision, not required by SAFe) and the nature of the major release process: whether it is complicated and time-consuming or a simple "button-push".

 

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The IP Iteration: It may be SAFe but is it Agile? (Part 1)

"But this just isn't Agile!  Why can't we just keep Sprinting?".
"We don't have time for this, we've got too much work to do!".
"Planning together is worthless because everything changes soon afterwards."
"It is boring and a waste of my time, I'm here to write code".


These are just some of the things we regularly hear from clients who are learning the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). The part of SAFe they seem to struggle with most is the IP Iteration (sometimes called the 'bridge') that handles the switch between two adjacent PIs (Program Increments). This is probably the most misunderstood part of SAFe and the one that is abused the most in practice.


Let's start by unpicking why SAFe works like this - because there are good reasons that cannot be trivially dismissed.


The Plan Do Check Adjust/Act (PDCA) Cycle


First of all, most Agile methods are based on the PDCA cycle. (Note that there are alternatives to PDCA such as John Seddon's Check-Plan-Do.  However they are all ultimately variations on the same activities, just with different emphasis.)


PDCA is a basic improvement cycle that can be applied individually, to a team, to a programme or a wider organisation.


Planning - planning work/activity to do.
Doing - doing the work/activity.
Check - evaluating how we did.
Adjust(/Act) - improvement actions to get a better result next time.


Sports work like this. Before the game, we plantactics and strategy. Then we play the game (do).  After the game, we review our performance: what went well and badly and why (check).  Finally, we take learnings from this review and work to improve for future games (adjust/act).

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Event Insight: A Day With Dean Leffingwell

Dean Leffingwell Executive Briefing by Radtac

If you are in any way familiar with SAFe®, then the name 'Dean Leffingwell' will surely resonate with you. Creator of the Scaled Agile Framework®, Dean is a fantastic author and speaker - and we had the honour to spend an exciting day with him in London on June 12th. More below on how the day unfolded, what Dean taught us, and why you won't want to miss Darren's SPC class in August.

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SAFe® Program Consultant Certifications now available from Radtac

We are pleased to announce that Radtac now has a SAFe® Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT) - Darren Wilmshurst - who will be able to provide you with SAFe® Program Consultant (SPC) training.


SPCT Certification is the highest level of certification provided by Scaled Agile, and gives certified trainers the opportunity to run courses for you towards an SPC certification status.


Achieving the SPCT status is a culmination of a 12-month journey – read Darren’s blog post here about becoming an SPCT.

Scaled Agile Inc. established the SPCT program to provide a means of recognising individuals who demonstrate superior knowledge, competency, and in-depth field experience in adopting Agile across an enterprise with the Scaled Agile Framework®.

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Radtac Becomes A Gold Partner With Scaled Agile, Inc.

We are very pleased to announce that Radtac is now a Gold Partner of the Scaled Agile, Inc. Partner program.

Our focus is to provide you with the highest quality training, consulting and coaching to support your Lean-Agile transformation in complex environments, backed by the creators of the SAFe framework® - now featuring the latest updates and information through our partnership.

Increasingly, organisations are questioning themselves: ‘We have got Agile delivery working at the team level, but how do we scale when we have multiple teams with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people working across a Value Stream?’

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