Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) can help you in your organization if you use it the way it is intended. In SAFe, you have the program team that is a relatively lean team consisting of program managers, product managers and solutions architects. On the other side, the delivery teams/squads (product owners, tech team members) out-number the program team.
Therefore, SAFe is really a top-light system. What does this mean?
This means that you need to keep the delivery teams/squads constantly busy without ever falling into a situation where they are waiting for requirements/epics/initiatives to be specified and clearly defined. This can happen if the high-level requirements are produced in smaller increments and if they are groomed with a smooth flow and cadence.
So if your organization is trying to implement SAFe and you still get requirements in huge bulks every 6 months, your single point of failure becomes the program team.
Keep trying but after a while you might as well be truthful to yourselves and realize that this is not working. You are better off admitting that SAFe isn’t for me. You can still have the top part of your organization work in waterfall-ish way when it comes to defining requirements, reviewing requirements, doing the high-level technical design and planning. There is nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, the execution of the plan can be in “agile” fashion that goes well with the microservice architecture if you happen to implement this type of architecture. “Waterfall-ish” is not perfect, but it is still better than fooling yourself into believing that you are running SAFe and you are not.
The important thing is that you don’t really feel as if others are looking down on you because you are not fully implementing the “agile” methodology. What is really “agile”? I prefer to use the word “agility” because it a real noun. Agility is something you make it your own. Do an increment of work, discover what you can improve to go faster and smoother, improve it and repeat the process. Stick to basics.
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