About the talk

The nature of collaboration has changed. Agile project management is becoming increasingly critical, but when scaling, you should rely on proven frameworks like SAFe.

However, implementing SAFe with all its features, such as providing reports, visualizing dependencies, and automated documentation, is not always easy in reality.

In this session, we'll show you the benefits of SAFe and how easy it is to implement it in Jira using tools like Agile Hive.

About the author

Peter Weingärtner (SPC) joined Seibert Media in 2018, working as a Sales Consultant ever since. Previously in marketing and publishing, Peter brings a diverse skillset to the table.

He supports agile work with software, especially the Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Enterprises with Atlassian Tools - Agile Hive.
Peter is equipped to provide his expertise in Software Communication and Collaboration.

Watch the talk 👇

"In this session, we'll show you the benefits of SAFe and how easy it is to implement it in Jira using tools like Agile Hive.


This is a transcript of the original talk by Peter Weingärtnera at PM72 Summit organized by Jexo. 👉 Learn more about PM72 Summit: 72-hour Project Management Conference.

Hi, my name is Peter. I'm agile at scale portfolio guy at Seibert Media

with almost 250 great people based in Germany, we're one of the larger Atlassian

partners in the world, I'm very grateful to be able to speak here today and support

fundraising for Malala Fund, thanks Jexo, and thank you for joining, and don't

forget to donate.

So project management itself has significantly changed over the last few

years and become more difficult to grasp, shifting focus from project to product

I wonder if there is even any definition of pm that everyone who is actually

involved in managing projects would agree on no wonder in an ever-changing

a world that's getting faster and faster traditional pm approaches have been

supplemented more often even replaced by lean and agile ways of working

especially when it comes to multi-project management new challenges come up.

While agile has become quite common for teams even in otherwise more

traditional companies, the growing complexity of products and solutions brings

dependencies into the game that need to be tackled and resolved above scrum and

kanban team level.

But, how can we reliably plan and manage large initiatives on one hand and stay

swift and effective on the other the mere idea of being able to define today what

our customers might actually need tomorrow proves to be outdated coming up

with detailed plans of which steps need to be taken when and which resources

might be necessary in each of the phases more and more often turns out to be not

just a waste of time but dangerous and costly if you end up running in the wrong

direction and keep doing so with great manpower but the wrong outcome working

lean and agile at scale reduces that risk and valuable time to market it means

delivering value quickly in small increments allowing for smaller learning cycles

and involving the power of the people by decentralizing decision making

even for large development initiatives proven solutions are at hand the most

famous and successful methodology today is safe the scaled agile framework for

lean enterprises now let's take a look at their website now what it's all about

it wants to align strategy and execution helping large organizations bring

together the need for planning and predictability with iterative and incremental

value delivery in a continuous learning culture safe can adapt to pretty much any

size of the organization as long as there is a need of at least one team of teams on a

the program level, you can benefit from the smallest safe configuration is called

essential save it covers exactly these two levels of programs being executed by so-

called agile release trains consisting of multiple agile teams working together on

the delivery of value based on features if these programs are being managed in a

the portfolio you can add this layer of strategy investment fundings portfolio

operations and lean governance now if your organization does actually build really

large solutions making it necessary for multiple release trains and maybe

suppliers to plan and work together to fulfill the requirements of a value stream

the large solution level helps you scale even further now saves heartbeat is the pi

the program increment it usually is a cadence of the team's prints that spans over

the course of let's say three months or so the pi planning is the major agile event

as everyone involved in a value stream comes together for joint coordination and

the commitment of what value can be delivered in the next increment devs

management and key stakeholders together of course there is loads more to save

that makes the framework so successful and obviously, the companies that really

adopt it the implementation of safe itself is also an incremental process in which

each step builds up on lessons learned from the previous a well-established

implementation roadmap guides organization organizations through this

transition process now when it comes to tooling lots of companies are using Jira to

organize their processes at least in software development right so it seems to be a

no-brainer to keep leveraging Jira's flexibility to implement safe but as Jira was

built as a team tool there is some significant limitations we've seen that save

has a hierarchy that it's based on and that's just not represented in plain

Jira artifacts are missing the nomenclature turns out to be a bit different

while we have sprints on the team level we don't have the same representation on

the program level as program increments whatever you do it's always extensive

configuration is always in Jira which is so cool but you never know how my

scripts update compatible how much work is it to add a new team or even a new

art and there are a few obvious things from the safe framework like way to shortest

job first dependencies safe boards such as the program board that are just not

right there and also Jira is a process management tool and since we're talking

about agile it's all about collaboration and of course collaborating on content

so at last you might have the idea to involve confluence at least we do

well you see with these challenges to really do save in Jira you need

something on top to add to its functionality the most famous tool in the Atlassian

realm right now is Jira align let's take a look at that website

Jira align is a great solution for enterprise agile planning even a leader

Jira align is a standalone software that connects Jira or even multiple team tools if

necessary. Jira align is taking a top-down approach so it's really the perfect

solution for larger, more complex environments with requirements, especially

from strategy including investment funding and tracking multi-tier road mapping

resource allocation and reporting variety it is definitely a very rich and thorough

solution mainly for management whereas the teams can keep working in

their well-known Jira environment since today we're talking more about an

introduction of safe I would like to focus on agile hive our app that simplifies the

implementation of SaFe right in Jira.

It's quite straightforward, takes a bottom-up approach focusing on the agile

planning of programs and the ease of work for the majority of the

people right in the teams now let's take a look at Agile hive

you see, this is the administration just to give you an idea of what Agile hive is

about it's made up of project hierarchies that means that you can remodel the safe

the configuration that you find in your organization right in agile hive

configuration with project hierarchies, you can add the layers that you need in this

case it's a full safe configuration consisting of team program large solution and

portfolio level it depends on what your organization looks like

what which levels you need and you map them to the corresponding safe

level now the elements that you see back here each team each address train in this

case the case this large solution tray in the portfolio they're all individual Jira

projects bringing the entire flexibility of a jira project to each of the levels making

it really flexible as far as uh wording workflows and so on and so forth

the projects can be created quite easily with predefined templates which can be

adjusted to your needs or you can migrate them from existing projects of course

into this hierarchy this is pretty much all that needs to be configured there's a few

more little helpers but this is the base once you've done this all the rest comes

automatic the most obvious thing is the agile hive navigation so you see that it

represents exactly what we've built underneath everyone in the safe context finds

their work a way to work quite easily with that navigation and if there's a new

team or a new art added no problem it will be right there now

let's look at the program level first since i said this is where actually the

power of safe is because usually that's where the features are that are being

delivered if you are let's say a product manager

this might be your playground it's a roadmap where you can plan your

features or enablers as they're called so anything that you might need to plan

on a program level you can put into a timeline

and see how they work together you can drag and drop these items from a

backlog that hides behind this little icon here and you can drag and drop them just

right into your timeline and play around with them as you need

now what's also shown is dependencies between items in this

view and you see if there is for example in this case here features that is that are

really already being worked on you see their progress with this little colored

progress bar also if you need to take milestones into account you can set them up

right here in line and have them visualized by the way they're just an issue type so

we're always talking just plain jira technology when we talk agile hive with

new cool views that help you organize everything now

when you do program or product management you of course need a kandan

in the safe context uh anyways so um there is a workflow that safe introduces

that is being set right in agile hive which you can adjust to your needs

anything that is ready to be worked on and could be planned for the next pi in

the next in the pi planning should be here in the program backlog

now let's move to a pi planning situation and say there is a team

called animation see there's all the views and the teams in the sub menu

and this team animation does a breakout session which is the

team's planning within the pi planning and first off they would

plan their capacity or ask them that they compet their capacity

in story points which can just be put into uh inline here as any number

iteration by iteration save calls sprints iterations by the way

so it's pretty much the same thing once the capacity has been planned by the

team they would usually plan the features so they would pull the

features that have been introduced by product management before from again a

backlog view so they can just open up this tab of that art and see any

unplanned issues and use quick filters to make it easy to really plan the right

things and now they can just drag and drop any feature from this backlog into

their timeline and they will appear as these bluish swim lanes next thing they

would  break the features down into stories either right in the pi planning and

create new stories you see there's this little add button that when i hover over the

iterations so i can create new stories right here and let me do that

now this story for one is being created then it's being planned into iteration

three automatically and it's being linked to the correct feature with the

correct link type automatically as well and now i can re-plan and do all this

stuff by just mere dragging and dragging and dropping if there is more than just

one or my team working on a feature which is quite common in a scaled

environment um there's this little icon here that indicates that there's

more teams working on the same feature in this case when i hover over that icon

you see that there's other teams involved at the moment one and it's

called 2d artists so i know that we might want to address any

dependencies inter team dependencies with that team later on

if you have a backlog already set up for your team and you have pretty fine work

you can also use quick filters off that board to organize your backlog view here

and plan your existing stories right into the uh this view here by dragging and

dropping just like we've seen before now dependencies team dependencies

within one team it's a no-brainer you might not even want to visualize them

but you can so whenever you use that link the correct link

dependencies will be visualized as lines there's a green line that indicates that

everything should be in order this story needs that story to be worked on since

the order is correct the line is green if the two dependent stories are in the

the same iteration, the line becomes yellow telling you well, that might work out

but you better take a closer look at it and you can imagine if I drag this over

the line becomes red letting you know this will not work out you need to

replan of course, within one team that's not really might not be necessary

but it's really cool between teams so let's say I scroll down from my team's

breakout board all the way down I see all the other team's breakout boards

collapsed that are in the same art and do the pi planning together with me

I can open these up I have no writing permissions down here

but I can see any dependencies that have been identified, and now we can

collaborate the two teams can collaborate to get things in order so we can get rid

of any red line towards the end of the pi planning so we can commit on

our draft plans once we have our draft plans ready all the teams come together

with management business owners stakeholders whoever is there during pi

planning on the so-called program board the program board kind of looks the

same one swimlane per team that's involved in the pi planning but now

we're not looking at team issues anymore but features or anything that happens on

program level, and we see each feature that has been planned once, so we have an

the idea of how much we get and we see each feature in the iteration when it

should be delivered based on the current team's planning statuses

if there is any issues that have been linked to a feature but not planned

there is this little exclamation mark telling you there are open child

issues that are not in their current pi now what's also very important here is

so-called significant dependencies that indicate everything that might

risk the uh the delivery of any feature that we have planned they can be

visualized it should be visualized on the program board so for example there is one

bug that obviously needs to be fixed before this feature can be released

it will be shown right in this board but also there could be dependencies between

two features or quite common you might have dependencies that do not just take

place within your art, but you have someone else from the

outside who you depend on for example, there might be this supplier here needing

to deliver some something in order for us to be able to

be able to deliver this feature or a shared service such as marketing

might be involved if you link a feature to any of outside issue with the correct link

type agile hive notices that and adds these Swim lanes with the marker external

and the dependent issues now let's say the pi planning is over, during the course of  

the pi planning we want to keep track of if everything is in order

and if we get the stuff in time so we need to report what you see here is the team

report, we have the team members so we can go ahead and talk to them easily we

have an overall team pi progress as five metrics and we have in the middle section

is print by sprint view that shows me each team issue that has been

planned and their parent issue so we have context on the left hand corner down

here we have the tp objectives they're really important because this is where

business value is being managed in the safe context the pi objectives are an own

issue type they're created by the teams and business owners come by and

put in the planned business value during pi planning and the actual business value

achieved once a system demo is over whether the objective has been met team

risks are also managed right here again an own issue type following a

workflow that follows the idea  which is being used in the safe context

standing for resolved, owned, accepted, and mitigated the probably more

an important report is the art report because, again this is where delivery usually

takes place now this is an art report. It kind of looks the same again the

important people up here the same metrics as on team level but aggregated

from all the teams of that art and in the middle section now we're looking at the

features as that's the deliverables and we see each features progress in

percent and story points and we see the involvement of each of the teams of my

art so in this case let's see there is a team called level design and obviously

they have planned 63 story points towards the delivery of that feature but

they have done zero up until today so we might check whether there's a whether

there's anything we need to do then we have rp objectives formulated by

the release train engineer which is the kind of the scrum master

for the entire program out of the tpi objectives and we have risks on this level up

on the program level that can be um managed here treated and um

yeah we can see what their initial exposure was and what the residual exposure

might be after we treat them now let's go up two levels and skip the large solution

level and look at the portfolio level the portfolio report is really straightforward

because we do not even look at pis anymore because portfolio epics that's the

really  large initiatives that might span over multiple pis and maybe even multiple

years but we have a basic understanding of what's going on

and again, we have a kanban for the lean portfolio management to work with

now portfolio epics usually cost a lot of time cost a lot of money we really want

to make sure we want to do them so there needs to be a lot of collaboration

to take place to understand whether it's worthwhile to work on an epic or not

and this is where I would like to show you an interaction between jira and

confluence brought to you by agile hive let's say you created a new portfolio

epic you give it an epic owner we could put it in the description and

now we see how the weight is choice job first comes into play in agile hive

there's the Fibonacci numbers that you can use here to put

in any of the parameters of the weightless shortest job first such as

job size user business value and so on and so forth if you have any idea when

creating the the portfolio optic you can put in the numbers already here

and create that now you see this has been created and it ends up in the funnel

status which is found in the backlog now i open this in a new tab and you see it's

just a plain issue with a few custom fields and automatically calculated weighted

shorter strip first including the cost of delay and you see this link there's a

link that appears here now when i follow this in a new tab you see that it takes me

to a conference page with which has been created automatically by me creating the

Jira issue for the portfolio epic in jira in confluence there has been um

this page been created based on the documentation are for a portfolio topic of safe

including the epic hypothesis statement the way the storage shop first lean

business case and so on and so forth but this is just a template you can know

have it look like whatever you need, and this is just an example of how  the auto

page, which is the functionality creating this page automatically is called how that

works there's a few things that can even stay in sync such as dates or

statuses or people and other things that can be taken over into confluence uh

once by creation so it's really handy and now this page can follow the jira

epic or not the portfolio epic in jira along throughout its entire life cycle

and you can use you know all the great stuff from confluence such as uh

comments inline comments sharing options watching options and the

perfect page history yeah i think this is enough for tooling today

I would be happy if you have any questions or need help that you

come up to me and contact me there's the possibility to

schedule a meeting with me we have quite some experience and grant

partners to address safe methodology and tooling with the agile hive and Jira line

and whatever you do and who you will work within your scaled agile

transformation make sure you look at the methodology and tooling as two sides of

the same coin because after all you need to closely involve a lot of people and they

alone are the real key to success so thank you very much thanks Jexo and

stay safe