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How an Agile/Scrum Environment Can Help You and Your Employees

How to Form a Truly Agile Business

How an Agile/Scrum Environment Can Help You and Your Employees

An agile/scrum environment in your company could very well be your key to success. Learn more with some actionable tips and advice from our experts.

Keyword(s): agile/scrum environment

A wise man once said the only constant is change, and this is true in business as well. And with an agile work environment, you and your team members can respond to change quickly. You can’t risk falling behind your competition.

Don’t worry if you’re not really sure what an agile/scrum environment is, we’re going to give you all the information you need to keep up with the changing market. Keep reading to learn how you can use this key process can improve your productivity and efficiency.

What Is an Agile Work Environment?

As the world becomes more digital, more companies are adopting agile than not, especially here in the UK. Your company needs to be able to adjust to quickly changing markets and trends, by using agile techniques you can ensure your ability to keep up.

But what is agile? Simply put, creating an agile environment can mean more of a culture and mindset change than anything else.

By adopting an agile work environment you can ensure that your team is able to respond in an agile manner.

Everyone from the CEO down needs to buy into the idea of working together, seeing the need for change, and adapting quickly. This ideology was first introduced by software developers almost two decades ago.

An agile work environment is more of a philosophy of values and principles over a set framework you must follow.

When your team knows your values and principles clearly, they can make decisions about how to do their work. This will allow you to free up time spent micromanaging your team.

Many businesses have spent years developing their business plan. Then they spend years trying to follow this plan, even if it means not adjusting to the market or demands of their customers. When you can respond to change and collaborate with your customers, your business will officially be agile.

It doesn’t have as much to do with creating user stories or insisting on daily stand up meetings, these can be great tools to enable your agile environment but they are not the agile definition. These come up as you create your Scrum framework.

What Is the Scrum Framework?

Used in conjunction with the values from the agile manifesto, the Scrum framework is the how-to manual for creating your workflow. If you’re struggling with successful project management and stagnant productivity then the scrum process can help you scale your results for improved productivity.

First, in the Scrum work process, everyone knows their role and how they can contribute to the overall goals and objectives. Whether your company sets official goals, KPIs, or OKRs, the acronym doesn’t matter. What matters is that everyone on your team can articulate what they are and how they can help accomplish them.

Second, as you’re creating your scrum workflow you will need to define your time box. Will you work in sprints or use a Kanban-style time frame. Again, this doesn’t matter as much as keeping everyone on the same page and working at the same pace. Many software companies adopt two-week sprints with daily stand up meetings to build in accountability.

Finally, after the sprint is done, everyone needs to participate in a sprint review of both the final shippable product as well as their work process. Changes are made based on what the team learns throughout their sprint and in the review process.

Benefits of Building This Agile/Scrum Environment for Your Team

Whether you work in a small business or a large corporation, creating a solid team and incorporating team bonding is vital to growing a successful agile business.

Some benefits include:

  • Respond more quickly to change
  • More accurately plan and track your activity
  • Establish your priorities
  • Ensure everyone is on the same page

An agile work environment that uses the scrum method gives your group of employees more control and ownership over their daily activities. One of the biggest complaints of workers today is that they aren’t given clear direction and not receiving constructive criticism.

For you to avoid these types of complaints, allow your team members to have a say in the key objectives within your business. Then allow them to choose the projects that resonate the most with them. Use your daily scrum meetings to offer suggestions and encouragement as they work towards the companies objectives.

Learn from your work sprints and allow your team members to take control of their own goals and sprints. Everyone benefits from a collaborative and agile work environment.

Your Key to Success for You and Your Employees

As you can see, many businesses in many industries are adopting the agile/scrum environment for their culture and workflow. For both the agile mindset and scrum workflow to be successful, they will require buy-in and ownership from everyone in the organization. Without this full buy-in, you won’t see the culture change you need to be successful.

Don’t let the simplicity of these two systems fool you into thinking they’re easy to implement or master. No longer are businesses spending months and months creating long business plans written in stone. Instead, startups are creating philosophies by which everyone can make their decisions while they are developing and working on the shippable product.

If you want to learn more about developing your own agile/scrum environment for your work team, contact us today. We specialize in transforming your planning process improving your productivity and execution cycles.

Renewing Your SAFe® Certification

Renewing Your SAFe Certification

If you have SAFe® Certification and you wonder how to renew your certification, you should check this blog post.

Keyword(s): renewing SAFe certification

What is SAFe®?

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) is an entire methodology for large-scale Agile project teams to hold out an Agile transformation seamlessly. SAFe is an agile framework designed to offer a structure for software development and enhancement in a predictable and steady manner. It offers a simple and light-weight experience for development group allowing them to embed their agile work practices into a framework which could be scaled to an enterprise level.

By attending SAFe training programs you will acquire an understanding of the Lean-Agile mindset and how to apply the ideas and practices of SAFe to assist Agile teams, programs, program portfolio management, and to coordinate massive Value Streams. SAFe encompasses roles, practices and steering for the adoption of the framework for an IT project. In simple words, the ultimate objective of SAFe is to simply allow multiple agile development teams to offer what business wants, when it wants, with regular and frequent releases. SAFe® is essentially the most extensively adopted enterprise Agile approach according to most survey data, with 33% using it.

As increasingly more organizations look to scale Agile, be one of many select group of professionals who've a SAFe certification to back-up their hands-on experience. Now for presenting your Agile skills and experience, one highly recommended certification is the SAFe or Scaled Agile Framework.

SAFe® Exam Details

The Scaled Agile Framework offer several certifications. To acquire these certifications you should attend the exam. The exam format is Multiple Choice, Multiple Select and examinees have to answer 45 questions for a duration of 90 minutes (1.5 hours). There is no break once you start with the exam.

Candidates can access the exam only within the SAFe Community Platform. The exam is strictly web-based, single browser with no outside assistance allowed. The format of SAFe exam for all certifications is the same, the only difference being in the passing percentage and prerequisites. Passing score for each certification is different and it ranges from 73%-77%, i.e. to get SAFe certification you should answer 33 to 35 questions accurately based on the SAFe examination you are taking. Language of the exam is English only.

Below are the certifications offered by the Scaled Agile Framework.

  • Implementing SAFe
  • Leading SAFe
  • SAFe for Teams
  • SAFe Scrum Master
  • SAFe Advanced Scrum Master
  • SAFe Release Train Engineer
  • SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager
  • SAFe DevOps
  • SAFe for Government
  • Agile Software Engineering
  • SAFe for Architects
  • Lean Portfolio Management
  • Agile Product Management

Renewing SAFe® certifications

Please keep in mind that all SAFe® certifications are only valid for one year. When your renewal time comes, you'll get an official e-mail from Scaled Agile to renew the certificates. You will have to renew your SAFe certifications after one year, by paying the renewal fee. The renewal cost associated with each SAFe certificate is different.

Course Certification Renewal Fee
Leading SAFe® SAFe® Agilist $100
SAFe® DevOps SAFe® DevOps Practitioner $100
SAFe® for Teams SAFe® Practitioner $100
SAFe® Scrum Master SAFe® Scrum Master $100
SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager SAFe® Product Owner/Product Manager $100
SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master $100
SAFe® Release Train Engineer SAFe® Release Train Engineer $295
SAFe® for Government SAFe® Government Practitioner $100
SAFe® Agile Software Engineer SAFe® Agile Software Engineer $100
Implementing SAFe® SAFe® Program Consultant $895
SAFe® for Architects SAFe® Architect $100
Lean Portfolio Management Lean Portfolio Manager $295
Agile Product Management SAFe® Agile Product Manager $295

You can know more about the cost and benefits of renewing the certifications here.

If you need help or more information about how to renew your certification, please contact us. As Agile Center, we are silver training partner of Scaled Agile Inc (SAI).

How to Form a Truly Agile Business

How to Form a Truly Agile Business

How to Form a Truly Agile Business

An agile business is one that can properly embrace the agile methodology, rather than just loosely imitate it. Learn the difference here.

Keyword(s): agile business

Modern business is all about doing things faster. This includes finding trends sooner, making decisions quickly, getting your products to market faster, and even making mistakes more often.

However, it’s impossible to become a more agile and faster organisation just by wanting to. There are specific actions you must take to prepare you and your team for this transformation.

If you want to create an agile business, it takes time, effort, and an understanding of the process. To become truly agile, be sure to use the tips and information found here.

Achieve a Better Balance

It is essential to balance the act of running a business and changing it to deliver value and sustain growth. As your business develops and grows, you may see it struggle with capacity, with less time available for improvement and innovation.

It’s up to you to ensure a balance is maintained between daily activities and making time for ongoing development and improvement throughout the organisation.

With agile business, you embrace change and have a methodology to help manage it. Being agile is accepting that changes will occur.

Plans are implemented in a flexible manner to respond to changes occurring and to allow for ongoing improvement. The agile mindset will embrace change and a potential and opportunity for growth and learning.

Be Willing to Delegate

To gain agility across all business functions, you must delegate operational control to frontline workers. It also means you must invest in ongoing training for these individuals to ensure they can continue to do a good job.

You can’t control how your business is functioning from backstage and expect to achieve agility. If you want your teams to evolve and become agile, you (the leader) must create an environment where agility will thrive.

Create Focus

It’s easy to become distracted by a seemingly never-ending list of priorities. Also, with the everyday distractions and emergencies that pop up, remaining focused is a real challenge.

You can create this focus by narrowing down your priorities to a list that consists of just three to four things that have to get done. When you complete something, add another task to the list.

Give Yourself Some Room to Grow

Remember that agile is a learning-based method. It builds continuous improvement into your daily workflow. Be sure to add slack time for you to improve and respond to any changing circumstances.

With agile, you should have time to think, experiment, and reflect in your process. It also gives you the structure necessary to make small yet iterative improvements. With agile, you have a process that integrates change regularly, regardless of if external or internal forces drive it.

Agile offers you a method to manage, analyse, and support your current practices in your business. It helps you make time to review existing approaches and to identify the bottlenecks, issues, and blocks that may limit your business. With this, your team can optimise and improve working practices through reflection and learning.

Engage Your Team

If you want to implement an agile workforce successfully, you must ensure your team is on-board. Many initiatives fail simply because they don’t engage the people who are expected to change.

People won’t take part in a project if they have no reason to change. Change isn’t hard if you know what is expected and why it is so important.

If you need help convincing your team to embrace this change, there are several strategies you can implement.

Pathbreakers

Use this method for exploring uncharted territories. If you want to become a thought leader who is the first to do something in a new way, you must ensure your team can relate to and aspire to your reasoning for the approach you have chosen.

David vs. Goliath

This strategy is useful if you want to overtake your main competition and become the undisputed leader in the market segment. If your field is dominated by one or several leaders, this is a smart method to use.

Burning Platform

Is the existence of your business threatened? If you fail to change, will you be a distant memory? This method of communication works well when there is imminent danger, and you need to encourage your employees to care about survival.

Implement Methods of Continuous Innovation

If your business doesn’t continue to innovate, it will be left behind – quickly. Rather than only rolling out new and innovative services and products from time to time, make this a continuous process.

When you do this, your customers and the bottom line will benefit.

Think Big and Act Small

If you want to be agile, it means you must test and validate your solutions early. Releasing viable solutions for your feedback offers vital information to help develop and evolve the idea into a solution that meets new needs and demands.

Agile works to make sure the right thing is created, and that thing is built through tested development.

Are You Creating an Agile Business?

As you can see, there are some clear and necessary steps you must follow as you create an agile business. While the process takes time and effort, it is a process you must get your entire team on board with.

If you need more information or help to create an agile business, contact us. Our team is focused on helping businesses of all types and sizes achieve the agile goals they have and continue meeting the evolving needs of their new agile business.

The Many Benefits of SAFe DevOps

The Many Benefits of SAFE DevOps

The Many Benefits of SAFe DevOps

Are you curious about the many benefits of SAFe DevOps? If that's the case, you've come to the right place. Click for more!

Keyword(s): SAFe DevOps

Software companies are under tremendous pressure to deliver fast and do it effectively.

Their best shot at doing this is SAFe DevOps. You can think of it is a recipe for strengthening organizations from within and thriving in the competitive and disruptive market.

More specifically, the practice enables companies to optimize the value stream from concept to cash, as well as to gear delivery pipeline to their business needs. Done right, it brings operations and development closer together and eradicates silos.

Generating value in response to business demand becomes an attainable reality instead of an elusive dream. You are able to deploy valuable solutions continuously and with superior confidence.

Here is how you can benefit from this approach in practice.

A Match Made in Agile Heaven

DevOps model is the heart and soul of high-performing IT companies.

It equips them with tools for deploying more frequently and cuts lead times. What is more, the DevOps approach is involved with fewer failures and faster failure recovery.

Another major benefit is it makes the lines between development and operations become less apparent. There is less friction between the two core areas.

This is all due to clear and shared standards. Development teams are evaluated based on the value they bring to end-users. On the other hand, service management is tasked with preserving the health of the production environment.

Hence, DevOps practice is integral to modern value streams and the SAFe framework. In turn, key SAFe principles and concepts directly support DevOps. We’re talking about small batch sizes, system thinking, short iterations, early feedback, etc.

Not only that, but DevOps greatly benefits from Continuous Delivery Pipeline and 10 SAFe Lean-Agile Principles.

Nuts and Bolts of SAFe DevOps

DevOps is more than a set of practices.

It’s also a distinct mindset and culture. For real transformation to take place, all these components have to go hand-in-hand.

First off, you have to foster collaboration and communication between all teams. Ideally, this aspiration materializes across the value stream, from planning to release.

Two other main objectives of SAFe DevOps adoption are to eliminate silos and deliver valuable features to end-users.

The way to accomplish them is via supercharging Agile Release Train (ART) and Solution Train. These two constructs hinge on the automated flow process called Continuous Delivery Pipeline.

This pipeline has four elements:

  • Continuous Exploration (CE)
  • Continuous Integration (CI)
  • Continuous Deployment (CD)
  • Release on Demand

All of them empower SAFe organizations to meet their business needs. The focus is on automating and developing the pipeline and reaping the following benefits:

  • Boosting quality and frequency of deployment
  • Faster time to market
  • Increasing the Mean Time to Delivery (MTTR)
  • More risk-taking and experimentation
  • Shortening the lead time for doing fixes
  • Making release failures less common and impactful

In the next sections, we’ll show you how to obtain these benefits.

Cultural Foundations

It’s imperative to understand SAFe takes a CALMR approach to DevOps.

CALMR stands for culture, automation, lean flow, measurement, and recovery. It’s worth examining each of these aspects in a bit more detail.

So, first off, we have a cultural element, which emphasizes shared responsibility.

These values echo the Lean-Agile philosophy. Essentially, every SAFe principle (#1-#10) is applicable to DevOps. This kind of culture calls for a few supporting pillars.

Perhaps the most important one is an ongoing collaboration between Agile and IT operations.

This collaboration requires risk tolerance for failure, which supports experimentation and recovery. On the other hand, self-service infrastructures maintain the autonomy of development and deployment. Finally, knowledge sharing must exist and enable teams to exchange ideas and tools.

Process Automation

Furthermore, SAFe upholds the “automate everything” mindset.

Automation lays the groundwork for initiating consistent and repeatable processes. It replaces manual flows that are perceived as enemies of productivity, safety, and fast delivery.

The main benefits of automation come in the form of resource and time savings. Moreover, it renders processes such as testing, source code compiling, and deployment more reliable. They become an established routine, which can be easily improved upon.

On top of that, organizations that automate the pipeline have a chance to better respond to market demand and bolster internal learning capacity.

Principles of Lean Flow

Pipeline automation also promotes fast Lean Flow.

This flow is continuous and fast-tracks movement of new features from the concept stage to market-readiness. Here, the marriage of SAFe and DevOps depends on principle #6 of the former methodology.

These principles are:

  • Visualize and limit WIP
  • Reduce batch sizes
  • Manage queue lengths

They all tie into system thinking, which is the second principle of SAFe Lean-Agile principles. The end goal of their integration should be the long-term process of pipeline fine-tuning.

Teams can eliminate bottlenecks, reduce variability, and minimize batch transaction costs.

Measuring Everything

DevOps environment makes problem resolution less arduous.

Changes occur in regular intervals and smaller batches. Organizations can properly evaluate these frequent changes thanks to Telemetry. This automated process gathers data on solution performance in real-time.

Data pertains both to technological and business performance. It has to be transparent, visualized, and available to everyone.

Under these three conditions, teams can easily detect patterns and obstacles. Resolution is faster too because there’s no need to wait for troubleshooting and fixing to complete.

Fast Recovery

Lastly, we come across recovery from operational failure, a major indicator of DevOps maturity.

This capability depends on system design, which is tailored to low-risk releases and service-based deployment. The release process itself has to be flexible and rooted in Release on Demand concept.

Moving on, notice here are various techniques that support fast recovery. We would like to highlight three of them:

  • Planning for and rehearsing failures
  • Ramping up the capacity to roll back or fix forward
  • Embracing stop-the-line mentality

The combination of these techniques allows businesses to quickly deal with problems with the pipeline or solution. They add improvements and built-in resilience to the system over time and decrease the risk of problems emerging again.

All Systems Go

SAFe DevOps puts an end to the outdated silo approach.

In its place, the approach builds a working and empowering environment. There are numerous benefits you can score with successful implementation.

Start the endeavor by nurturing the right kind of business culture and adopting a CALMR approach to DevOps. Remove delivery inefficiency and organizational tension from the equation. Automate the Continuous Delivery Pipeline and refine its processes.

Strive to identify problems proactively and recover from failure faster. Following these steps, you'll achieve a state of continuous flow and keep the production running smoothly.

Get in touch with us to enroll in online SAFe courses. It’s time to take your game to the next level and delight end users.

Lean Portfolio Management: What Is the Primary Focus?

Lean Portfolio Management: What Is the Primary Focus?

Lean Portfolio Management: What Is the Primary Focus?

When it comes to lean portfolio management, what is the primary focus? If you're asking yourself the same thing, simply click here today!

Keyword(s): lean portfolio management

By 2025, the global market for online training will have reached $300 billion in value.

With the continuing proliferation of information technology, more and more people are turning to their computers as a source of instruction on various topics. Those seeking greater business acumen in the software development space are no different.

Lean Portfolio Management is a concept that has gained importance over the years. Now, you can learn its principles through online training courses.

Read on to learn more about the application of the concept in the modern world of commerce.

What Is Portfolio SAFe?

Lean Portfolio Management is one element of a broader software development management approach known as Portfolio SAFe.

SAFe stands for Scaled Agile Framework. This concept refers to workflow patterns that allow managers to take management concepts that work on a micro-level. They can then scale them up for use across multiple teams.

SAFe management principles are applicable in a range of different disciplines.

Those that can benefit from our instruction here include solution architects, system architects, scrum managers, and more.

Along with Lean Portfolio Management, SAFe consists of the Continuous Learning Culture Competency and the Organizational Agility competency.

What Is Lean Portfolio Management?

Lean Portfolio Management refers to the alignment of strategy and execution. This is important, as it is something that executives frequently fail to do. The consequences of a shortcoming here can be disastrous for businesses.

The idea arises from the general concept of Lean principles. These principles were first outlined by Mary and Tom Poppendieck in 2003.

There are seven broad principles, which we've outlined here.

Eliminate Waste

Elimination of waste is a key consideration in all areas of business. In the SAFe framework, "waste" refers to anything that does not add value for the customer.

Elimination of such waste is achieved by avoiding task switching and relearning, and leaving no work partially done.

Amplify Learning

Because software development is a continuous process, constant learning is essential. When writing code, you can achieve learning amplification through short iteration cycles and continuous testing.

The goal of software development is the function, rather than adherence to pre-arranged guidelines. Therefore, the continuous accumulation of new information from testing is vital to the process.

Decide as Late as Possible

There is always a degree of uncertainty associated with software development. For this reason, it is beneficial to delay decisions until the latest possible moment.

This ties in with the use of short iteration cycles. The greater the number of iterations, the more frequent the feedback, and the better able developers and testers are to address shortcomings in the development framework.

Deliver as Fast as Possible

Software continues to develop at speed.

Because of this competition to come up with solutions first, a development business must always focus on haste. It is no use coming up with a brilliant software solution if your rivals come up with something equally as good first.

This ties in with the practice of using short iteration cycles. It is better to finish something quickly and have more time to address the resulting defects than to do it slowly and have less time to see to them.

Empower the Team

As the business world modernizes, there has been an increasing focus on the devolvement of responsibility to individual workers. This ethos has begun to replace the traditional framework whereby a single manager told each employee exactly what to do, and how to do it.

The advantage of this is flexibility. When individual operatives have the authority and skill to make important decisions without input from a manager, this streamlines the process.

Build Integrity In

Integrity is something that is key to every business. If your customers can't trust what you offer them, they won't be willing to do business with you in the future.

There are a number of ways to cultivate integrity as a software developer. One of the most important is transparency.

Your customers may have little or no understanding of software. If you make the effort to explain your processes to them, they will appreciate this.

This is significant in terms of pricing. Customers appreciate the opportunity to see how their money is being spent. It also assures them that you're not ripping them off.

Optimize the Whole

For your Lean Portfolio Management to succeed, you have to take a holistic approach. This means working out difficulties in relation to the interactions between different parts of your business, rather than just within the parts themselves.

How To Apply Lean Principles in Your Software Development Business Dealings

These principles are quite general in nature. You will need to customize them so that they apply to your business.

Many software development outfits are start-ups. Such companies have little market exposure or experience, and will, therefore, have to address challenges as they come up.

In one company, the challenge might be to upskill all employees in such a way that they can address significant issues. For another, it might be working on the approach to transparency so that customer confidence is maximized.

Find your weakest points and work on them first.

Streamlining Your Approach to Maximize Your Results

Portfolio management in the modern-day and age presents a unique set of challenges. In order to succeed in software development, or in any other type of business, you'll need to learn to get around these efficiently.

Lean Portfolio Management, as part of the broader Portfolio SAFe framework, can help you to do this.

If you're interested in an online, instructor-led course to educate your workforce in these principles, contact us today.

Agile Center

Agile Center provides consultancy and training services in the following areas: Lean-Agile Transformation, Agile Strategy audit & implementation and Agile Program/Portfolio management.

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