Blog

Scaled agile framework: levels of implementation

The 3-Level SAFe is implemented at the following levels: team, program and portfolio. Let’s focus on each of them focusing on what is relevant for the software tester involved.
27 March 2017
Agile
Quality assurance
The article by Vitaly Prus
Head of testing department at a1qa

We started talking about Scaled Agile Framework that helps to apply agile methodology across large development teams. SAFe is usually implemented on three levels. 4-Level SAFe is applied when there are hundreds of practitioners involved.

As for us, we’ve been working with 3-Level SAFe and will talk about it.

The 3-Level SAFe is implemented at the following levels: team, program and portfolio. Let’s focus on each of them focusing on what is relevant specifically for QA consulting practice and software testers involved.

Portfolio level

We’ll start with the portfolio level, which is the highest level of concern in SAFe and is the scope of responsibility of the organization’s management staff.

A portfolio is a number of value streams. Value streams budgeting and implementation is discussed at the portfolio level. A Backlog with Business Epics is generated at this level. Software testing and developing teams have nothing to do here so we won’t dwell on it a lot.

Team level

At the team level we deal with traditional agile teams and Scrum processes many of you are aware of. There is a backlog with user stories. When planning a sprint, teams define work and efforts necessary to meet their sprint obligations. Once the two-week sprint is over, the team meets for Sprint Review, or Demo, and demonstrates some scope of functioning software that can be released. Daily meeting also take place.

At the end of every iteration agile teams meet for Iteration Retrospective where they discuss what has been done well, what has not and what ways for improvement can be found. It’s worth mentioning, that developers and QA work side by side to deliver working software of the release quality. As you see, the process is the same as it’s in Scrum. The difference is that the sprint duration is restricted to 2 weeks.

Program level

The program level is where most of the SAFe differences from Scrum lie. First of all, the size of the development team is larger. The whole team is made up of the usual sprint teams that are applied to the ongoing development mission. The whole team in SAFe is called Team of Teams and can be composed of 50-125 specialists.

The goal of the team is to deliver a Potentially Shippable Increment. “Potentially Shippable” is about the quality of the software, not its marketability. It should be free of defects and possess release quality. PSI is delivered during five sprints.

With every next PSI, end product gets more value. Value in SAFe is delivered by Agile Release Trains (ARTs), which is one of the center concepts in SAFe. The more products are delivered at the organization, the more ARTs there will be. In our project there was only one release train.

ARTs: why such a metaphor? Let us make it clear.

Imagine that you are the customer and you have to get from Prague to Moscow by plane. To reach the final destination, you’ll have to tackle some risks and restrictions. You have to choose between the offered data options and align your timetable. You also have to purchase the flight ticket in advance and book a place on the plane.

A plane is said to be the most convenient means of transportation, but it isn’t free of risks either. The luggage can be lost, the flight can be delayed. Of course, it will take time to overcome any of them. In brief, you can’t be sure that you’ll reach the destination when you’ve planned to. This is exactly what stakeholders feel when the product is developed incrementally.

Now let’s imagine another situation. You travel by metro and have to get from one end station on line to the other. You go underground, buy a ticket and take a train. You don’t have to make any preparations beforehand and you are sure that you’ll get to the required station at the time needed because trains come and go regularly. Having missed one train, you’ll take another one in a couple of minutes.

The latest example describes the ARTs’ work perfectly well.

They deliver value regularly (cycles of 5 sprints). As a result, it becomes easier to explain the stakeholders that features that haven’t been implemented in this sprint, will be implemented in the next one. The development process gets more predictability and the product development lifecycle shrinks. The customer should be calm and satisfied as s/he is aware that the release deadline won’t be missed and the end product will look like it was intended to.

So these are the basics of each level in SAFe viewed by the QA team. Next week we’ll answer the question: what are the key differences in product development in Scrum and in SAFe?

If you have any questions left, drop us a line in comments.

More Posts

Agile and DevOps in eCommerce QA_mini
30 September 2021,
by a1qa
5 min read
Agile and DevOps: Boosting the quality of eCommerce apps
What benefits do Agile and DevOps bring to eCommerce business, and how QA helps with that? Find it out in the article.
Agile
Quality assurance
AR/VR testing infographics mini
30 August 2021,
by a1qa
< 1 min read
AR/VR testing in retail: turning challenges into opportunities
Welcome to read the infographic on AR/VR in retail: new shopping experiences, issues, and how to address them with QA.
Quality assurance
Agile article mini
15 July 2021,
by a1qa
4 min read
How to handle the uncertainty with Agile: three-phase game plan
With the instability taking place even now, we are highlighting 3 steps to address uncertainty issues through Agile and deliver high-quality software.
Agile
12 April 2021,
by a1qa
5 min read
Watch out for 6 telecom trends and QA tips to implement them
In our article, we unleash the upcoming telecom trends and reveal how to be certain in introducing them correctly by applying QA practices.
Agile
Test automation
18 December 2020,
by a1qa
4 min read
Top 5 QA and software testing trends in 2021: responding to a global situation with ease
Rapidly approaching 2021, a1qa proposes to have a closer look at the most influential trends empowering QA teams to perform even more effectively.
Agile
QA trends
Test automation
6 October 2020,
by Dmitry Tishchenko
4 min read
A clear view of smart team scalability
Get to know how to scale your team sagely and gratify end-user needs and fast-paced tech-market requirements.
Agile
Quality assurance
14 September 2020,
by a1qa
4 min read
Winning the competition: how to accelerate time to market
The current global situation has boosted the digital transformation of many processes and operations. Get more information on how to be ahead of competitors by speeding the delivery time.
Agile
Test automation
6 August 2020,
by Elena Yakimova
5 min read
How to arrange fruitful joint work with an outsourcing QA team
The head of the web apps testing department sheds light on how to establish more transparent and effective work on the project cooperating with a remote QA team.
Quality assurance
4 June 2020,
by Vitaly Prus
4 min read
SAFe vs. Scrum, and PI planning essentials
Let's shed some light on the SAFe differences from Scrum that are to be considered by the development and QA teams who have migrated from Scrum.
Agile
Quality assurance

Get in touch

Please fill in the required field.
Email address seems invalid.
Please fill in the required field.
We use cookies on our website to improve its functionality and to enhance your user experience. We also use cookies for analytics. If you continue to browse this website, we will assume you agree that we can place cookies on your device. For more details, please read our Privacy and Cookies Policy.