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

a1qa-articles
31 January 2023,
by a1qa
5 min read
Best of 2022 by executives: 8 most visited a1qa blog posts
Let’s look back and revisit the most visited a1qa articles of 2022!
Quality assurance
Test automation
qa-trends
12 January 2023,
by a1qa
4 min read
The future of software testing: top 4 impactful trends that will dominate in 2023
Consider the major industry trends for the upcoming year to know how to improve current QA strategies and stay ahead of the curve.
QA trends
Quality assurance
Test automation
test-automation
7 December 2022,
by Dileep Marway
3 min read
Release at pace with test automation: What, why, and how to measure success?
An automation-first approach is key to enhancing testing capabilities and increasing overall operational efficiency. However, I would suggest justifying its implementation, so that it can deliver the promised value.
Quality assurance
Test automation
what-is-a-culture-of-happiness
2 December 2022,
by Dileep Marway
3 min read
What is a сulture of happiness for a QA company?
Great culture drives employee engagement and satisfaction, contributes to an impressive work output, and improves organisational performance. But how do we build a culture of happiness? In this blog, I will share more on the answer to this.
Quality assurance
agile-qa
30 November 2022,
by Dileep Marway
3 min read
Agile QA – what is needed for greater flexibility and speed?
What should your QA team focus on to become truly agile, enable quality at speed, and contribute to lasting performance improvement? In addition to introducing test automation, I suggest considering shared responsibility for software soundness.
Agile
Quality assurance
interview-with-dileep
28 November 2022,
by a1qa
9 min read
Interview with Dileep Marway on a series of articles “Agility and speed: Supercharging your business strategies with QA”
We cooperated with the VP of Engineering and Quality at SHL to present you with a series of his blog posts on: culture of happiness, test automation, and Agile-driven QA. Happy reading!
Agile
Quality assurance
Software lifecycle QA
Test automation
optimizing-budget-with-qa
31 October 2022,
by a1qa
4 min read
Optimizing telecom budgets with QA outsourcing: everything you need to know. Part 2 
Welcome to Part 2 of our blog on QA outsourcing and optimizing telecom budget with it. Let’s delve deeper into the topic!
QA trends
Quality assurance
optimizing-budget-with-qa
27 October 2022,
by a1qa
4 min read
Optimizing telecom budgets with QA outsourcing: everything you need to know. Part 1
Learn how to optimize telecom’s quality assurance expenses by relying on a trusted QA partner.
QA trends
Quality assurance
qa-trends-in-telecom
30 September 2022,
by a1qa
5 min read
4 telecom trends for 2023 and how to painlessly implement them with QA
It’s time to explore the telecom trends for the upcoming year. Let’s look at them together and also see the value that QA brings for their smooth deployment.
Cybersecurity testing
Migration testing
QA trends
Quality assurance
Test automation

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.