The nasty little secret about the "traditional" waterfall description of Solution Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and all of the Project Management methods that have followed is that it was never supposed to happen. When Winston Royce described what we now recognize as the Waterfall Methodology, he described its failings, the negative impact of that single-pass approach, and the benefits of incremental development. And yet, here we are, nearly 50 years later still thinking that we can solve problems by spending more time in Big Up Front Analysis and Design.
Thirty one years after Royce's paper a group of practitioners gathered in Snowbird, Utah and created the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Principles of Agile Software. This gathering led to a lot of experimentation with delivery methodologies and frameworks including XP, Scrum, Kanban, and many others. While many practitioners appreciated the new way of doing things and saw its value middle and senior managers were unsure of what to make of them for a lot of reasons.
Some people see Agile methodologies as too toucy-feely. Many Agile experts focus on topics such as Culture and People rather than delivery. And while the evidence is strong that when companies invest in their people and when there is a culture of safety that people are more productive, those types of costs and benefits are difficult to quantify.
Others suffer from the misperception that Agile is unplanned. And then there are the questions of "when will this thing be done" and "how do we know if the work is complete" and "how is budgeting handled?"
While the Agile insiders might disagree one some of the details, at a high level there is surprising consistency across Agile frameworks to a lot of those important questions. However, there are very few frameworks that combine thought leadership from a variety of sources and present reasonably concise answers that are meaningful to all levels of the organization.
The Scaled Agile Framework "(SAFe®) is a freely available knowledge base of proven, integrated principles and practices for Lean, Agile, and DevOps." While the Big Picture may be a bit overwhelming at first, it provides a holistic approach for Solution delivery that can be scaled up or down and tailored as needed. Some of the key features of SAFe include:
• Lean Budgeting
• Transparency and Roll-up Statusing
• Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
• Incorporation of leading practices for Delivery, Quality, Compliance/Security, and DevOps
• Complete compliment of regularly updated certiication level educational material
Organizations of any size that are seeking to improve their delivery or are looking to become more agile should strongly consider SAFe. They may eventually decide that another approach will suit them better, but this Framework provides a wide range of potential improvements that are useful even if they not decide to fully adopt the Framework.