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Plutora Blog - Release Management

Using Plutora to Support the Scaled Agile Framework

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post-it-notesEffective development teams understand incremental development and value lightweight process, and most developers working in 2015 deliver software in iterations punctuated by iteration planning meetings or Scrums. Gone are the days of waterfall development and projects that take months-and-months to deliver results.

While most effective organizations have transitioned software development to some form of Agile there are still a few large enterprises that haven’t adapted.  Some highly regulated companies still demand the documentation and strict procedure that accompanies big, up-front software designs, and software development at the largest scale is often hobbled by procedure and process to mitigate risks associated with high assurance, mission critical systems.

If you work for a large company you’ll see pockets of this “old-school” Waterfall process continuing to thrive in release management and production control. For example, despite practicing agile software development, a release process may need to satisfy a production control system more reminiscent of 1995 than 2015.

This is something we’ve seen in the field ourselves – Agile, as practiced by startups and SMBs, doesn’t scale to the largest of enterprises without a comprehensive model of the organization. This is what the Scaled Agile Framework provides.

Enter SAFe – the Scaled Agile® Framework

The Scaled Agile or SAFe framework acts as a bridge between software agility and enterprise reality allowing companies to manage multiple, distributed Agile “value streams” at the portfolio level.  It provides an overall framework for individual teams to move quickly while at the same time giving IT management a framework to manage and measure the results across an entire enterprise.

You can think of SAFe as filling in the gaps for the agile enterprise. Current accepted models for Agile don’t operate at the portfolio level and they don’t support risk management in a way that makes them untenable for the riskiest of projects. SAFe is a framework that gives release management, program portfolio management, DevOps, and system architects a model for collaborating with multiple, independent teams all engaged in low-level agile development. 

It’s this bridge between low-level, iterative development that is widespread and risk management at the portfolio level that is missing in most Agile implementations that both SAFe and Plutora aim to build.  Solve this “final frontier” for Agile is the last step toward applying the vision of Agility at scale.

Enterprise-scale agile practitioners face many questions: How do you manage an agile team if they depend upon and collaborate with teams practicing Waterfall-style development? How do you differentiate between epics for architecture-related changes vs. epics focused on business requirements? How does release management related to the low-level agile software development lifecycle?

Using Plutora to support Scaled Agile

SAFe has an answer for all of these questions, and Plutora is designed to gather the data essential to implementing SAFe.  When you use Plutora in support of SAFe, you’ll gain insights into release trains across multiple teams and programs.  Your program portfolio managers will have a firm grasp on how disparate agile teams are coordinating to achieve a unified release schedule. With an emphasis on reporting and transparency Plutora adds portfolio-wide visibility to Scaled Agile without interrupting Team and Program-level activities.

With Plutora teams can continue to develop on cadence without having to stop to generate reports in support of portfolio-wide coordination efforts.

Agile without SAFe focuses on individual application teams, but that’s not enough to control costs and drive portfolio alignment in a large enterprise. With Plutora: 

  • You can measure teams Agile Release Train metrics against the timeline for releases and facilitate the generation of reports spanning multiple groups.
  • When your release managers convene a release planning event all data will have already been assemble by Plutora. With Plutora, you’ll be automatically generating a Program Board every day without having to get 100 people in a room to create a contrived Wiki page or Spreadsheet
  • SAFe depends on self-assessments.  From release management to release planning metrics, Plutora has been designed to slice and dice activity data from production control, source control, and issue tracking tools such as BMC Remedy and Atlassian JIRA to provide teams with the data they need to quickly create self-assessments.

If you practice SAFe without Plutora you’ll have to create your own process to manage reporting across multiple groups and gauge the status across your portfolio.   When you use SAFe you gain a framework for assessing progress, and when you pair it with Plutora you’ll find a tool that is ready-made to support this process.

Note: Scaled Agile Framework® and SAFe® are trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.


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