Surviving Scaled Agile – Manage Dependencies

This is the sixth in a series of posts going into more detail around my thoughts on remaining an effective practitioner in scaled Agile – manage dependencies.

To get a wider context of this post, please refer to the original “Surviving Scaled Agile” post outlining the model.

Now that you have teams organised in value streams aligned around an unambiguous vision, you’ll need to work hard to ensure that the flow of work isn’t interrupted due to your dependencies between teams in the value streams.

Esther Derby has a great talk from Nordic Developers Conference on Scaling Agile Teams. In the talk, Esther refers to having representatives at each team boundary to facilitate conversations which will smooth the flow of work between those teams. This representative changes depending on the need or the work being delivered (i.e. it is not a role, it is an activity)

In SAFe itself, dependencies of the work are surfaced during the PI Planning session. These tend to be those dependencies that can be foreseen given the work that needs to be completed (e.g. A reporting application will need a datamart to prove the integration & data flow).

These dependencies are then “managed” in the PI Planning session itself whereby the teams discuss how & when they can deliver dependencies in order to meet the programme objectives for that PI. The outcomes from these conversations are displayed on the Programme Board.

Make sure you get an owner for the Programme Board who will take the information & get it shared with the various teams, otherwise the information goes stale & the exercise is fruitless.

Obviously, dependencies will surface during development which also need managing. These are typically raised in the Scrum of Scrums (or Scrum of Scrum of Scrums…) for information sharing as they may have an impact on the programme vision.

What Next?

  • Surface dependencies as they arise & assign owners to manage those dependencies
  • Frequent integration of code will help dependency management (mega topic!)
  •  Quantify the impact of the dependency on the programme vision