The primary responsibilities of this collaboration include coordinating value streams, supporting program execution and driving operational excellence, in part through Communities of Practice (CoPs), a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE), and other activities.
Coordinate Value Streams
Although many value streams operate independently, cooperation among a set of solutions can provide some portfolio-level capabilities and benefits that competitors can’t match. Indeed, in some cases, this is the ultimate goal: to offer a set of differentiated solutions in which new integrated capabilities may emerge to respond to expanding end-user patterns. This cooperation is described further in the Value Stream Coordination article.
Support Program Execution
Many enterprises have discovered that centralized decision-making and traditional mindsets can undermine the move to Lean-Agile practices. As a result, some enterprises have abandoned the PMO approach, distributing all the responsibilities to ARTs and Solution Trains. However, many organizations are better served by redesigning the traditional PMO to become an Agile PMO (APMO). After all, the people in the PMO have specialized skills, knowledge, and relationships with managers, executives and other key stakeholders that are extremely useful in changing ways of working.
Moreover, they know how to get things done. Working with them is far more productive than working against them. Transforming the traditional PMO to an APMO, and getting them on board to adopt SAFe, is critical.
The APMO often takes on additional responsibilities as part of the ‘sufficiently powerful coalition for change.’ In this expanded role, they usually:
- Sponsor and communicate the change vision
- Participate in the rollout (some members may even deliver training)
- Lead the move to objective milestones and Lean-Agile budgeting
- Foster more Agile contracts and leaner Supplier and Customer partnerships
The LPM function—working through the APMO and Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE)—can help develop, harvest, and apply successful program execution patterns across the portfolio. In many organizations, the Release Train Engineer (RTEs) and Solution Train Engineers STEs) are part of the APMO, where they can share best practices, common program measures, and standard reporting. In other cases, they report into the development organization.
Drive Operational Excellence
LPM—or, by proxy, the APMO—also has a leadership role in helping the organization improve and achieve its business goals relentlessly. This leadership is often supported by a persistent LACE. The LACE may be a standalone group or part of the APMO that provides suggestions on how to integrate SAFe practices. The APMO may also sponsor and support Communities of Practice (CoP) for RTEs (and Solution Train Engineers), as well as Scrum Masters. These role-based CoPs provide a forum for sharing effective Agile program execution practices and other institutional knowledge.
In either case, the LACE becomes a continuous source of energy that can help power the enterprise through the necessary organizational changes. Additionally, because the evolution of becoming a Lean-Agile enterprise is an ongoing journey, not a destination, the LACE often evolves into a long-term center for continuous improvement to drive operational excellence.
The APMO can also establish and maintain the systems and reporting capabilities that ensure the smooth deployment and operation of the value stream investment:
- It acts as a communication and advisory liaison regarding strategy
- Offers key performance indicators
- Provides financial governance
It also supports management and people operations/HR in hiring and staff development. More opportunities for driving operational excellence and improvement are described in the Sustain and Improve article.
In the final collaboration, Lean governance influences spending, future expense forecasts and milestones, and governance of the development effort, as illustrated in Figure 5. These stakeholders include the relevant enterprise executives, the Business Owners, the Enterprise Architects, and the APMO. Together with the ART and Solution Train, Business Owners and other stakeholders share the responsibilities described in the following sections.