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The Power of Shared Services in SAFe®

In the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), Shared Services play a critical role in facilitating the alignment, collaboration, and delivery of value across organizations of all sizes, particularly those of larger enterprises. By using SAFe success patterns consistently across the enterprise, with transparency and collaboration, with Agile Hive, we can reduce a significant impediment to the flow of value.
Shared services in SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

First Things First – What Are Shared Services in the Context of SAFe®?

In the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), Shared Services play a critical role in facilitating the alignment, collaboration, and delivery of value across organizations of all sizes, but particularly those of larger enterprises. Shared services provide centralized expertise, resources, and support to enable organizations to deliver value at scale. 

By aligning with value streams, collaborating with Agile Release Trains (ARTs), and focusing on continuous improvement, Shared Services play a vital role in promoting agility, innovation, and success within the organization. In SAFe, Shared Services are specialized teams or resources that provide centralized capabilities, expertise, or infrastructure to support multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs) or Value Streams within the organization. These services may include IT operations, security, compliance, infrastructure, architecture, and other cross-team applications.

In this article, we’ll dive a bit deeper into Shared Services, and specifically how this new feature has been integrated into Agile Hive.

Implementing Shared Services in Agile Hive

After many requests from our customers, months of development, and weeks of testing, the implementation of the Shared Services feature in Jira, including the ability to select Shared Service teams, link them to features, select PIs, and view their impact on the ART Report, is now live and available for use – we think you’ll love it! The Agile Hive dev team has been working hard to validate the implementation of Shared Services, including checking for performance issues and the ability to view the context and issue hierarchy for Shared Service team tickets, before the official release.

Configuring Shared Services in Agile Hive
In this view from Agile Hive, we have three Shared Services teams identified; Hardware Compliance (HWCMPL), System Integration Test (SIT), and General Compliance (GENCMP)

Shared Services in SAFe offer centralized expertise and resources to support multiple ARTs or Value Streams. This centralized approach helps in avoiding duplication of effort, ensuring consistency, and promoting economies of scale. For us at Agile Hive, knowing there are more than a handful of benefits to incorporating this feature into our product, we want to mention a handful;

  • Alignment of Value Streams
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • ART Integration
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Governance and Compliance
  • Scalability and Flexibility

Alignment, Integration, and Cross-Collaboration

Shared services are aligned with one or more value streams in SAFe. This alignment ensures that the services provided by Shared Service teams are directly contributing to the delivery of value to customers and stakeholders. 

In SAFe, they often operate based on Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which define the agreed-upon levels of service quality, responsiveness, and availability. These SLAs help manage expectations and ensure that Shared Services meet the needs of their consumers effectively. Shared service teams collaborate closely with Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and other teams within SAFe. They participate in Program Increment (PI) planning, backlog refinement, and other Agile ceremonies to ensure that their services are integrated seamlessly into the larger value delivery process.

Shared services promote cross-functional collaboration within SAFe by providing specialized expertise and support to multiple teams and value streams. This collaboration enhances agility, accelerates delivery, and fosters innovation across the organization. Now and moving forward within Agile Hive, the linking of stories to features with the hierarchy link will be more intuitive for teams within the ART, allowing for better visualization of dependencies. Additionally, issues from Shared Services teams can contribute to the velocity of the ART, and will be included in the ART Report.

Shared service teams collaborate closely with Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and other teams within SAFe. They participate in Program Increment (PI) planning, backlog refinement, and other Agile ceremonies to ensure that their services are integrated seamlessly into the larger value delivery process.

Embracing Shared Services Within Agile Hive

Embracing shared services within Agile Hive

Let’s now step through an example of implementing Shared Services within Agile Hive.

Once you have created one or more Jira projects, or identified existing ones, that are applicable as a Shared Service, within Agile Hive these will be individually added under the new Shared Services tab in the Agile Hive Project Hierarchy. 

Adding the projects to the Shared Services tab will allow you to link the Shared Services items to other issues in the SAFe hierarchy. This enables you to view shared \services dependencies, as well as the contributions of Shared Services work aggregated up to the higher-level items in the hierarchy.

 

Getting started with Shared Services in Agile Hive

 

Now, with these projects integrated into Agile Hive, we then begin the process of linking issues from the ART or at the team level, to identify dependencies on or from those Shared Services identified. Upon doing so for each, under the Context section of the Shared service work item/issue, you can easily see how it rolls up to the ART level.

 

Showing the layers

 

In our example, a story has been created for the General Compliance team and story points have been assigned. This will be useful for visualizing the level of contribution to the higher-level work. Because this project is in the Shared Services list, you can make this work a child of an ART-level Feature which will allow you to then see it in the broader SAFe Context.

As the ART then moves through its iterations, it is now possible to monitor the progress of each of the Shared Services contributing work.

 

Visibility of Shared Services in Agile Hive

 

As a result, now at the higher level, three things are visible;  

  • The Shared Services team is listed in the teams involved for the ART-level Feature
  • The amount of contribution via story points, from the Shared Services work
  • Shared services as part of the progress during the execution of the Planning Interval

 

Monitor velocity of shared services

 

In a nutshell, what makes Shared Services in Agile Hive so unique? It allows us to make another Shared Service issue, like a Story, a child of a different ART’s Feature, and the Shared Service team can see all of their work, across any ARTs or Teams, all in one place:

 

Shared Services can see all of their work across ARTs, teams, all in one place

 

Viewing linked pages

 

Continuous Improvement

Within the SAFe framework, Shared Services are continuously improving their processes, tools, and practices to enhance efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction. They leverage Lean and Agile principles, such as Kaizen (continuous improvement) and retrospectives, to identify areas for improvement and implement changes iteratively. 

Designed to be scalable and flexible to accommodate the evolving needs of the organization, whether the organization is small or large, Shared Services can adapt to changes in demand, technology, and market conditions while continuing to deliver value effectively. Therefore, continuous improvement involves all of the Value Streams supported by the Shared Services.

By using SAFe success patterns consistently across the enterprise, with transparency and collaboration, with Agile Hive, we can reduce a significant impediment to the flow of value.

To see Shared Services in action, or any of the incredible features available in Agile Hive, we invite you to reach out and schedule a demo with our team. Demos are available in English and German, and we’ll be sure to craft the session specific to your needs and questions. We look forward to speaking with you!

 

Further Reading

Adopting SAFe® in Small Steps

Agile Hive Integration with Collaboration Technologies

System Architect Using Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®)

Release Train Engineers – Empowered for Greatness with Agile Hive

Product Management Using Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®)

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Joshua Brock

English content and technical writer, SPC

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