Forget the express train, the Intercity or the Thalys. The Agile Release Train is where it’s at! This train runs quickly and efficiently to its ultimate goal. It always keeps to the timetable. The passengers mostly set this timetable themselves! The Agile Release Train (ART) was invented by SAFe, the Scaled Agile Framework. The ART is a virtual train consisting of 5 to 10 self-organising, multidisciplinary teams who plan, organise and perform their work together. Together they work on Program Increments, components that fit together perfectly and provide added value to the entire organisation.
At team level
Together the SAFe Agile Release Teams make a commitment to deliver a Program Increment in 10-12 weeks. This product offers added value to the business and can be rolled out as a whole.
- The Scrum Master facilitates the team, monitors the process, handles impediments and ensures that the development team can focus on the content-related tasks.
- The Product Owner manages the team’s backlog, prioritizes user stories and ensures that the development team can deal with them.
- Each team has its own DevTeam. This consists of 3-7 developers who focus fully on creating new PIs.
At Programme level
- The work of the different scrum teams must be well aligned. This is the responsibility of the Release Train Engineer. He or she coaches the scrum masters and ensures that they work well together. The RTE maps interdependencies and ensures that they are properly managed. The RTE also constantly works on improving the programmes so that the ART can run even faster and more efficiently. The RTE is thus known as the head scrum master or the train manager of the ART. An important position!
- Product Management develops and manages the backlog at Programme level. The PM team maps the business requirements, prioritises them and develops them until they’re ready to be transferred to the scrum teams.
- The Business Owners have final responsibility for management, compliance and the result of the solutions delivered. These are the internal clients who exchange ideas with the PM team about the requirements and their prioritisation.
At Portfolio level
In addition to our train staff, there are also various teams and employees who help to keep the train on track from a Portfolio Management perspective.
- The System Team supports the ART with setting up and managing the different environments and tools that are needed in order to make continuous integration possible.
- Special Shared Services teams consisting of specialists, for example in the field of security or databases.
- The Release Management team meets regularly in order to discuss the scope, progress and quality of releases. It ultimately determines whether a release can go live.
All in all, SAFe recognizes many roles and responsibilities. This is also necessary because SAFe offers a structure in which everyone who is involved in a particular value stream can work together effectively. This is particularly challenging for very hierarchical organizations that are organized around functional entities rather than product-oriented departments, and requires a different management approach.