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Common Pitfalls in a SAFe® Transformation and How Jira Align Can Help Avoid Them



Implementing the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) is a complex process that organizations often struggle with. Without proper guidance and tools, they may encounter common pitfalls that hinder the success of their SAFe transformation. In this article, we will explore these pitfalls and discuss how Jira Align can help to mitigate them. Jira Align is a powerful tool that supports organizations in navigating the challenges of SAFe implementation.

1. Lack of Alignment and Collaboration

One of the most common pitfalls in SAFe transformations is the lack of alignment and collaboration among teams and stakeholders. Miscommunication and disconnected workflows can lead to delays, conflicts, and suboptimal outcomes. Jira Align addresses this challenge by providing a centralized platform where teams can align their priorities, visualize dependencies, and collaborate effectively. With features like shared dashboards, real-time communication, and feedback mechanisms, Jira Align fosters alignment and collaboration across the organization.

One of the key functionalities in Jira Align to enhance alignment is provides by the strategy pyramid. Mission, Vision, Values are defined here and linked to your goals and objectives you want to reach in shorter timeframes.



Mission, Vision, Value and Strategy Pyramid

This hierarchy of goals and objectives can be linked to your work items and ensure your teams are collaboratively working on achieving the same outcome. While the Strategy Room and the Strategy Pyramid provides high level information on your strategy progress, the OKR hub is the best way to understand achievements along your objectives in all levels of your organization. 



2. Insufficient Visibility and Transparency

Without proper visibility and transparency, organizations may struggle to track the progress, identify bottlenecks, and make informed decisions. Lack of visibility can result in delays, duplicated efforts, and resource misallocation. Jira Align offers robust reporting and metrics capabilities that provide real-time visibility into the SAFe transformation. Teams can track key performance indicators, measure progress, and generate insightful reports. With Jira Align, stakeholders have the necessary transparency to identify issues promptly and take appropriate actions.

A central information hub for all teams are the "Rooms" which are an information cockpit for your teams, ARTs, Portfolio or strategy: each room provides the summarized information that is mostly required on that specific level. Rooms are configurable, visibility of metric gadgets can be toggled on or off and the gadgets can be placed on the dashboard where your teams prefer them to be shown.


The Team Room provides information about the sprint progress: work items, impediments, sprint backlog, iteration goal, objectives and dependencies.

The Program Room displays information about one or multiple program increments: work items (features), accepted story points, dependencies, impediments, impediments and objectives on Program/ART level.

The Portfolio Room focuses on information about portfolio epic progress: execution status, related resource situation and and the financial situation.

The Strategy Room summarizes the whole strategy implementation progress: OKR, achieved outcomes, work items

3. Ineffective Dependency Management

Managing dependencies is a critical aspect of successful SAFe transformation. Failure to address dependencies can lead to delays, conflicts, and compromised product quality. Jira Align facilitates effective dependency management by allowing teams to visualize and track dependencies across programs, teams, and epics. The tool provides a clear view of interdependencies, enabling proactive planning and mitigation of risks. With Jira Align, organizations can manage dependencies effectively and ensure smooth progress during the transformation.


 Dependency Workflow

A simple dependency workflow helps teams to align about their expectations. A regular review of your dependency increases transparency about uncommitted dependencies, issues when teams can not deliver in time, or just missing agreements.


List of Dependencies


Dependency Trend Analysis


Dependency Wheel

Several reports help to monitor dependencies and trigger might trigger discussions for potential improvements:

the Dependency List helps to manage your commitments, the Dependency Trend Analysis and the Dependency Wheel Report help to understand major communication channels: which teams should work closer together as they have a lot of dependencies in their plannings?

Finally, dependencies are also transparent at the ART/program board supporting PI planning or PI execution as shown below.


4. Lack of Continuous Improvement and Adaptability

A SAFe transformation is an ongoing journey that requires continuous improvement and adaptability. Organizations that fail to embrace a culture of learning and iteration may struggle to sustain their transformation efforts. Jira Align supports continuous improvement by enabling teams to track metrics, measure outcomes, and identify areas for enhancement. The tool's flexibility allows organizations to adapt their processes and workflows to changing needs. With Jira Align, organizations can foster a culture of continuous improvement and ensure long-term success in their SAFe transformation.

The following reports are three good examples for including Jira Align reports to your continuous improvement activities like retrospectives.

Use the Iteration Metrics to understand how important team indicators evolve from sprint to sprint. E.g. make your team "emotion" transparent to trigger feedback talks and required improvement, have a look of achieved objectives and committed vs achieved stories and story points.


Iteration Metrics

The Iteration Coaching summarizes how a team did against the goals set for an iteration.


Iteration Coaching Report

The Program Predictability report explains, how your program/ART delivers based on their commitments by comparing planned and achieved value points.


Program Predictability



SAFe transformations can be challenging, but by leveraging Jira Align, organizations can avoid common pitfalls and enhance their chances of success. By promoting alignment, collaboration, visibility, and transparency, Jira Align addresses key challenges in SAFe transformation. Its powerful features for dependency management and continuous improvement empower organizations to navigate the complexities of scaling Agile. With Jira Align, organizations can streamline their SAFe transformation, achieve better outcomes, and foster a culture of agility and collaboration.

Successful SAFe transformations require careful planning, effective change management, and strong leadership. Jira Align serves as a valuable tool in supporting these efforts, but it should be complemented by proper training, coaching, and organizational support to ensure a successful transformation journey.

What is your opinion?

Do you see additional pitfalls where Jira Align can help out? Share your opinion in the comments! :-)



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