A unique team spirit with SAFe®

Interview with ProData-consultant Kent Meiling Sørensen, Solution Architect in BEC

In this interview, ProData-consultant Kent Meiling Sørensen tells how SAFe® and the appertaining workflows and processes contribute to create a unique group dynamic and a good collaboration in the team. 

In BEC, it is evident how the implementation of the agile framework SAFe® is present. Scrum boards, program boards, PI objectives, and large amounts of post-its decorate the walls when you step into the big IT company. In one of BEC’s 47 agile teams, Solution Architect Kent Meiling Sørensen and his team are working on the deliveries they have committed to. In the so-called PI-planning sessions, the team has jointly defined what deliveries they are able to deliver in the next three months and, thereby, committed to this explicitly to the other teams in the Agile Release Train (ART).

A joint responsibility

The fact that the team has jointly committed to the deliveries towards a larger number of teams who are dependent on these deliveries, create a unique group dynamic and collaboration. 

“If we promise something, we will keep it. We all agree upon that. In this team, we have a culture that implies which we all have to help each other if we want to reach our goal,” Kent Meiling Sørensen says. He elaborates:

“For example, we were extremely busy right before we had a particular delivery and we were especially under pressure on the testing part. It was very natural for the rest of us to step in and assist even though the least of us were responsible for testing. It was more important that we, as a team, reached our target with the delivery.”

Even though you do not have key competences within a specific domain, it is part of the group dynamic of the agile teams to help each other and get the deliveries done in the agreed upon time and quality. In the team, the joint sense of responsibility has contributed to the creation of a culture where everyone will take responsibility, contribute, and bring new ideas to the table. This also makes the process of learning and development in relation to how the team cooperates more natural because everyone can ask questions and challenge one another. Learning and development is a necessity since few workflows and processes are perfect from the beginning.   

“For example, we still have a lot of discussions on how to break down and refine our ‘user stories’. In the beginning, we just tried our way but over time we have become more and more incisive. It is a continuous process where you have to work with the method and there is still room for improvement. Of course, it has something to do with training but the development would have been slower without the group dynamic”.

The good collaboration which is shaped internally in the team but also across all teams in the ART is not the only advantage. According to Kent Meiling Sørensen, the distinct articulation and illustration of the dependences between the teams and between the team members that is evident when you are working with SAFe® enables you to spot problems earlier in the process than you normally would have:

“Everything is brought to light faster which means that we register errors and wrong solutions much earlier in the process. Meanwhile, we are not waiting around for everyone else because we are constantly aware when the mutual deliveries are due. We are also working to get our end users to have an active part earlier in the process” Sørensen explains.

An inspirational atmosphere

The agile environment is inspiring in BEC. It is obvious how the implementation of SAFe® and the agile workflows permeate the entire organization. And for the ProData-consultant, it has been inspiring to be part of BEC’s agile journey so far.

“From top to bottom there is an incredible enthusiasm about SAFe®. The whole organization is behind and it is clear that BEC really wants this. I like this approach and it is exciting to be a part of,” Kent Meiling Sørensen concludes.   

The agile team in SAFe®

"The SAFe Agile Team is a cross-functional group of 5 to 10 people who have the ability and authority to define, build, and test some element of Solution value—all in a short Iteration timebox. Specifically, the SAFe Agile Team incorporates the Dev Team, Scrum Master, and Product Owner roles. While operating within the context of the ART, teams are empowered, self-organizing, and self-managing. Without effective Agile Teams, composed of empowered and motivated individuals, organizations cannot achieve the larger business benefits of Lean-Agile development."

Source: http://www.scaledagileframework.com/agile-teams/

Who's who:

Name:Kent Meiling Sørensen

Title:Solution Architect, ProData Consult. On assignment in BEC.

Age: 52

Edu.:EDP-assistant (what the IT degree  was called in 1985)

Kent Meiling Sørensen is an experienced IT-consultant within the financial sector. Amongst other, he has solved tasks for FinansSystem, PBS, SDC, and now BEC.