Also called: Agile Release Cycle, Agile Release Plan, Agile Release Schedule, Agile Release Process, Agile Release Methodology, Agile Release Framework, Agile Release Model, and Agile Release Strategy
Relevant metrics: Number of User Stories Completed, Number of Defects, Velocity, Cycle Time, and Quality of Deliverables
What is an Agile Release Train?
Agile Release Train is a term used in the context of Product Management and User Experience. It refers to a group of teams that work together to deliver a product incrementally. The teams are organized into a train, with each team responsible for a specific part of the product. The teams work together to ensure that the product is delivered on time and meets the customer’s expectations.
The Agile Release Train is a way of organizing teams to ensure that the product is delivered in a timely and efficient manner. It also helps to ensure that the product is of high quality and meets the customer’s needs. The Agile Release Train is an important part of the Product Management and User Experience process, as it helps to ensure that the product is delivered on time and meets the customer’s expectations.
The more alignment you have, the more autonomy you can grant. The one enables the other. – Stephen Bungay
Where did Agile Release Train come from?
Agile Release Train is a term that originated in the software development industry. It is a term used to describe a group of teams that work together to deliver a product or service. The term was first used in the early 2000s by the Scrum Alliance, an organization that promotes the use of Agile software development methods. The term was created to describe the process of releasing a product or service in an iterative and incremental manner. The Agile Release Train is a way of organizing teams to work together to deliver a product or service in a timely and efficient manner. The Agile Release Train is a key component of Agile software development and is used to ensure that teams are able to work together to deliver a product or service in a timely and efficient manner.
A Tool for Streamlining Software Development across teams
Agile Release Train (ART) is a tool used to streamline software development. It is a key component of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), which is a set of principles and practices for scaling agile development. ART is used to coordinate the development of multiple teams working on the same project. It helps to ensure that all teams are working together in a coordinated manner, and that the project is progressing in a timely manner.
ART is based on the concept of a “train”, which is a set of teams that are working together on a project. Each team is responsible for a specific set of tasks, and they work together to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget. The ART helps to coordinate the teams, ensuring that all tasks are completed in the correct order and that the project is progressing as planned.
The ART also helps to ensure that the project is meeting its goals. It helps to identify any potential problems or delays, and it helps to ensure that the project is meeting its deadlines. The ART also helps to ensure that the project is meeting its quality standards. It helps to ensure that the project is meeting its customer requirements, and that the project is meeting its budget.
The ART work to help ensure that projects are progressing in a timely manner, and that they are meeting their goals. It also helps to uphold quality standards and customer requirements.
Best Practices for Implementing an Agile Release Train
In order to successfully implement ART, teams should focus on the following best practices among others:
- Establish clear goals and objectives for each release.
- Create a timeline for each release and ensure that it is followed.
- Establish a process for tracking progress and identifying potential issues.
- Ensure that teams are properly trained and have the necessary resources to complete their tasks.
- Establish a system for communication and collaboration between teams.
- Utilize automated testing and continuous integration to ensure quality.
The Agile Release Train is a continuous delivery model that enables teams to deliver software in a predictable and repeatable manner. It provides teams with a framework for collaboration and helps them to deliver software faster and with higher quality. ART requires teams to be highly organized and disciplined, and it is important for teams to follow best practices when implementing ART. By utilizing ART, teams can ensure that software is delivered on time and with high quality.
Principles behind the Agile Release Train
The Agile Release Train (ART) is based on the following list of principles:
- Fixed Schedule. The ART operates on a known and reliable schedule, determined by the Program Increment (PI) cadence. Missed features can be planned in the next PI.
- System Increment Every 2 Weeks. Each train delivers a new system increment every two weeks and the System Demo allows for evaluation of the integrated system.
- Synchronization. All teams on the ART have the same PI length and common iteration dates and duration.
- Known Velocity. The ART can estimate the amount of features that can be delivered in a PI.
- Agile Teams. Teams embrace Agile values and principles and use Scrum, XP, Kanban and other quality practices.
- Dedicated People. Most people needed by the ART are dedicated full-time.
- Face-to-face PI Planning. The ART plans its work at periodic face-to-face PI Planning events.
- Innovation and Planning (IP) Iterations. Occur at the end of every PI for estimating and dedicated time for planning, innovation and education.
- Inspect and Adapt (I&A) Event. Held at the end of every PI for demonstrating and evaluating the solution, and identifying improvement items.
- Cadence Development, Release on Demand. ARTs use cadence and synchronization for variability management, but releasing is decoupled and can occur at any time subject to governance and criteria.
- Solution Train. In significant value streams, multiple ARTs collaborate on more extensive solutions and participate in Solution Train events.
Benefits of Implementing an Agile Release Train
The main benefit of ART is that it allows teams to deliver software faster and with higher quality. By using ART, teams can focus on delivering value to customers quickly and efficiently. Additionally, ART helps teams to better manage their resources and prioritize tasks. This helps teams to stay on track and deliver software on time.
- Increased Visibility. An Agile Release Train provides visibility into the progress of a project, allowing stakeholders to track the progress of the project and make informed decisions.
- Improved Collaboration. Agile Release Trains facilitate collaboration between teams, allowing them to work together to achieve a common goal.
- Increased Efficiency. Agile Release Trains help to streamline the development process, allowing teams to work faster and more efficiently.
- Reduced Risk. Agile Release Trains help to reduce the risk of project failure by providing a structured approach to development.
- Improved Quality. Agile Release Trains help to ensure that the final product meets the desired quality standards.
Challenges of Implementing an Agile Release Train
One of the main challenges of ART is that it requires teams to be highly organized and disciplined. Teams must be able to work together and communicate effectively in order to ensure that software is delivered on time and with high quality. Additionally, teams must be able to adapt to changing requirements and adjust their plans accordingly.
- Establishing a Clear Vision. Establishing a clear vision for the Agile Release Train is essential for successful implementation. Without a clear vision, it can be difficult to determine the goals and objectives of the project, as well as the timeline for completion.
- Building a Team. Building a team of individuals with the right skills and experience to work on the Agile Release Train is essential. It is important to ensure that the team is able to work together effectively and efficiently to achieve the desired results.
- Establishing a Process. Establishing a process for the Agile Release Train is key to successful implementation. This process should include the steps necessary to complete the project, as well as the timeline for completion.
- Managing Change. Change is inevitable when implementing an Agile Release Train. It is important to have a plan in place to manage any changes that may occur during the project.
- Tracking Progress. Tracking progress is essential for successful implementation of the Agile Release Train. It is important to have a system in place to track progress and ensure that the project is on track.
A Cross-Functional Approach to Agile Organization
Organizations today face the challenge of traditional functional silos that hinder the swift flow of value and lead to slow progress, handoffs, and delays. The Agile Release Trains (ARTs) of SAFe offer a solution to this challenge through the application of systems thinking and organizing around value.
Cross-Functional Release Trains
The ARTs are fully cross-functional organizations that are optimized to facilitate the flow of value from ideation to deployment and operations. Unlike traditional functional organizations, ARTs bring together all the necessary people to define, deliver, and operate the solution, breaking down silos and creating a leaner, self-organizing, and self-managing entity. As a result, value flows more quickly with minimal overhead, and traditional daily task and project management is no longer necessary.
Teams are at the Core of Release Trains
The ARTs include Agile teams that are responsible for defining, building, and testing features, as well as deploying, releasing, and operating the solution. The teams are primarily based on Scrum, XP, and Kanban and have 5-11 dedicated individual contributors covering all roles required to build a quality increment of value every iteration. Teams may focus on technology or business and have two specialty roles: the Scrum Master and the Product Owner.
Organizing Agile Teams Around Value
To maximize the benefits of ARTs, Agile teams must also be organized around value. SAFe simplifies this process through the use of four fundamental team topologies: stream-aligned, complicated subsystem, platform, and enabling teams. Each topology maps to specific responsibilities and behaviors and can be visualized through icons to help compare and contrast design merits and align the flow of value. Further information on these topologies and their application can be found in the Agile Teams article.
Roles in the Release Train
The success of an Release Train is dependent on several critical roles, including the Release Train Engineer (RTE), Product Management, System Architect/Engineering, Business Owners, Customers, System Teams, and Shared Services. Each of these roles plays an integral part in ensuring the ART’s successful execution, from defining the overall architecture of the system to facilitating the program’s execution and continuous improvement.
Cadence and Synchronization
One of the biggest challenges faced by traditional Agile development is the difficulty in integrating the full system when teams work independently and asynchronously. The Release Ttrain addresses this issue by applying cadence and synchronization to ensure that the system is iterating as a whole, continuously focusing on the evolution and objective assessment of the full system. The system demo at the end of every iteration provides evidence of this evolution.
The organization of a Release Train determines which products, services, features, or components it will deliver. Effective Release Trains typically consist of 50-125 people, with the upper limit being based on Dunbar’s number (the notion that there exists a cognitive limit on human groups of about 150 individuals), and the lower limit being based on empirical observation.
Release Trains can either support a single value stream or multiple value streams, depending on the size and scope of the solution being delivered.
What is the purpose of the Agile Release Train?
Hint The purpose of the Agile Release Train is to provide a framework for delivering software in an iterative and incremental manner.
What are the goals and objectives of the Agile Release Train?
Hint The goals and objectives of the Agile Release Train are to deliver software quickly and efficiently, while ensuring quality and customer satisfaction.
What are the benefits of using an Agile Release Train?
Hint The benefits of using an Agile Release Train include increased speed to market, improved customer satisfaction, and increased collaboration between teams.
What are the risks associated with using an Agile Release Train?
Hint The risks associated with using an Agile Release Train include the potential for scope creep, lack of visibility into progress, and difficulty in managing dependencies.
What resources are needed to successfully implement an Agile Release Train?
Hint The resources needed to successfully implement an Agile Release Train include a project manager, a product owner, a scrum master, and a development team.
What is the timeline for the Agile Release Train?
Hint The timeline for the Agile Release Train will depend on the size and complexity of the project, but typically ranges from two to four weeks.
What are the key metrics that will be used to measure the success of the Agile Release Train?
Hint The key metrics that will be used to measure the success of the Agile Release Train include customer satisfaction, time to market, and cost savings.
What are the key stakeholders involved in the Agile Release Train?
Hint The key stakeholders involved in the Agile Release Train include the product owner, the project manager, the scrum master, and the development team.
What are the key processes and procedures that need to be followed for the Agile Release Train?
Hint The key processes and procedures that need to be followed for the Agile Release Train include sprint planning, sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives.
What are the potential challenges that may arise during the Agile Release Train?
Hint The potential challenges that may arise during the Agile Release Train include scope creep, lack of visibility into progress, and difficulty in managing dependencies.
- Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen (2006)
- Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum by Mike Cohn (2010)
- Scaling Software Agility: Best Practices for Large Enterprises by Dean Leffingwell (2007)
- Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for LargeScale Scrum by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde (2009)
- Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise by Dean Leffingwell (2011)
- Agile Release Trains of SAFe by SAFe
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