SAFe Agile Interview Questions:
Agile is a methodology that promotes continuous development and testing throughout a project. It encourages rapid and flexible response to any change. Some commonly used Agile frameworks include Kanban, Lean Development, Scrum and SAFe.
Agile is a broad term that covers several frameworks, out of which one is SAFe. This framework, established by Dean Leffingwell, is specifically for large-scale enterprise projects as it scales up other models like Scrum to an enterprise level. It is based on three fundamental principles: Agile Development, Lean Product Development and Systems Thinking.
The four core values of SAFe are:
Built-in quality has five dimensions:
The four levels in version 4.5 of SAFe are:
SAFe 5.0 was launched in January 2020 and has seven core competencies revolving around customer-centricity. They are:
Metrics are pre-decided parameters which are used to measure how well an organisation is performing and progressing to achieve its objectives. In SAFe, four metrics are considered:
Value Stream is a collective term for all the steps involved from the time of customer order to the time of delivery. It includes the people who develop new solutions and technology and the continuous flow of information or materials to the customer. The steps involving people who deliver come under "operational value streams" while the steps involving the people who develop the products come under "development value streams".
The RTE is the coach of an Agile Release Train (ART). Their primary responsibility is to accelerate the ART events and assist in delivering the value. RTEs must have excellent communication skills, and they are the ones who usually interact with the stakeholders as well.
An essential feature of SAFe - and Agile in general - is continuous improvement. It is done through innovation and planning sprints. IP is also aided by constant learning. This way, the people get time to innovate and explore beyond the iterations dedicated towards the delivery of the product. One crucial part of IP is called PI (Program Increment) system demo, which integrates all the developments throughout the project.
It is a regularly occurring event where every team analyses the increment at the end of every iteration (the standard fixed-length time window) and accordingly modifies the team's backlog based on the feedback of the stakeholders and the product owner. It gives the Agile teams a chance to showcase their work and for the stakeholders to monitor the progress.
Stories are short descriptions of some desired functionality and feature written in the user's language. They are mainly used to define system behaviour in Agile. Most details are not revealed until the story is ready for implementation. Accepting stories is the responsibility of the product owner, but anyone can write a story.
User stories are stories which deliver functionality directly to the end-user. These are usually written in simple language that the user can understand, and this language will also help the Agile team appreciate what the user wants.
Enabler stories give an insight into the work items needed to support exploration, architecture, infrastructure and compliance. These may never be seen by the end-user, and are often written in technical language.
An epic is typically defined at the portfolio level. It is a container for a significant solution development initiative. The two types of epics are:
Both feature and capability are part of the artifact hierarchy defined by SAFe. A feature is a service that fulfils the requirement of a stakeholder. The two concepts of a feature are benefit hypothesis and acceptance criteria. A capability is similar to a feature but is a higher-level solution behaviour that cuts across multiple ARTs.
In general, any method or framework will have pros and cons, and it is good to be aware of both to have a balanced viewpoint. Although Agile methodology is followed across industries, it does have limitations like:
The principles of SAFe are based on Lean and Agile methods, as well as lessons learnt from plenty of actual deployments.
Recently, a 10th principle is also stated: "Organise around value".
The primary motivation behind this concept is to shorten the lead time, or in other words, the feedback process is faster because there's no delay in waiting for specific higher authority to respond. Note that the decisions which have a far-reaching impact or those which are beyond the scope of certain teams will need the intervention of a higher authority, but, by and large, the time-critical decisions are decentralised.
18. What are the shared services? Does SAFe benefit from this in any way?
Shared Services consists of the people, services and speciality roles needed for an ART to succeed, but which cannot be devoted full-time. Shared services can improve efficiency by quickly assigning experts of an area of the system that requires unique knowledge, without looking for a full-time availability.
An enterprise reaches its tipping point when the dominant organisational motive is to achieve change rather than resist it. The status quo becomes so unacceptable that making a change is the only way forward.
It is the last element of the continuous delivery pipeline. It is the ability to deploy new functionality and release it immediately based on customer or market demand.
This article covered some of the typical questions that are asked in a SAFe, Agile interview. Since most industries use this framework, it is essential to know how this model would apply to that particular industry and where it falls short, so that you can voice your decisions and answers clearly in the interview and later on the job.
To understand more about the SAFe Agile check out our SAFe certification.
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