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What is an Agile Release Train (ART)?

by Ramya

May 13, 2019
Category Agile and Scrum


What is an Agile Release Train (ART)?

The Agile Release Train (ART) is a continuous delivery of features that add value to the Customer. The Agile Release Train (ART) is a prolonged, self-organized group of Agile teams, that strategizes, performs, and implements together in an incremental manner in a value stream. At the end of each sprint, few values added features get added incrementally. Hence, it is called Agile Release Train.

How is Program Increment (PI) related to ART?

Program Increments (PIs) offer a development fixed timelines usually of 10 weeks that utilizes rhythm and harmonization to host scheduling, limiting WIP, make available for combination of value and guarantee steady retrogrades. PI fixed timelines or Sprints are the intervals above which the Agile Release Train or ART must deliver set of features that are committed to the Client. Every Release train Team consists of committed set of people and assets required to constantly identify, construct and validate competency in every increment.

Principles governing the Agile Release Train

The Agile Release Train ensures association, streamline and aids in dealing with hazard by providing inflection and management at the program level. Agile Release Train works based on a set of rules and regulations to regulate and ensure continuous, error-free and value-added delivery. In this topic, we will put light on principles or rules on which Agile Release Train works:

Fixed Timelines:

Agile Release Train is delivered at fixed intervals. At the end of each sprint, the Product Increment is delivered at decided timelines. The timelines never change for any individual or any sprint. The Fixed timelines are pre-decided during the Planning sessions.

Every Fortnightly, new features are delivered:

Every Agile Release train commits and deploys new features in the form of increment every fortnightly. Then the features are demoed to the Client to seek feedback and confirmation that the right product is built which consists of combined features of all the team working towards Agile Release Train.

Fixed Intervals of Product Increment:

The Product Increment has a fixed interval. All the Agile Teams working for an Agile Release Train adhere to this Fixed Interval and the product is incremented at this fixed interval only.

The Agile Release train has a recognized velocity – At every increment or with every Agile Release Train, whatever features that are going to be delivered can be estimated.

Agile groups – Agile groups accept and acknowledge the ‘Agile Principles’ and SAFe values and fundamentals. They adhere to these values and fundamentals and whichever Agile methodologies Agile groups chose to implement in their projects, they ensure that they align with Agile fundamentals and practices.

Devoted personnel – The people who contribute to Agile Release Train in SAFe are dedicated, loyal and work full-time in the project. Each one’s contribution is very important to achieve the planned ART.

Planning the Product Increment – In order to achieve successful Agile Release Train in SAFe, planning is very important. The vision is set for the entire program in the planning session wherein all features to be delivered in ART are planned in a timely manner. Usually, planning is done face to face in planning sessions.

Inspect and Adapt (I&A) –As discussed earlier, proper planning is done for Agile Release Train based on the priorities provided by the Client. As per planning, Agile groups work on the stories and on completion are released in the market. Based on the market trend and feedback on the product, inspection is done and the team adapts to the changes and works upon them and makes them available in the next release.

Release based on market trend– ARTs implement cadence and harmonization to aid achieve the inherent changes as per end User’s feedback. However, releasing the product is usually independent of the progressing cadence. If there is demand in the market and if the client wants a release and if it fits in the criteria, Agile Release Train in SAFe is released either as a part of a whole at any given point of time.

Scaled Agile Framework is practiced at 3 levels based on the team size and ART planning. Let us see how Agile Release Train is practiced at each level.

Agile Release Train at the team level:

SAFe at the team level is achieved by following the scrum methodology of Agile. A  Product Backlog is defined at a team level and Scrum team of size 5-9 members are chosen. Scrum team picks up User Stories from the product backlog and work upon it in a fixed sprint length of 2 weeks. After a couple of sprints, Agile Release Train is delivered. This practice is known as SAFe or ART at the team level

Agile Release Train at the Program level:

This practice is usually applied in most of the organizations. ART at the program level is achieved by setting up multiple scrum teams working for a single product or project. Agile Release Train at the Program level consists of people up to 100 in numbers. Agile Release Train is planned entirely at the Program level. A product backlog is defined at the product level. The product backlog consists of features that are broken down to User Stories. Agile Release Train is planned to decide which features are to be delivered in which release. Then each scrum team picks up the features or User Stories from the common Product backlog and is worked upon in 2 weeks sprint. Apart from all scrum ceremonies, there is something called as Scrum of Scrum that takes place where one representative from each team attends the meeting and explains what their team members are doing and highlights dependency if any. At the end of a couple of sprints, the development work or product features of all the teams are integrated with each other and then release is delivered as a part of Agile Release Train.

Agile Release Train at Portfolio level:

If Agile Release Train is planned with a team of up to 1000 people then it is called Agile Release Train at Portfolio level where product backlog and Agile Release Train are planned at the enterprise level. Multiple projects with multiple scrum teams work together with each other to achieve a goal at an enterprise level. It is similar to ART at the program level. Even here there is Scrum of Scrum meeting, ART takes place after a couple of sprints. The only difference is that it is planned and managed at the enterprise level.

Example:

The best example of Agile Release Train using SAFe is the e-commerce site Amazon. Amazon released its features in the market with the basic ones. Now they have so many features such as different vendors, categories, etc added to Release Train and today Amazon has reached to a position where they have multiple ARTs planned every day making them no 1  eCommerce site.

Conclusion:

The SAFe methodology is extremely helpful when the Organisation is working on a very big product with a lot of complexities. One of the best parts of SAFe is Agile Release Train. Agile Release Train helps an organization to release the product early in the market based on the client requirements at a very early stage and stay in the competition with competitors. After reviewing and evaluating the released product and feedback, changes are incorporated and the team is ready with the next cycle of Agile Release Train. Agile Release Train is highly recommended if you want to win the market with constant delivery

For more details about ARTs and Scaled Agile Framework one has to compulsory attend SAFe Certification Training with StarAgile. We offer 2 days of physical classroom training which is a prerequisite for the SAFe Certification exam.

SAFe Agilist Certification cost in India would be 50,000 – 55,000 INR and course fee includes safe agilist certification cost and training will be delivered by 20+ years experienced SAFe Program Consultants. 

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