7 Things You Need Do for a Successful Agile Framework Upgrade

Frameworks evolve because people are learning how to do things better. After analyzing the framework and combining it with what has been observed to work in organizations, some changes can be implemented. For example, as a widely adopted lean agile software and system development framework, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFeTM) is an evolving entity with periodic updates (five major updates since its initial release in 2011).

These upgrades/updates may include the introduction of new ideas and concepts, new guidance and clarification on existing components and incremental improvement of the overall framework based on on-going feedback from practitioners and thought leaders. Some of these updates may contain significant changes to improve the performance and success of your teams and making sure they function efficiently.

As is the case with many tools, applications, and frameworks your organization uses – you may not hurry to upgrade to a new version. A new release may not have any compelling new features or capabilities that are of interest to you, the upgrade may be complex and affect the daily operations of your business, or you simply do not want to be on the cutting/bleeding edge of the newest version of the software/framework. All legitimate reasons. While it is not our intention in this blog to advocate a particular framework or promote upgrades, we are sharing some of the things you need to think about as you contemplate a future upgrade to an updated version of a framework.

1. Evaluate

What is the value of the new content to the organization? If there is new, high-value content to be leveraged, then that should encourage organizations to adopt upgrade or new version sooner rather than adopting later. Another issue to consider is what happens if your current version is no longer supported. If the version you are using is reaching end of life or there is no more support available for your current version, you should plan to switch right away as it is likely that they would sunset any related content. Of course – if your evaluation results in a ‘go’ decision, you’ll need to decide whether you upgrade your entire organization all at once or opt for a gradual process.

2. Plan

Needless to say, to ensure a successful upgrade, you’ll need to plan carefully. Put a Program or Enterprise Level Kanban together with what needs to be done in what order. Clearly define the order of the different tasks and actions along with their dependencies. All should be mapped on a Kanban board, sized, prioritized, and assigned. Also, making the jump from version to version can be part of the regular PI cadence. For example, if a new version exists, try to upgrade it as part of the PI planning and execution. Establish the upgrade cadence of every other PI or whichever works best for your organization.

3. Estimate Cost

To the best of your ability, estimate the cost of the upgrade to the enterprise, socialize that estimate up front, and ensure buy-in within the executive rank to secure sufficient funding. While your figures may not be 100% accurate, try to include direct, as well as indirect costs, associated with the upgrade effort.

4. Communicate

Make communications a part of the solution. A robust strategic communications plan can help you successfully manage your organization through changes. It’s important to communicate to your organization what is being done, why it’s being done, and what exactly has changed. When done the right way, communications are a top driver for employee engagement and empowerment as employees understand how their contribution impacts the organization.

5. Provide Training

Before commencing the upgrade process, review training content, and additional courses/updates offered by the framework provider. Determine which courses you will require for enablement and whether some or all your practitioners may require re-certification. Encourage practitioners to self-enable by attending any webcast/launch event(s), review What’s New in Version X.X content, read articles and presentations, etc.

6. Create a Center of Practice

A Center of Practice may include multiple practitioners and stakeholders from your organizations. Scrum Master, Product Owners, Coaches, etc. The CoP can serve as your advisory board, making recommendations and adjustment to the upgrade rollout, customizing it to the organization’s specific needs and determining the order and priorities of the different activities.

7. Coach

Embedding experienced coaches that are already certified on the new framework version within your teams is probably one the best actions you can take to ensure a successful upgrade. Experienced coaches have successfully applied the framework at organizations in multiple industries. The real-life experience they bring can make an enormous difference in imparting valuable knowledge and preparing your teams to make the most of what the upgrade framework has to offer.

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Cassidy Knight
Cassidy Knight
Agile Coach, Cprime