The best way to implement any enterprise solution is to place the customer central to the system’s purpose while making economic tradeoffs to ensure that the system delivers the greatest value with the most reasonable total cost of ownership. Whether companies adopt a system “off the shelf” or completely customize, choosing the right implementation approach can put companies on a better path to business agility.
Accenture’s “SAFe for Enterprise Solutions” offers key benefits over traditional vendor-driven approaches, such as SAP’s Activate and Oracle’s Unified Method or their derivatives:
- Emphasizes pivot opportunities that increase business agility
- Implements lean practices with enterprise solutions delivery
- Requires ongoing business engagement and alignment
- Implements continuous integration and validation cycles with “continuish” deployment
- Encourages flexible and resilient architecture with digital decoupling
- Focuses on continually evolving the system with an economic view
SAFe – with a twist
While SAFe alone can simplify the implementation of any enterprise solution, it is not enough. This POV focuses on nine key adaptations needed to increase the efficacy of SAFe in achieving successful and efficient implementations:
- Start with the Solution Train
- Think “minimum integrated business process” (MIBP)
- Use the BPML as guidance, not as structure
- Use Capability Strings to map value in short segments that can be independently validated
- Use WRICEF objects as SAFe Features
- Use an estimator for Capability WSJF “Job Size”
- Think “continuish” deployment
- Continually evolve the live enterprise system
- Adapt the SAFe Implementation Roadmap for enterprise solutions
Adaptations in action
One of the world’s largest Aerospace & Defense companies leveraged our expertise for an ERP Solution Train to create a new “greenfield” system. To deliver this monumental system we established eight ARTs focused on SAP value streams and one ART organized around Salesforce. The engagement was part of a much larger “super-sized” SAFe implementation in a multi-vendor environment with over ten partners across the programs. Accenture’s focus was on aligning the ERP efforts with the larger transformation. The inflight waterfall program started with approximately 300 people and quickly grew to an agile effort targeting over 1,000 people.
The implementation of a recurring Solution Planning event scheduled four weeks prior to each Program Increment (PI) Planning allowed the ERP Solution Train to synchronize across the ARTs and collaborate on the dependencies that impacted each ART independently. Without the governance of the Solution Train, it was possible for individual ARTs to make decisions that were significant to them but have a negative impact on the overall solution. Further, this alignment between the larger tactical and strategic activities of the “super-sized SAFe” effort ensured that the ERP system didn’t diverge from the overall vision of the broader enterprise transformation.
The first of many PI Planning events leveraged our experience for standing up a fully operating system. Each ART made key decisions and determined the core configs. By concentrating the delivery teams on foundational aspects of the enterprise solution, Product Management began to evaluate which core integrated business processes would receive focus during each subsequent Program Increment. The successful integrated solution demos were a result of careful consideration of the Capability Strings at each ART’s PI Planning event.
Other enterprise solutions clients have used the SAFe Implementation Roadmap without adaptations. These transformations tended to start well. Essential SAFe teams implemented agile practices, but the weight of the traditional PMO and old ways of thinking at the leadership levels forced the teams into multi-speed/ hybrid mode. We met these users where they were and leveraged our new Implementation Roadmap and identified what was missed, whether to stand up an Agile PMO or redesign the ARTs to integrate, rather than isolate, Central Finance and Master Data.