In the Scaled Agile Framework® SAFe® an agile release train (ART) is a team of agile teams. Additionally, it includes an associated group of stakeholders. An ART frequently delivers valuable functionality into a system.
Agile release trains align to an organization’s value streams. They have between 5 and 12 agile teams and include 50 and 125 individuals. ARTs should include all the necessary skills and experience required to deliver the features into the system.
Coordinating an ART
Work for the ART is coordinated in a two-day planning workshop called ‘PI Planning’. PI planning forecasts achievements for the next 8-12 weeks, called the program increment or ‘PI’. At this event, the teams plan their own work and also collaborate with other teams to uncover and then resolve cross-team dependencies. One of the key outputs from the PI Planning event is a set of PI objectives. These objectives are what the members of the agile release train are committing to deliver before the end of the program increment.
Agile release trains are not project or program teams, created to deliver a specific set of functionality and then disbanded when delivered. They are a stable team of teams that pick up new projects or initiatives as and when they have the capacity to deliver the work.
An ART looks to deliver valuable work at the end of each iteration (or ‘sprint’). The teams within one ART must integrate their work each iteration so that it is demonstrated to stakeholders.
The key coordination roles for an agile release train are, product manager, the system architect, release train engineer, and business owner.
- Product Manager. Prioritizes features. Ensures they are well described and understood.
- Release Train Engineer. Responsible for ensuring the teams within the agile release train work well together. Ensures the teams follow the processes.
- Business Owner. Key stakeholders who are ultimately responsible for the business outcome.
- System Architect. Responsible for designing and sharing the architectural vision across the agile release train. Also, ensures the work fit for purpose delivery.
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