Scaled Agile, the institution behind the SAFe framework, a model for software development, has admitted PA Consulting Group to its Partner programme. The management and technology consultancy has been appointed a Gold partner, and joins an elite group of global SAFe leaders including the likes of peers Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton and CGI.
Over the past decade or so, the importance of technology as a means of enabling strategic goals has boomed. Technology, and related phenomena such as among others the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, Industry 4.0 or cloud, nowadays embody one of the key fundaments for future-proof business models. The economic benefits of such technologies are widely debated, although consensus seems to have been reached on the fact that the potential is staggering. According to A.T. Kearney, by 2020 6% of the globe’s economy will have some relation to IoT, while another estimate, by McKinsey & Company, forecasts that IoT has the capacity to bolt-on up to $11 trillion in economic benefit to the world economy. Blockchain, dubbed by many a game-changing technology, is leaving the financial services reeling on its feet, while across industries robotics is posing both major threats (i.e. destruction of jobs) as well as major opportunities (i.e. efficiency).
At the heart of technological revolution stand the processes that drive IT-led advancement, led by innovation – the top 1,000 corporates alone spend $680 billion annually – and followed by execution. For long technology development has been a daunting task, and according to many it arguably still is and always will be, fact remains that over the past years, on the back of experience, significant advancement has been made in the approaches and tools used to design and develop solutions.
One of the most popular approaches when it comes to software development is ‘The Scaled Agile Framework’ (SAFe), a model developed by Dean Leffingwell, a US-based forty-year software industry veteran. The SAFe approach aims to enable organisations to apply lean-agile practices at enterprise scale, at the end of the line speeding up development projects and lowering risks. The model is based on the concept that developments are broken down into small chunks, which are then worked on in short cycles (‘bursts’) and in an end-to-end fashion (requirements, coding, testing and deployment) through so-called ‘release trains’. SAFe is widely applied by both small or large corporate IT teams, however its edge above other agile frameworks such as scrum, Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), the Waterfall approach or kanban is, according to many, that it is well suited to scaling agile to suit larger software development transitions*.
With the rise of SAFe there followed in its slipstream an entire ecosystem of IT experts, consultants and technology vendors that specialise in the field. In a bid to separate the wheat from the chaff, Leffingwell’s Scaled Agile Framework institution years ago erected a Partner programme, with firms that qualify for the programme earmarked as “certified” top of the bill experts. “Scaled Agile Partners are companies that believe in agility at scale and the power of SAFe to successfully transform organisations. These partners have developed significant expertise in supporting large enterprises and government agencies through every phase of a lean-agile transformation,” says Leffingwell.
To date, just over 100 companies have been admitted to SAFe’s Partner programme, across four levels (SPCT-Gold, Gold, Silver, Bronze), including several consulting firms such as the likes of Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, CGI, Deloitte, IBM, TCS and Unisys. The latest consultancy to join SAFe’s Partner ranks is PA Consulting Group, with more than 2,600 professionals globally one of the larger management and IT consulting firms. PA Consulting Group has joined as a Gold partner, qualifying on the back of 10+ years of experience in agile and IT advisory, and its contribution to what the firm describes as “one of the world's largest adoptions of Scaled Agile”, realised at a global pharmaceutical company.
“By incorporating SAFe into their solution offering, PA Consulting is enabling the world’s largest organisations to become more Agile in the marketplace and more competitive in their industry,” comments Leffingwell.
Jaap Büchli, Managing Partner of PA Consulting in the Netherlands and together with UK-based Adam Hughes the lead partner of PA’s global agile practice, says that he is “delighted” with the recognition. “Agile has grown into a paramount factor for large change initiatives and IT programmes. With the adoption of SAFe we can company-wide work and collaborate with all stakeholders involved: IT teams, executives and business owners. In this manner we can better bridge the gap between project expectations and results.”
* SAFe describes three levels in the organisation: portfolio, programme, and team, while scrum and kanban are used at the team level.