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A day in the life of a SAFe Practice Consultant (SPC)

a day in the life of SAFe practice consultant
Before we start the article, let’s rename the SAFe Program Consultant as SAFe Practice Consultant as it is renamed in the SAFe 6.0 version.
In this blog, let’s look at SAFe Practice Consultant’s (earlier called SAFe Program Consultant) day out.

Introduction
In the ever-changing landscape of software development and project management, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has emerged as a comprehensive and adaptable solution for organizations seeking to scale Agile practices to larger programs and portfolios. A SAFe Practice Consultant (earlier called SAFe Program Consultant) plays a pivotal role in guiding these organizations through the complexities of implementing and sustaining the SAFe framework successfully. In this article, we will dive into a day in the life of a SAFe Practice Consultant (earlier called SAFe Program Consultant) and explore the challenges, responsibilities, and rewards they encounter in their professional journey.

Who is a SAFe Practice Consultant (earlier called an SAFe Program Consultant)?
A SAFe Practice Consultant (earlier called an SAFe Program Consultant) is an individual who has undergone rigorous training and certification provided by Scaled Agile, the organization behind SAFe. The SPC is well-versed in the principles, practices, and intricacies of the SAFe framework and is responsible for assisting organizations in their agile transformation journey.

As an SPC, one must be adept at coaching, mentoring, and educating leaders, teams, and stakeholders at all levels of the organization. They are expected to foster a culture of continuous improvement and help organizations achieve higher levels of business agility through the successful implementation of SAFe.
Please Note: The below article mentions morning, afternoon, evening, etc. This doesn’t mean SPC will do the below-mentioned actions at that point. This is just to show how they spread themselves in multiple activities of SAFe transformation.

Early Morning: Setting the Stage
The typical day of a SAFe Practice Consultant (earlier called as SAFe Program Consultant) begins with preparing for the day ahead. This may involve reviewing the agenda for workshops or training sessions scheduled for the day, responding to emails, and catching up on any industry news or updates related to SAFe and Agile practices.

One of the core responsibilities of an SPC is conducting training sessions for various teams within the organization. These training sessions might include SAFe for Teams, Leading SAFe, or SAFe Scrum Masters, SAFe POPM, SAFe LPM, SAFe APM, SAFe DevOps etc.

The morning might kick off with facilitating a Leading SAFe training for a group of executives and senior leaders. During this session, the SPC focuses on conveying the underlying principles of SAFe and the importance of alignment and collaboration across the organization.

Morning: Implementing SAFe
SPCs apply and often lead many of the critical moves of the SAFe Implementation Roadmap.

Implementing SAFe roadmap
Credit: Scaled Agile Inc

 

Noon: Guiding Agile Release Trains
In the afternoon, the SPC’s attention might shift to guiding Agile Release Trains (ARTs). ARTs are teams of Agile teams that work together to deliver value in a structured and synchronized manner. The SPC collaborates with the Release Train Engineer (RTE) and other stakeholders to ensure that the ART is following SAFe practices effectively.

A significant part of the SPC’s role involves facilitating ART events, such as PI Planning (Program Increment Planning). PI Planning is a crucial event where teams come together to plan and align their work for the upcoming Program Increment (PI). As the facilitator, the SPC ensures that the PI Planning session runs smoothly, teams collaboratively identify dependencies and set achievable objectives for the PI.

After Noon: Coaching Flow
SPC is responsible for making sure leaders and teams are coached on the Flow mindset. Flow has become a key element in SAFe 6.0. It’s important that SPC understand and coach on the following aspects of flow.
• Facilitation of value stream workshops and value stream mapping
• Enable leaders to establish the Kanban System
• Understand and measure flow-based metrics like flow predictability, flow velocity, flow time, flow load, and flow efficiency.
• Apply 8 flow accelerators based on John Kotter’s 8-flow accelerators
• Glow a flow mindset

Value Stream Mapping

value streammapping

Flow Metrics

flow metrics

Late Afternoon: Coaching and Mentoring
As the day progresses, the SPC might have individual coaching and mentoring sessions scheduled with RTEs, PMs, Architects, Scrum Masters, Product Owners, or Agile team members. These sessions provide an opportunity for the SPC to address specific challenges, offer guidance, and provide feedback on the teams’ Agile practices.

Coaching sessions can cover a wide range of topics, including backlog refinement techniques, effective retrospective practices, or strategies for improving continuous integration and deployment processes. The SPC must tailor their approach to suit the unique needs and context of each team they work with.

Evening: Accelerating Business Agility
SPCs keep the long-term business agility vision moving. They enable business agility, not by over-optimizing a piece of the system, but by optimizing the system as a whole. Additionally, SPCs measure and cultivate competencies at all levels, run workshops, foster training opportunities, and assist new SPCs in their roles. SPCs sense and create opportunities to:

1. Extend Agility across Business
2. Measure and Grow the core competencies
3. Expand the SPC tool
4. Sustain and change

Evening: Embodying Lean-Agile Mindset
SPCs lead change conversations across multiple business departments and organizational hierarchies. To be credible and effective, they must speak with knowledge and competence. In addition, to inspire changes in the behaviors of others, SPCs first create change in themselves. Required mastery and knowledge include:

Exhibit the Lean-Agile Mindset – To help others achieve a Lean-Agile Mindset, each SPC must lead the way. This will be a continuous journey each SPC must choose to take.

Demonstrate the SAFe Core Values – By exemplifying respect for people, alignment, transparency, and relentless improvement, SPCs demonstrate a common value system and inspire others to the same beliefs.

Utilize the SAFe Principles – SPCs have internalized the SAFe Principles and know how to use them to initiate and sustain conversations that inspire change.

Late Evening: Reflecting and Planning
SPC takes time to reflect. They may assess the effectiveness of their training sessions, identify areas of improvement, and think about how they can better support the teams they work with.

Furthermore, the SPC might spend time preparing for upcoming engagements, reviewing the materials for the next day’s training session, or updating their knowledge base to stay current with the latest developments in Agile and SAFe practices.

Challenges Faced by SAFe Practice Consultant (earlier called SAFe Program Consultant)

Being a SAFe Program Consultant comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most significant challenges is navigating the complexities of organizational culture. Each organization has its unique culture and history, and introducing Agile and SAFe principles can be met with resistance and skepticism.

Another challenge is dealing with resistance from team members who might be reluctant to adopt new practices or are uncertain about the benefits of Agile methodologies. The SPC must be skilled in addressing these concerns with empathy and patience while providing concrete examples of how Agile practices can lead to improved efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Satisfaction and Reward
Despite the challenges, being a SAFe Practice Consultant (earlier called an SAFe Program Consultant) can be incredibly rewarding. Witnessing the transformation of an organization from a rigid, hierarchical structure to an agile, collaborative environment is a gratifying experience. The SPC plays a crucial role in guiding the organization through this change and witnessing the positive impact on team members, stakeholders, and the overall business.
Additionally, the continuous learning and growth opportunities that come with the role of an SPC are highly rewarding. As they work with different organizations and teams, SPCs gain exposure to various industries and domains, deepening their understanding of the challenges faced by different organizations.

In summary, here are the responsibilities of SPC.

responsibilities of spc

Conclusion
A day in the life of a SAFe Practice Consultant (earlier called an SAFe Program Consultant) is dynamic, challenging, and fulfilling. From conducting training sessions to guiding Agile Release Trains and coaching individual teams, the SPC plays a vital role in transforming organizations into agile and adaptive entities. Despite the challenges, the rewards of witnessing positive change and helping organizations achieve higher levels of business agility make this role deeply satisfying for those passionate about Agile methodologies and continuous improvement.

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