Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Understanding the Solution Train & its Roles and Responsibilities

solution train roles & responsibilities
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, where organizations strive to stay ahead of the competition and deliver innovative products and services, effective coordination and synchronization become paramount. This is where Solution Train, a robust framework within the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), comes into play. It offers a comprehensive approach to managing large-scale solutions by aligning multiple Agile Release Trains and stakeholders toward a common goal. However, the success of any Solution Train hinges on meticulous planning, which forms the bedrock of its effectiveness.

What is a Solution Train?

image Explaining Solution Train
img Source: Scaled Agile Inc

The Solution Train is a way for an organization to work together to create big solutions that involve multiple Agile Release Trains and suppliers. In the SAFe framework, the Solution Train includes specific roles, events, and things that are needed to build these solutions successfully. These solutions are often very important and expensive, and they need to meet certain standards set by the industry and regulators.

Solution Trains help businesses create large solutions, including things like systems that combine technology and physical components, in a way that is efficient and flexible. They bring together different Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and Suppliers who all share a common goal. Solution Trains also help manage the risks and uncertainties that come with developing such large-scale solutions by providing additional roles, artifacts, and events.

Why need Solution Trains?

There could be many reasons to create Solution Trains.

  • Some are created during the new ARTs and Agile teams for addressing larger issues.
  • While some are created using the existing ARTs and Agile Teams. It might be challenging to get along with existing parameters.

Crucial Roles in the Solution Train

Solution Trains are a combination of multiple Agile Release Trains. Many crucial players participate in achieving a successful Solution Train Flow. Apart from the Roles in the ARTs like Release Train Engineer, Product Manager, Product Owner, Scrum Master/Team Coach and Agile teams, other members in the solution train are –

  • Solution Architect: Responsible for designing and overseeing the overall architecture of the solution. They collaborate with the Agile Release Train (ART) to ensure alignment with the enterprise architectural standards and guide the solution’s technical direction.
  • Solution Train Engineer (STE): Acts as the servant leader and facilitator for the Solution Train. The STE coordinates and synchronizes the activities of multiple Agile Release Trains, resolves impediments, and ensures smooth communication and collaboration among trains.
  • Solution Management: Provides oversight and guidance for the entire solution. Solution Management collaborates with Product Management, architects, and business owners to define the solution’s vision, roadmap, and business case. They manage the solution’s backlog, monitor progress, and track the solution’s value delivery.
  • Stakeholders: Represent the interests of various groups such as customers, users, and business units. They provide feedback, prioritize requirements, and validate the solution’s value. Stakeholders actively participate in Solution Demos and Inspect and Adapt (I&A) events to provide input and ensure alignment with business needs.

Apart from this, two other crucial on-demand roles are-

  • System Team: Comprises individuals with specialized skills in infrastructure, DevOps, integration, and system testing. The System Team supports the Agile Release Trains by providing technical guidance, resolving cross-team dependencies, ensuring system stability, and supporting continuous integration and delivery.
  • Shared services- These are on-demand special roles that participate in the success of solution train without dedicated full-time roles.

Responsibilities of Solution Train

Multiple ARTs work closely to deliver the Solution Trainā€™s value with the consistent help of the Solution Train Leaders. Major responsibilities of the Solution Train include-

  • Connecting with customers for consistent feedback and improvements.
  • Planning and creating roadmaps of how they should deliver value and make Solution Train a success. Below is the solution train roadmap with multiple planning horizons.
responsibilities of solution train
Img Source: Scaled Agile Inc

 

  • Building solution capabilities that are higher-level solution behaviors that need multiple ARTs to work together to implement. The team can size the features accordingly so that they can fit in a single PI, as shown below.
building solution capabilities
Img Source: Scaled Agile Inc

The Kanban system manages the backlog to ensure that all capabilities will be evaluated and analyzed before their implementation. The kanban even limits the work in progress to ensure full synchronization across ARTs for delivering value together.

  • Coordinating with ARTs and suppliersĀ 

Solution Trains oversee and manage the development of large solutions within a Planning Increment (PI). They ensure that all teams and suppliers involved are working together in sync and following a shared schedule. Solution Trains facilitate important events like PI Planning, Solution Train syncs, and Solution Demos, which help maintain alignment among all participants. It’s crucial for strategic suppliers to actively participate in these events as they play a vital role in the success of the overall solution.

  • Releasing and Release Governance

Solution Trains ensure coordinated development and deployment, aligned with business and market needs. While teams should ideally have the flexibility to release updates and gain valuable feedback, managing releases in large-scale solutions involves careful governance due to potential social and economic consequences. Regulatory compliance and oversight further add constraints and delays. A dedicated release management function, comprising representatives from Solution Trains, ARTs, and various departments, ensures the authority and knowledge to approve releases. Regular meetings assess content, progress, and quality, while some releases may require additional collaboration, such as customer communication or external regulatory approval.

As you can see Solution Train highly emphasizes having consistent planning and coordination for the success of the solution train.

As teams must not directly jump to the PI planning, they must conduct pre-PI planning to have a better understanding, planning, and delivery of solutions. So you must understand what this additional event includes.

solution train flow
Img Source: Scaled Agile Inc

In conclusion, the Solution Train in SAFe offers a comprehensive and scalable approach to managing large-scale cyber-physical systems. By fostering collaboration, aligning teams, and providing a clear roadmap, the Solution Train ensures efficient delivery of value to customers. It empowers organizations to address complex challenges, adapt to market demands, and achieve continuous improvement. With its emphasis on transparency, accountability, and iterative development, the Solution Train serves as a powerful framework for driving success in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape.