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Who is a SAFe Practice Consultant (SPC)?

who is a safe practice consultant

SAFe Practice Consultant (SPC) is a certified change agent who combine their technical knowledge of SAFe with an intrinsic motivation to improve the company’s software, systems, and Agile business processes. SPCs play a critical role in successfully implementing SAFe. They come from numerous internal or external roles, including business and technology leaders, portfolio/program/project managers, process leads, architects, analysts, and consultants.

As enterprises undertake digital transformation, the need to achieve organizational agility has become imperative. Scaling agile practices requires committed change agents with the skills and experience to drive sustainable transformations. These critical guides are SAFe Practice Consultants (SPCs).

Certified by Scaled Agile Inc., SAFe Practice Consultants shepherd companies along the journey from siloed waterfall workflows all the way to deeply ingrained Lean-Agile culture. They serve a number of crucial roles:

Embodied Agile Mentors

SPCs “walk the talk” when it comes to living agile values and principles day-to-day. They model the Lean-Agile Mindset in all their interactions, radiating the SAFe core values of alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution. This personal commitment earns them the credibility to influence organizations at all levels to adopt new behaviors.

More specifically, SPCs lead the way in exhibiting key aspects of the Agile mindset:

  • Respect for People and Culture – SPCs respect and empower others to unlock their best work. They foster psychological safety on teams to encourage speaking up.
  • Flow and Customer Focus – Keeping value flowing rapidly to customers is always top of mind. SPCs remove barriers to flow and align decisions to customer needs.
  • Lean Thinking – They embrace small experiments, fast feedback, and fact-based decisions to drive continuous improvement.
  • Life-Long Learning – SPCs model personal and professional growth through voracious learning. They transfer this self-improvement mindset organisation-wide.

By living these attitudes daily and demonstrating tangible wins, SPCs gain trust to influence teams, leaders and executives towards Lean-Agile behavior change. They essentially “teach by example” that new mindsets work. Without this embodied credibility, SPCs would struggle to enable the deep levels of enterprise transformation SAFe requires. Their passion shines through to help spread agile thinking virally across complex systems.

SAFe Implementation Architects

Armed with extensive SAFe training and implementation expertise, SPCs architect the rollout of scaled agile methodology. They understand all steps of the SAFe Implementation Roadmap and lead many critical moves, from launching the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence to coaching teams through their first Program Increments.

Some of the key activities SPCs architect and facilitate include:

  • Creating Transformation Roadmaps based on assessing the organization’s capabilities and constraints
  • Establishing the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence to drive the coordinated transformation
  • Training executives, leaders, managers and teams on Lean, Agile + SAFe principles
  • Conducting value stream mapping workshops to spotlight value flows and waste
  • Helping launch Agile teams, ARTs (Agile Release Trains) and solution trains
  • Defining governance cadences, metrics and non-functional requirements
  • Coaching teams and programs on backlog refinement, PI planning, execution, review and more
  • Evolving roles, mindsets, behaviors and competencies with each Program Increment

Their methodical approach ensures all parts of the organization advance in sync towards greater agility. SPCs architect transformations to minimize disruption, while sequencing activities for maximum impact and sustainability. They take an iterative approach – building on early wins to gain support for enterprise-wide change. With roadmaps set by SAFe experts, companies can feel confident their ambitious agility initiatives will stay on track.

Relentless Coaches and Teachers

Whether they are training leaders and teams in workshops, facilitating launch readiness, or continuously coaching teams and programs to reach higher maturity, SPCs take hands-on responsibility for agile skill-building.

Some of the main ways SPCs coach others in adopting new Lean-Agile mindsets and practices include:

  • Conducting intensive workshops on Lean-Agile principles and SAFe fundamentals for large groups
  • Providing in-depth training on the roles, rituals and norms for Agile teams, Scrum Masters, Product Owners etc.
  • Developing educational content like presentations, videos and quick reference guides
  • Holding office hours and chat sessions for program teams to troubleshoot in real-time
  • Authoring blog posts and newsletter updates to reinforce new concepts
  • Coaching teams on estimating, planning, delivering value in Program Increments
  • Advising Product Owners and Managers on Vision, Roadmap, and backlog practices
  • Facilitating innovation workshops focused on Design Thinking and customer needs
  • Evaluating team health through observing key meetings and rituals
  • Convening Communities of Practice to share effective practices across teams
  • Capturing and spreading success stories to inspire further adoption

SPCs recognize human factors drive transformation success, so relentlessly focus energy on competency development. They view teaching SAFe concepts as only the starting point. By observing actual adoption challenges, they adapt instruction and mentorship to ensure new practices truly stick. This determination to upgrade individual, team and organizational skills makes SPCs revered experts in sustaining change.

Flow sherpas

SPCs are devoted to smoothing value stream flow by applying metrics, visualization, and SAFe’s built-in flow accelerators. They lead value stream mapping workshops to shine light on barriers and delays. They work tirelessly to establish cadence, visibility, limited WIP, and continuous improvement culture so that value flows rapidly from strategy to customer.

Some of the main ways SPCs act as flow sherpas include:

  • Facilitating end-to-end value stream mapping to uncover waste and barriers
  • Instituting Kanban practices to visualize workflow and limit work-in-progress
  • Coaching teams on developing cadence and synchronizing with Program Increment (PI) boundaries
  • Advocating for keeping work items small and priorities ruthlessly focused
  • Encouraging Product Owners to break down Epics and features for continuous delivery
  • Motivating teams to demonstrate working functionality every two weeks
  • Setting up automated testing, integration, and deployment pipelines
  • Measuring cycle time and throughput to benchmark and improve flow
  • Analyzing blocked impediments and escalating when necessary
  • Streamlining governance processes around reviews and approvals
  • Improving collaboration and communication workflows with other groups
  • Applying innovative process enhancements like Scrumban to accelerate flow

Like expert mountain guides, SPC flow sherpas light the path forward when teams get mired. They seize every opportunity to increase flow velocity, promote work-in-process transparency, and achieve regular delivery cadence. Over time, these reliable patterns enable organizations to reach extraordinary throughput. By internalizing and spreading flow-optimization know-how, SPCs transform mindsets around achieving fit-for-purpose value delivery.

Business Agility Activists

While launching teams and ARTs produces early wins, SPCs maintain the long-view focus on achieving full business agility. They assess and upgrade competencies, measure outcomes, and continue evolving roles, processes, and systems towards a truly Lean-Agile enterprise. They also passionately grow the SPC network to sustain changes.

Some of the key ways SPCs accelerate business agility include:

  • Measuring progress on Continuous Delivery competency with metrics like release frequency
  • Assessing Lean Portfolio Management skills by evaluating strategy alignment to execution
  • Diagnosing organizational Agile fluency with assessments and maturity models
  • Conducting interviews to capture insights on culture shifts over time
  • Identifying remaining pockets of resistance to target with further coaching
  • Creating competency matrices and upgrading role descriptions
  • Expanding communities of practice for ongoing learning and innovation
  • Celebrating wins and capabilities gained at the team, program, and organizational level
  • Coaching expansion of Agile practices to new parts of the organization
  • Certifying new SPCs to enhance internal capacity for transformation
  • Gradually decentralizing reliance on SPCs as broader expertise grows

SPCs always maintain a dashboard view of the overall organizational system – not just the initial teams or departments transformed. They benchmark progress towards goals like improved time-to-market, higher customer satisfaction, and enhanced employee engagement. By tying transformation successes to strategic business objectives, they secure executive buy-in to fund further initiatives. SPCs think big, while executing iteratively, to elevate companies to new levels of customer centricity.

Final Words

SAFe Practice Consultants serve as the glue that binds agile transformation efforts across complex, multifaceted organizations. With their deep expertise, hands-on coaching, and tireless drive, SPCs shepherd enterprises through what is often a difficult culture shift. They embody the Lean-Agile mindset in their daily work, architect pragmatic rollouts, coach new behaviors, smooth frictions impeding flow, and accelerate strategic business agility.

SPCs meet enterprises where they stand in their journey, then relentlessly meet them where they need to be, no matter how ambitious the vision. They view roadblocks as teaching moments and play the long game in upgrading skills and mindsets. These respected change agents will continue playing an integral role in the global movement towards organizational agility. By unleashing human potential through new ways of working, SAFe Practice Consultants guide the future of work for the better.

Want to Become a SAFe Practice Consultant? Enroll in our 4 days Training of Implementing SAFe and become a certified SPC.