Targetprocess extends Azure DevOps to support SAFe | Targetprocess - Visual management software
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Microsoft Azure Devops is a cloud-based platform for managing source code, builds, packages and CI/CD pipelines. It evolved from Microsoft’s Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server and was rebranded as Azure DevOps Services in 2018.

While it includes boards that are useful for managing team-level backlogs, sprint planning and tactical execution, Azure DevOps was never intended to support enterprise-wide strategic planning based on large-scale agile frameworks like SAFe. The concepts of strategic themes, lean budgeting, portfolio epics, value streams and agile release trains are not natively supported by Azure DevOps.

Workarounds create more problems. Many organizations cobble together homegrown solutions in an attempt to get Azure DevOps to support SAFe. They may add functionality using third-party Azure DevOps extensions. They may build their own custom “levels” using Azure’s hierarchical Area Paths (similar to nested folders) to represent portfolios, programs or value streams. Or they may add text-based tags to group work items for querying and simulating roll ups.

The problem with these workarounds is that they are difficult to maintain, usually create more problems than they solve and do not address the underlying issue: Azure DevOps is a team-based tool that was not designed to handle large-scale agile portfolio planning based on the SAFe framework.

The good news is that Targetprocess supports all of these concepts natively and can be integrated seamlessly with Azure DevOps to solve the challenges of enterprise planning and tracking based on the SAFe framework.

Connect lean budgeting & planning with tactical execution

Azure Devops was designed as a cloud-based platform tool to help teams manage their daily work. There is no native concept of strategic planning or portfolio epics or value streams in Azure DevOps. This means that there is no built-in mechanism for connecting enterprise-wide strategic plans and allocations to the tactical execution of Azure Devops work items.

While work done at the team level may very well be tracked accurately in Azure DevOps, there is no automated way to roll up this team-level progress and status to verify that the tactical execution of work is aligned with the desired solution portfolio, value streams and lean budget allocation plans.

Targetprocess solves this challenge by rolling up Azure DevOps team-level data to Portfolio Epics and Agile Release Trains.
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Portfolio Kanban. The Epic state is automatically updated according to the state of related Capabilities or Features
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Epic actuals get updated based on rolled-up Feature and Story effort and state

Build roadmap, program and portfolio views

With no automated way to aggregate program and portfolio level status updates from teams using Azure DevOps, release train engineers and portfolio managers often resort to building their status reports manually. They may use Microsoft Project, Powerpoint, or Excel spreadsheets, with data exported manually from Azure DevOps via queries based on text-based tags or Area Paths or by manually aggregating multiple team-level reports.

The problem with all of these methods is that there is no direct connection between the portfolio, program and roadmap views and the actual status of Features and User Stories within Azure DevOps. These portfolio and roadmap reports may be out of date before they are even distributed.

Targetprocess solves this challenge by maintaining a continuous connection between program and portfolio level roadmaps with the progress and status of team-level execution in Azure DevOps.
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A transparent view of the complete work-item hierarchy
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Portfolio Epic Roadmap based on related Capability or Feature planning and completion

Gain visibility into relationships and dependencies

Before and during Program Increment (PI) planning, development teams refine high-level estimates, break work into manageable chunks and sequence it across multiple teams based on their capacity and expertise. During this process, teams need to understand, discuss and easily visualize relationships and dependencies across the planned work.

These dependencies need to be visible at multiple levels (portfolio, program and team) within the organization. Azure DevOps does not provide these live, interactive visualizations that depict dependencies spanning multiple programs, large solutions or complex portfolios of work.

Targetprocess solves this challenge by having teams perform PI Planning at the Feature level in Targetprocess and then push these Features to Azure DevOps where refinement, grooming, and detailed planning of individual User Stories can be completed
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Program board with dependencies between user stories and features

How it works — the challenge, the solution, the result

The Challenge

The tools used for strategic planning and lean budgeting are not updated automatically when team-level execution data in Azure DevOps changes

This challenge exists because there is no ability to link the status of tactical team-level execution data in Azure DevOps to the Program, Solution, Portfolio levels used for strategic planning and forecasting.

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The Solution

Perform Lean Portfolio Management and PI Planning in Targetprocess

When PI Planning is complete — the features and user stories are then pushed out to the corresponding epics, stories and teams within Azure DevOps.

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The Result

Enterprise-wide status and metrics are automatically rolled up from Azure DevOps so they are always up-to-date

After PI Planning the teams can use Azure DevOps to assign the work to specific team members, adjust their initial estimates, and then execute and track the status of their work from within Azure DevOps.

As the work progresses, the status and progress of Azure DevOps work items automatically synchronize with the corresponding entities in Targetprocess.

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This provides an ongoing, always up-to-date, enterprise-wide picture of status and progress across your entire organization - from team, to program to portfolio levels.

Benefits of connecting Azure DevOps team-level data to Targetprocess

Connecting Targetprocess to Azure DevOps allows you to visualize and manage dependencies, track estimates, and perform lean budgeting and strategic planning in Targetprocess, while managing team-level execution data in Azure DevOps.

This ensures that team-level execution data remains in-sync with strategic objectives, providing an accurate picture of plans, progress and execution status across the enterprise.

Tactical execution is always in-sync with strategic objectives

Using Targetprocess as the “single source of truth” in this fashion will allow development teams to use Azure DevOps to track their day-to-day work and manage code and releases.

And business leaders and RTE’s can keep track of cross-team dependencies, Feature and Epic progress as well as steer the progress based on up-to-date portfolio metrics from within Targetprocess.

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  • Targetprocess was recognized as a Visionary in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools” and was included in the related “Critical Capabilities for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools”

    April 2019, “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools” *

    *Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
  • We have been using Targetprocess for more than three years by now and still been surprised when our teams find news ways and work areas to use it…
    It is really so flexible that we can nearly model and effectively use in each workflow we need. New departments request me from time to time to show them “that tool you have with nice cards ☺

    Jorge Rivero Sanchez
    Innovation Director
  • I love how adaptable and flexible Targetprocess is. It meets the various needs of so many different departments within our organization. We manage all of our IT, creative and legal workflow through Targetprocess. It’s helped create a centralized location for our cross-department needs – as well as providing a history of our work.

    Katie MacCabe
    Assistant Director
  • I used Targetprocess at some very large multi-team multi-program clients and had a consistently good experience.
    I’ve got a lot of experience of Jira, Rally, PivotalTracker, Trello, Mingle and open source agile lifecycle management tools. I like Targetprocess better – it covers a lot more ground, the information architecture is really consistent, it’s solid as a rock and fast too. Best of breed.

    Peter Merel
    CTO and Agile Coach

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