Scaling a Great Engineering Organization with SAFe

This year we’ve begun to adopt the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) at Constant Contact to help us structure our product, business, and architectural efforts so that our organizational and business growth scales effectively.

Great engineering organizations build great products. However, building a great engineering organization and keeping it executing for the business is never easy. Constant Contact’s  engineering organization has a tremendous collection of talent, and continuously looks for ways to improve and make itself great. Our engineering talent have opportunities to work on bleeding edge technology because of the  large investments we have made for the future in JavaScript applications, Ruby applications, and Java backend scale applications. Our team has continued to grow, attracting the best talent in the country. As we grow, we face the challenge of balancing our work across three major categories:

  • Innovation – creating and developing new ideas
  • Supporting, developing, and tweaking our existing products
  • Scaling infrastructure to support our ever-growing customer base

Adopting processes that optimize and empower without stifling creativity

As a complex agile engineering organization, we need to have just enough process to organize the work and empower our teams to set priorities so they deliver high quality services and products with velocity. The goals of our engineering processes are to make sure that each engineer has:

  1. Visibility into our business and team goals and can provide feedback
  2. Traceability to see and understand how their contribution is impacting our customers and our business
  3. Resources and ability to be a great engineer

We firmly believe that if we can provide the above to every engineer, then they can come together in small agile teams, organize their work, and deliver truly outstanding results for our customers.

The Scaled Agile Framework

We are starting to adopt the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to help us structure our product, business, and architectural efforts. SAFe provides a unique way of setting up clear, visible, transparent, and traceable views into the work we want to complete from both a technical and business objective.  Making this insight available to the individual teams allows them to make informed decisions for the work they do each day. The teams can then factor this information into the stories they are selecting for each release/sprint.

To start the SAFe rollout, we’re establishing a common nomenclature across our organization. With the SAFe framework definitions of Theme, Epic, Feature, and Story, we are recasting our internal definitions and making sure we have common definitions rolled out across our organization. We are spending the first quarter normalizing our existing JIRA boards into these newly defined objects and definitions.

At the same time, the management team is working to align our portfolio level thinking to the SAFe methodology. We are looking at our corporate objectives for the year and are starting to work out our business and architectural Themes and Epics. This is all happening while we work on delivering some huge changes for our business in Q1. Like any good agile organization, we’ll look to see what improvements we can make in our engineering process after the rollout.

Watch our blog for more on our journey with SAFe and how we use it to optimize the work that our great team of engineers delivers. Also keep an eye out for our future blog posts on the exciting changes that we are bringing to small business marketing.

If you are an engineer looking to work in a dynamic, empowering engineering organization that cares about making itself great, check out our open positions

Your comments and questions are welcome! Please share them in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. john coaxum says:

    Innovation – creating and developing new ideas
    Supporting, developing, and tweaking our existing products
    Scaling infrastructure to support our ever-growing customer base

    These are valid points for every organization. I again see a lot of way my organization can keep you prepared for the future of technology. So check us out and email soon.

Leave a Comment