Scaling Agile for SKA: Adoption of SAFe as the large-scale agile methodology for the construction of the SKA software systems

Juan Carlos Guzman1

1CSIRO, Bentley, WA, Australia


The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project has completed most of the design work and started to prepare for construction due to commence at the end of 2020. A large fraction of the construction effort will be dedicated to software development, estimated at around 600+ FTE over 6 years of construction and distributed in multiple teams across the globe. To tackle this large-scale distributed development effort, the SKA Office decided to adopt the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). SAFe is a proven, publicly-facing framework for applying
Lean and Agile practices at enterprise scale, and one of the most popular large-scale agile methodologies in the market.

To gain experience in this new methodology, the SKA has started to use it in the context of the “bridging” activities, that is the time between the end of design and start of construction. We are currently in the second increment with 12 active agile teams continuing prototyping work and addressing key areas for the upcoming System Critical Design Review (CDR) scheduled for the end of this year.

This talk will introduce SAFe, why it was chosen for the SKA and shared some early results on this new large-scale agile software methodology applied to a big research project.


Juan Carlos (JC) Guzman is the Head of the Software and Computing Group at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science. He joined CSIRO in 2007 and has been working mainly in the ASKAP project, fulfilling many roles including Developer, Architect, Team and Group leadership. He also has been contributing to the SKA project since 2012. Before joining CSIRO he worked at the European Souther Observatory (ESO) in Chile developing monitoring and control system software for several optical telescopes located in the Chilean desert.


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