In many cases a SAFe implementation is started when there are already some agile teams in place. Frequently those teams already use some Agile tool. A few Agile ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) tools provide good support for the entire SAFe model but many others are mainly focused on the team level leading many organizations are struggling to figure out how to scale their team-level Agile ALM tool to support their SAFe implementation.
Two examples of such tools that are pretty popular at the team level are Atlassian JIRA and Microsoft TFS.
One option at this point is to move everybody to a tool such as LeanKit that has the flexibility and strength to support the entire SAFe model as described in this document.
Another option is to let teams continue to use the team-level tool they are used to and deeply invested in, but use a tool such as LeanKit to provide the visualization of higher levels of the SAFe model.
The way this would work is that LeanKit boards would be setup using the template for all the levels including the Team Kanban Board. At that point LeanKit integration services (e.g. w/ JIRA or TFS) would be used to keep the LeanKit Team Kanban Boards in sync with the team-level Agile ALM tool so that:
- Team Kanban Boards and Backlogs are populated based on flow of Features into those teams at the Program level and all stories at the team level are properly connected to entities at the Program Kanban Board
- Reporting/visibility up into the higher levels of the model is reflecting activity at the team level (through card connections)
- Teams can use full featured and rich Kanban boards that allows pull, WIP limits spanning in progress/done lanes, customisable board structures, and more. (Most team-level Agile ALM tools will provide basic Kanban capabilities but not enough to really implement Kanban effectively.)