SAFe Agile Release Train Launch (ART)

Agile Training


Totemic Tech

Project Background

Totemic Technology Ltd, part of the Totemic Group, have been established over 20 years. They develop award winning, SaaS platform for all banking, portfolio lending, credit, debit and collection needs, within Financial and Leasing Markets.

Totemic’s head offices are based in Grantham, UK, just outside Nottingham and employ over 850 people in the UK and 220 people across the rest of the world.

McKenna Consultants have worked closely with Totemic since autumn 2015 delivering scaled Agile training and coaching to their development teams, leading to a successful Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) implementation and a SAFe Agile Release Train Launch.

Read through the case study to find out how we applied SAFe to a heavily FCA regulated environment.

The Challenge

Totemic Technologies faced the prospect of multiple challenges in the run up to and during their SAFe implementation.

  1. Growth – Totemic Technologies is a growing business. The development teams have experienced rapid growth in the past 6 months.
  2. Distributed Teams – The majority of the software development is undertaken in Grantham, but there are teams in Bristol and Lisbon, Portugal.
  3. Financial Conduct Authority Regulation – Totemic work in a regulatory environment.
  4. SAFe itself – SAFe is new to Totemic Technologies meaning that there was the need for some organisational learning and development.
  5. Complex Products – Totemic work on an array of complex product for multiple clients.

The Solution

McKenna Consultants provided 2 Scaled Agile Framework Program Consultants (SPCs) to supply Totemic Technologies with the following services to support their ART Launch:

  • Initial SAFe Implementation Consultancy
  • Leading SAFe Training Courses
  • Portfolio and Program Consultancy
  • Release Train Engineer (RTE) Coaching
  • Program Increment Planning Facilitation
  • General SAFe Consultancy and Guidance


Upon the successful launch of the ART and implementation and adoption of a SAFe Framework, Totemic have developed their own unique blend of SAFe to work for their organisation with the planning and guidance of McKenna Consultants.

Totemic Technology are committed to making SAFe a success, so enlisted the experience of McKenna Consultants to deliver the Leading SAFe training course to all of the people involved. This investment prompted the need to recruit further new roles and reaffirm the responsibilities of existing roles. Utilising the SAFe guidelines of responsibilities, new job descriptions were issued and further investment made in professional development to achieve a rapid understanding, alignment and motivation across the teams.

The initial Agile Release Train launched with 3 teams in order to allow Totemic Technology to develop a cadence and become comfortable with this new way of working. As they become more at home with SAFe, more teams will join the ART in future Program Increments.

The first Program Increment Planning was, as expected, hectic and enjoyable! The second Program Increment Planning involves more teams from different countries and more people, so a smaller first one was a valuable learning experience.

Totemic Technology are confident that SAFe will continue to support them during their growth, enabling them to seamlessly scale the team up, motivate them, deliver value and align the teams to the company strategy.

McKenna Consultants made the implementation of SAFe and Launch of our Agile Release Train easy, pain free and valuable. Their experience of handling successful Agile transformations was evident with their practical guidance, knowledge of SAFe and excellent suggestions. We are continuing to work with McKenna Consultants as we continue to grow, face new challenges and refine our processes to make SAFe work for us.

Matt, Release Train Engineer (RTE)