What Is SAFe Agile?
SAFe, an acronym for Scaled Agile Framework, serves as a comprehensive knowledge base for development and Scrum teams aiming to implement Agile principles in large-scale organisations. Developed by Lean-Agile experts Dean Leffingwell and Drew Jemilo, SAFe emerged in 2011 and has steadily gained popularity over time. According to the KPMG Global Agile Survey conducted in 2019, which encompassed 120 participants across 17 countries, SAFe emerged as the most widely adopted framework for scaling Agile practices.
SAFe combines insights from four key areas: Agile development, Lean product development, systems thinking, and DevOps. By blending Lean and Agile practices, it enables enterprises to enhance their business agility and navigate growth effectively. SAFe is organised into four distinct segments: Team Level, Program Level, Portfolio Level, and Large Solution Level. The first two segments are sometimes merged, known as Essential SAFe, while all four together form Full SAFe. This framework provides organisations with valuable guidance on how to operate seamlessly across these levels, fostering collaboration and achieving optimal outcomes.
Core SAFe Vales
Rooted in the Agile Manifesto, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) upholds four fundamental core values. These values are:
In the process of scaling Agile, it becomes crucial for companies to establish a unified front, where all teams are aligned and actively working towards a shared goal. This holds even greater significance for geographically dispersed teams, as misalignment can impede an organisation’s agility and responsiveness to change.
Recognizing this challenge, SAFe provides robust support for alignment by defining clear team roles, such as the Scrum master, and facilitating synchronised activities. By implementing SAFe, organisations can effectively stay on par with competitors and maintain their ability to adapt swiftly to evolving circumstances.
Within the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), an emphasis is placed on upholding a high standard of quality, treating it as a priority rather than an afterthought. This becomes particularly crucial in the context of large-scale systems where untested batches can accumulate rapidly.
SAFe addresses this challenge by integrating quality standards into the development life cycle. It recognises five key categories for built-in quality: flow, architecture and design quality, code quality, system quality, and release quality. By incorporating these quality measures, SAFe enables organisations to proactively address potential issues, maintain a robust development process, and deliver reliable outcomes.
Transparency plays a vital role in cultivating trust within teams and fostering an open environment within organisations. Recognizing its significance, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) actively promotes transparency as a core principle. SAFe achieves this by ensuring full visibility into team backlogs, clearly articulating goals, and breaking down workloads into manageable short-term commitments.
By adopting such practices, SAFe enables teams to promptly identify and address obstacles, facilitating proactive problem-solving and enhancing collaboration. This commitment to transparency establishes a foundation of trust and empowers teams to work together effectively, ultimately driving the success of the organisation as a whole.
One of the fundamental principles of both SAFe and Agile is the production of working software. It is essential for teams to effectively execute programmes that generate tangible business value. Recognizing this critical aspect, SAFe places significant emphasis on establishing reliable systems that consistently deliver profitable outcomes. To achieve this, SAFe emphasises four core values that require a leader with a strong Lean-Agile mindset.
By harnessing the flow-management principles of Lean in conjunction with the iterative approach of Agile, leaders can empower their teams to accelerate enterprise delivery and enhance customer satisfaction. Furthermore, these leaders must possess a passion for continuous learning, embracing new methodologies and encouraging their teams to adopt them. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, leaders contribute to the long-term success and growth of their organisations.
How Does SAFe Work?
Organizations embarking on the SAFe implementation journey typically possess executive-level sponsorship, a strong drive for change, and a foundation in Scrum. To guide this transformative process, Scaled Agile, Inc. provides a comprehensive SAFe implementation roadmap, offering detailed steps to initiate and establish widespread adoption across portfolios. The roadmap consists of 12 key steps:
- Reaching the Tipping Point: Recognize the need for change and gain organisational consensus.
- Train Lean-Agile Change Agents: Equip individuals to drive and facilitate the transformation.
- Train Executives, Managers, and Leaders: Educate key stakeholders on SAFe principles and practices.
- Create a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence: Establish a dedicated team to support and guide the implementation process.
- Identify Value Streams and ARTs (Agile Release Trains): Identify the value streams and align them with Agile Release Trains.
- Create the Implementation Plan: Develop a comprehensive plan outlining the implementation strategy and milestones.
- Prepare for ART Launch: Assemble and prepare the Agile Release Train for launch.
- Train Teams and Launch the ART: Provide training to teams and initiate the first Agile Release Train.
- Coach the ART Execution: Offer ongoing coaching and support to the Agile Release Train for successful execution.
- Launch More ARTs and Value Streams: Extend the implementation to additional Agile Release Trains and value streams.
- Extend to the Portfolio: Expand the implementation to the portfolio level, aligning multiple value streams.
- Sustain and Improve: Continuously monitor and refine the implementation, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
By following these 12 steps, organisations can effectively navigate their SAFe implementation, fostering alignment, collaboration, and agility across the entire enterprise.
The 10 SAFe Principles
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) provides a set of ten guiding principles for Agile teams. These principles are designed to foster effective collaboration, streamline processes, and drive successful outcomes. The ten principles for Agile teams in SAFe are as follows:
In the Agile approach, variability is an inherent aspect that cannot be avoided. Rather than shying away from it, developers are encouraged to master the art of managing variability and preserving options through a set-based design approach.
This involves initiating the creation of multiple design choices at the outset, regularly evaluating them, and subsequently eliminating options as necessary. By adopting this approach, Agile teams can proactively adapt to changing requirements, optimise their decision-making processes, and ultimately enhance the overall quality and efficiency of their solutions.
Build In Short Increments
In line with this principle, the objective is to mitigate risk by initiating the creation of a range of design options rather than relying solely on a single approach. Throughout the development process, Agile teams adopt an incremental approach, building the solution in successive iterations.
Each timeboxed period allows for continuous improvement, enabling the team to enhance the solution based on the lessons learned from the previous iterations. By embracing this iterative approach, Agile teams can effectively manage risk, optimise their development process, and deliver incremental value with each iteration.
Use Systems Thinking
Systems thinking, a crucial aspect of SAFe, encompasses three fundamental concepts: recognising that the solution itself is a system, acknowledging the enterprise building the system as a system and optimising the entire value stream. SAFe simplifies these concepts to provide a comprehensive and holistic view of solution development.
By embracing systems thinking, organisations gain a deeper understanding of the interdependencies, interactions, and complexities involved in their solutions. This holistic perspective enables effective decision-making, promotes alignment across the enterprise, and ultimately enhances the overall value delivery process.
Limit Work In Progress
To optimise the flow of work, SAFe advocates for three essential elements. Firstly, teams can enhance visibility by utilising a Kanban board, which provides a clear visual representation of the workflow. This enables teams to track and manage tasks more effectively, promoting transparency and collaboration.
Secondly, creating smaller work batches is recommended to minimise holding and transaction costs. By breaking down work into smaller, manageable units, teams can reduce delays and optimise the overall flow of work. This approach promotes agility and responsiveness to changes, enabling faster and more efficient delivery.
Lastly, increasing the processing rate is crucial to shorten wait times and maintain a steady flow of work. Teams can focus on improving efficiency, eliminating bottlenecks, and continuously enhancing their processes to accelerate the rate at which work is completed.
SAFe provides a set of distinct organisational patterns that, when employed by enterprises, enable them to swiftly produce deliverables and respond effectively to evolving customer demands. This approach adds structure to the Agile environment, promoting efficient workflows and maximising the value delivered.
By leveraging the prescribed organisational patterns in SAFe, enterprises can establish a framework that aligns teams, processes, and resources, fostering collaboration and coordination. This framework enables organisations to adapt rapidly to changing market dynamics, customer needs, and emerging opportunities. It creates a structured environment where teams can efficiently collaborate, iterate, and deliver value, ensuring that the enterprise remains competitive in today’s fast-paced business landscape.
Base Milestones On Customer Value
In the context of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), teams are encouraged to utilise a working system as a model to inform their decision-making processes and facilitate milestone planning. By having a tangible, functional system in place, teams can make more informed decisions about design, development, and testing milestones.
Regular input from stakeholders plays a crucial role in this process. By incorporating stakeholder feedback at regular intervals, teams ensure that the potential for return on investment (ROI) remains strong throughout the development lifecycle. This iterative feedback loop allows teams to adapt and refine their approach, incorporating valuable insights from stakeholders to align the system’s evolution with business goals and customer needs.
Focus On Economics
Within the SAFe model, the importance of good economics is emphasised, aligning with the principles of Lean methodology. SAFe promotes the practices of delivering early and frequently, coupled with the application of an economics framework. By adopting these practices, organisations can effectively reduce delays, shorten lead time, and ultimately achieve cost savings.
The practice of delivering early and often ensures that value is continuously delivered to customers, enabling rapid feedback and validation. This iterative approach minimises the risk of lengthy development cycles without tangible outcomes. Additionally, by applying an economics framework, organisations can strategically evaluate the costs and benefits associated with each aspect of their value stream, identifying opportunities for optimisation and efficiency gains.
Plan Across Multiple Teams
Incorporating rhythmic patterns of events into the development process brings a sense of routine and structure. By synchronising these cadences, multiple events can take place simultaneously, fostering a diverse range of perspectives that contribute to informed decision-making.
The introduction of synchronised cadences in the development process establishes a predictable rhythm and cadence for activities such as planning, reviews, and retrospectives. This regularity helps teams establish a shared understanding of expectations and timelines, enabling smoother collaboration and reducing uncertainty.
Moreover, synchronised cadences facilitate the convergence of different viewpoints and expertise. By aligning events across teams and disciplines, diverse perspectives are brought together, stimulating robust discussions and enhancing decision-making. This convergence of ideas contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges at hand and promotes innovative solutions.
Motivate Your Team
In the SAFe model, leaders have the opportunity to motivate their workers through various means. Firstly, considering the role of compensation as an incentive can be an effective approach. By offering competitive and fair compensation packages, leaders can recognise and reward the valuable contributions of their team members, fostering a sense of motivation and engagement.
Secondly, leaders can cultivate motivation by actively listening to their team members and providing regular feedback. By creating an environment where open communication is encouraged, leaders can understand the needs and aspirations of their team members, address concerns, and provide guidance. Regular feedback sessions enable ongoing performance improvement, reinforcing a sense of growth and progress.
Additionally, granting team members autonomy in their work plays a significant role in motivation. When individuals have the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their tasks, it fosters a sense of empowerment and accountability. Autonomy allows team members to exercise their skills and expertise, resulting in increased motivation, creativity, and productivity.
Everyone Can Make Decisions
In the context of scaling Agile at an enterprise level, a balance needs to be struck between strategic decisions made by leaders and empowering team members to make other relevant choices. By delegating frequent and time-critical decisions to the team, leaders can alleviate their workload and focus on larger priorities.
This delegation of decision-making empowers teams to take ownership of their work and respond swiftly to emerging challenges. By entrusting teams with these responsibilities, leaders foster a culture of autonomy and accountability, enabling teams to make informed decisions aligned with the overall strategic direction.
The aforementioned principles serve as a valuable guide for teams as they navigate the complexities of scaling Agile within the enterprise. By adhering to these principles, teams can effectively strike the right balance between centralised decision-making and decentralised autonomy, thereby driving efficient and collaborative practices throughout the organisation.
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) provides an extensive knowledge base and guidance that offers a range of benefits for Agile and Scrum teams. These benefits are reflected in the framework’s four core values, which include enhanced alignment, high-quality products, increased transparency, and successful execution.
One of the key advantages of SAFe is the ability to facilitate effective collaboration among multiple Agile teams or an Agile release train working on a shared project. This improves employee engagement and productivity, as teams can work together seamlessly towards a common goal.
SAFe also brings clarity and structure to organisations through its clear definitions and boundaries. This simplified structure helps establish a sense of order, enabling teams to work more efficiently and effectively.
By optimising the flow of value, SAFe contributes to faster time to market, shortening lead time and accelerating product delivery. This ensures that organisations can swiftly respond to market demands and deliver value to customers in a timely manner.
While the benefits of SAFe are apparent, it is important to consider whether it is the right framework for your team. Various factors, such as team dynamics, organisational culture, and project requirements, should be taken into account when making this decision. Evaluating these factors will help you determine the suitability and potential benefits of implementing SAFe within your team or organisation.
How To Know If The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Is Right For Your Team
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is particularly well-suited for large projects, including expansive Scrum initiatives. If an enterprise aims to achieve Agile at scale, spanning multi-team portfolios and programmes, SAFe can be an ideal option to consider. It provides a comprehensive framework to support the successful implementation of Agile practices across the organisation.
Another scenario where SAFe can be beneficial is when an enterprise has previously attempted to scale Agile but faces challenges related to lack of uniformity, alignment, and consistency. SAFe offers an effective organisational strategy that promotes unity and alignment among teams operating across different departments. It provides guidance and structure to overcome these obstacles and establish a more cohesive Agile environment.
SAFe is also suitable for organisations that are in the early stages of transitioning to Agile. For those who are new to Agile, understanding the underlying values, principles, and management roles can be overwhelming. SAFe addresses this challenge by providing a well-defined framework that aids in structuring teams and facilitating a smoother adoption of the Agile methodology.
Considering the specific context of your enterprise, such as project size, alignment challenges, or Agile adoption stage, can help determine if SAFe is the right fit. It offers a proven framework designed to support large-scale Agile implementations, promote alignment, and facilitate a successful transition to Agile practices.
While the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has gained significant popularity among enterprises with large software development teams, it is essential to acknowledge that other scaled agile frameworks have also emerged. These frameworks share five main components that are foundational to scaling agile effectively: drawing inspiration from the 12 Agile Manifesto principles, incorporating cadence and synchronisation, leveraging Scrum practices, and emphasising quality development.
By understanding the origins, core differences, and conditions for successful application of alternative scaled agile frameworks, organisations can make informed decisions about which framework aligns best with their specific needs and circumstances. Each framework offers unique perspectives and approaches to scaling agile, and exploring these alternatives can provide valuable insights and options for organisations.
Considering factors such as team size, organisational structure, industry requirements, and the desired outcomes of agile implementation, organisations can evaluate the suitability of different frameworks. By making a well-informed choice, organisations can select a framework that effectively supports their agile scaling initiatives and maximises the potential benefits for their teams and projects.
SAFe vs. Scrum@Scale
In the Scrum@Scale (S@S) framework, every individual becomes part of an interchangeable Scrum team, and these teams collaborate to form a networked ecosystem based on their specific objectives. The main objective of S@S is to establish a network of Scrum teams using a scale-free architecture, which means scaling Scrum roles and events linearly without introducing additional process complexities.
For instance, when dealing with a complex product that involves 25 Scrum teams, a single Scrum of Scrums (SoS) may not suffice. In such cases, a Scrum of Scrum of Scrums (SoSoS) is formed, and a Scrum of Scrum of Scrums Master (SoSM) may be appointed to facilitate coordination and communication across these higher-level structures.
While S@S is generally less prescriptive in nature, it does offer a guiding question to help organisations assess their readiness for scaling: Will the addition of more people to the system lead to exponential performance improvements or hinder productivity? This question encourages organisations to consider the dynamics of scaling and evaluate whether scaling will be beneficial or detrimental.
Similar to SAFe, S@S provides reference materials online, including an extensive Scrum@Scale guide that is gaining popularity. These resources serve as valuable references for organisations implementing S@S and seeking guidance on scaling Scrum effectively.
By adopting the S@S framework, organisations can create a networked ecosystem of Scrum teams, leveraging linear scaling of roles and events to facilitate collaboration, improve coordination, and effectively address the complexities of scaling Agile practices.
Scrum@Scale Is Better When
When implementing Agile practices, several key aspects contribute to its success:
- Object-Oriented Technology Stack: Adopting an object-oriented technology stack enables the delivery of vertical user stories within shorter cycles, typically two weeks. This approach allows for faster and more efficient development and ensures a focus on delivering tangible value to users.
- T-Shaped Skills and Product-Centric Values: A successful Agile organisation comprises feature teams with T-shaped skills, meaning individuals have a broad range of competencies with deep expertise in specific areas. These teams embrace product-centric values, emphasising customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, and collaboration. Additionally, a minimal bureaucratic structure promotes agility and effective decision-making.
- Gradual Adoption of ALM Tools: While Agile or Agile Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools can provide valuable support, it is not essential to introduce them until Agile practices become second nature within the organisation. It is important to prioritise the adoption of Agile principles and practices before relying heavily on specialised tools.
- Supportive Executive Team: The commitment of the executive team is crucial to Agile success. Executives willing to practice Scrum themselves and actively remove impediments for the organisation demonstrate strong support for Agile principles. Their dedication fosters an environment that values transparency, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
By considering these aspects, organisations can establish a solid foundation for Agile implementation. Embracing an object-oriented technology stack, nurturing T-shaped skills and product-centric values, gradually incorporating ALM tools, and having an executive team committed to Agile practices contribute to a successful Agile transformation.
SAFe vs. Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)
Comparing Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) and SAFe
Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) approach scaling Agile in distinct ways, while sharing some common principles. LeSS adopts a minimalist approach, simplifying roles, structure, and artefacts. SAFe offers four configurations to accommodate different team sizes and solution complexities, while LeSS has two configurations: LeSS for two to eight teams and LeSS Huge for more extensive setups.
One significant difference lies in the authority of product owners. LeSS emphasises that product owners should have complete content authority and strategic influence, whereas SAFe promotes a more democratic approach. Additionally, LeSS places a customer-centric focus on paying customers, while SAFe considers various factors in shaping strategy.
Both LeSS and SAFe scale Scrum events, artefacts, and roles, and both emphasise systems thinking, lean thinking, and similar guiding principles. However, LeSS stands out for its heavy emphasis on waste reduction throughout the organisation, striving for continuous improvement in all aspects.
By understanding these differences, organisations can evaluate which framework aligns best with their specific needs and goals. LeSS offers a minimalist approach with a strong customer focus and waste reduction, while SAFe provides more flexibility for larger teams and solution complexities. Ultimately, selecting the most suitable framework involves considering factors such as team size, organisational culture, and the desired outcomes of scaling Agile practices.
LeSS Is Better When
Several indicators contribute to the success of Agile practices within an organisation:
- Mastery of Scrum: Agile success is fostered when Scrum teams have a strong command of Scrum principles, practices, and ceremonies. This mastery enables efficient collaboration, adaptive planning, and iterative development.
- Continuous Restructuring and Experimentation: A supportive leadership that is willing to continuously restructure and experiment is vital for Agile success. This mindset allows for the exploration of innovative approaches, adaptive decision-making, and the ability to pivot when needed.
- Alignment on Product Definition: Success is facilitated when there is alignment on the definition of the product across all stakeholders. This shared understanding ensures clarity, enables effective decision-making, and drives focus towards delivering value to customers.
- Engagement of External Coaches: The involvement of external coaches working with organisational, team, and technical groups enhances Agile success. These coaches provide guidance, support, and valuable expertise to foster continuous improvement, facilitate effective teamwork, and elevate technical skills.
- Feature Teams with T-Shaped Skills: Establishing feature teams with T-shaped skills promotes collaboration, flexibility, and cross-functional capabilities. This composition allows for better knowledge sharing, increased productivity, and effective problem-solving across various areas of expertise.
- Embracing Agile Over Project Management: Agile success is enhanced when organisations are willing to let go of the traditional project management paradigm and fully embrace Agile principles and practices. This shift encourages iterative and value-driven approaches, empowering teams to deliver outcomes that align with customer needs.
By recognising and embracing these indicators, organisations can create an environment conducive to Agile success. Mastery of Scrum, a culture of experimentation, alignment on product definition, engagement of external coaches, feature teams with T-shaped skills, and a shift away from the project management mindset all contribute to fostering a successful Agile transformation.
SAFe vs. Disciplined Agile (DA)
Disciplined Agile (DA) stands apart from other frameworks as it provides organisations with a versatile toolkit to determine the most suitable way of working for their specific needs. This approach empowers organisations to tailor their agile practices effectively.
DA offers a lightweight agile governance framework, drawing from Scrum and Kanban, while also providing transformation knowledge in various areas such as HR and finance, governance, DevOps, portfolio management, and more. This comprehensive toolkit enables organisations to address specific challenges across multiple domains during their agile transformation journey.
One distinctive aspect of DA is its emphasis on situationally applying different levels of scale for each project. This means that DA recognises that different projects may require different levels of agility and tailors the approach accordingly. By embracing situational scaling, organisations can optimise their agile practices based on the unique context and requirements of each project.
Moreover, DA places a strong emphasis on decision-making enablement. It equips teams and leaders with the tools, knowledge, and guidance necessary to make informed decisions that align with the strategic direction of the organisation. This focus on decision-making empowers teams to navigate complexities, address challenges, and achieve successful outcomes.
With its flexible and adaptable nature, Disciplined Agile offers organisations a toolkit that enables them to customise their way of working, incorporate agile governance, and make well-informed decisions. This approach supports organisations in effectively navigating their unique contexts and achieving their desired outcomes.
DA Is Better When
Enabling Organizational Flexibility in Scaled Agile
In the realm of scaled agile, organisations aspire to have the autonomy to define their own path(s) that align with their unique needs and goals. They value the ability to remain flexible across the entire enterprise, adapting their practices as required by specific teams or projects. This flexibility allows organisations to embrace different process and framework choices that best suit their context, preferences, and desired outcomes.
By having the freedom to define their own scaled agile approach, organisations can tailor their practices to fit their specific industry, project complexity, team dynamics, and organisational culture. This flexibility empowers teams and stakeholders to experiment, learn, and evolve their agile practices over time, ensuring a continuous improvement mindset.
Preserving the option to choose the most appropriate process and framework is also highly valued by organisations. This enables them to leverage existing successful practices and frameworks that align with their unique needs, while also adapting and incorporating new approaches as they emerge. By preserving this choice, organisations can optimise their agile implementation and leverage the benefits of diverse methodologies to foster innovation, collaboration, and value delivery.
SAFe vs Spotify
The Spotify model is a set of practices designed to coordinate agile teams in a people-driven and autonomous manner. Although originally not intended as a formal model or framework, some businesses have adopted it as such. At the core of the Spotify model is an emphasis on self-organising, cross-functional, and co-located teams known as “squads” (similar to scrum teams).
Unlike other frameworks like SAFe, the Spotify model does not impose strict requirements for teams to be co-located. However, for PI (Program Increment) planning, co-location is encouraged as it facilitates effective collaboration. Squads are organised into larger units referred to as “tribes,” and dependencies between squads are minimal, typically addressed through Scrum of Scrums when necessary.
To enable knowledge sharing and foster collaboration, the Spotify model utilises informal groups called “chapters” and “guilds.” Chapters consist of individuals with similar skill sets, while guilds are formed around shared interests. These groups provide a platform for individuals to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and enhance their skills.
It is worth noting that compared to other frameworks, resources specifically dedicated to the Spotify model are limited. Currently, publicly available blogs and companion pieces developed by its pioneers and enthusiasts serve as the primary sources of information. However, given the growing popularity of the model, it is likely that we will see more resources and insights emerge in the future.
Spotify Is Better When
To effectively apply Agile principles in your own business context, it is important to consider the following factors:
- Learning-Oriented Organizational Culture: Cultivating a culture that prioritises learning is key. Embrace an environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth, and encourage teams to experiment and take controlled risks. This mindset promotes innovation, continuous improvement, and adaptability.
- Loose Coupling and Close Alignment: Foster a structure where teams and products are loosely coupled but closely aligned. This ensures that teams can work independently while maintaining clear alignment to avoid conflicts and dependencies. This approach enables teams to be agile, make decisions autonomously, and deliver value effectively.
By applying these principles, your organisation can create an environment that promotes agility, fosters learning, and maximises the potential for successful Agile implementation. Embracing a culture of continuous learning, allowing for controlled risk-taking, and establishing loose coupling with close alignment will set the foundation for agile success in your business context.
What Is The Concept of SAFe In Agile?
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe): Enabling Agile at Enterprise Scale
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) provides a comprehensive set of organisational and workflow patterns designed to facilitate the implementation of agile practices at an enterprise scale. This framework serves as a valuable body of knowledge, offering structured guidance on various aspects, including roles and responsibilities, work planning and management, and essential values to uphold.
SAFe equips organisations with a structured approach to scaling Agile, allowing them to navigate the complexities that arise when implementing agile practices across multiple teams, departments, and projects. By leveraging the guidance provided by SAFe, organisations can effectively align their efforts, enhance collaboration, and streamline workflows to achieve agility at scale.
The framework encompasses essential components that enable organisations to successfully adopt and sustain agile practices throughout their enterprise. It provides clarity on the roles and responsibilities of different team members, guides effective work planning and management, and emphasises the core values that underpin the agile mindset.
SAFe serves as a valuable resource for organisations embarking on their agile journey at an enterprise scale. By embracing the principles and practices outlined in the framework, organisations can foster a culture of agility, enhance their ability to respond to change, and ultimately deliver greater value to their customers.
What Are The 4 Principles Of SAFe In Agile?
Guiding Core Values for SAFe Effectiveness
SAFe’s effectiveness is rooted in its four core values: alignment, transparency, respect for people, and relentless improvement. These foundational beliefs serve as guiding principles, shaping the behaviours and actions of all individuals involved in a SAFe portfolio.
Alignment: Alignment ensures that all teams and stakeholders are working together towards a shared vision and common goals. It promotes coordination, collaboration, and synchronisation across the organisation, fostering a cohesive and unified approach.
Transparency: Transparency is vital for building trust and creating an open environment. By promoting transparency, SAFe encourages full visibility into work, progress, and decision-making processes. This transparency enables effective communication, early issue identification, and timely resolution.
Respect for People: SAFe places a strong emphasis on respecting and valuing individuals within the organisation. This value encourages a culture of collaboration, empathy, and inclusivity. It recognises the importance of fostering healthy relationships, supporting personal growth, and nurturing high-performing teams.
Relentless Improvement: SAFe promotes a mindset of continuous learning and improvement. It encourages individuals and teams to proactively seek opportunities for growth, experiment with new ideas, and embrace feedback. This focus on relentless improvement drives innovation, efficiency, and adaptability.
By adhering to these core values, SAFe provides a framework for creating a positive and productive work environment. It fosters alignment, transparency, respect, and a commitment to continuous improvement, enabling organisations to effectively navigate the complexities of scaling Agile practices and achieve better outcomes in their SAFe portfolios.
When Should SAFe Agile Be Used?
Scaling Agile with SAFe for Larger Teams and Organizations
SAFe is frequently employed by teams to scale agile methodologies like Lean, Kanban, and Scrum. It is essential to understand that SAFe is primarily geared towards scaling up in larger teams, organisations, and complex projects, as opposed to smaller initiatives that may not necessitate the comprehensive SAFe framework. It is important to note that SAFe does not alter the fundamental principles of the underlying agile methodologies it incorporates.
By leveraging SAFe, teams can effectively address the challenges that arise when scaling agile practices to encompass larger scopes. SAFe provides a structured framework that enables organisations to align their efforts, enhance collaboration, and synchronise work across multiple teams and departments. This scaling framework helps organisations effectively navigate the complexities that arise in larger and more intricate projects.
However, for smaller teams and less complex projects, adopting the complete SAFe framework may not be necessary. Teams can still utilise agile principles such as Lean, Kanban, or Scrum to enhance their agility without the need for the full SAFe implementation.
Understanding the context and requirements of the specific project or organisation is crucial in determining whether the comprehensive SAFe framework is the most appropriate approach. By selecting the right scaling strategy, organisations can tailor their agile practices to match the size, complexity, and needs of their teams and projects, thereby maximising the benefits of agile methodologies in their unique context.
SAFe Vs Agile
Contrasting SAFe’s Iterative Approach with Agile
SAFe and Agile methodologies differ in their approach to iterations and release planning. While Agile typically lacks a predefined time limit for iterations, SAFe follows an iterative process with four iterations outlined in a release plan.
Agile teams focus on delivering functional solutions to clients iteratively, addressing their needs one iteration at a time. This flexible approach allows for continuous feedback and adaptation throughout the development process, ensuring that the evolving requirements of the client are effectively addressed.
On the other hand, SAFe introduces a more structured framework with specific iterations planned within a release. These iterations provide a predefined timeline and allow for synchronised development efforts across teams. SAFe’s release plan sets clear milestones and objectives, aiding in alignment, coordination, and overall planning at a larger scale.
Both approaches have their merits and suit different contexts. Agile’s flexible nature allows for adaptive development, empowering teams to respond to changing requirements in a timely manner. SAFe, with its defined iterations and release plans, offers a more structured framework suitable for larger-scale projects and organisations that benefit from synchronised development efforts and milestone-driven planning.
Understanding the nuances of each approach helps organisations determine the most suitable methodology for their specific needs and project requirements. Whether adopting Agile’s iterative flexibility or leveraging SAFe’s structured release plan, organisations can tailor their approach to achieve optimal outcomes in their software development endeavours.
Frameworks such as SAFe and others mentioned earlier offer valuable guidance for organisations seeking to scale agile practices and drive business outcomes. However, equally important are the tools that organisations choose to amplify and maximise the benefits of these practices.
If you found this article useful, have a look at our guide to agile and how you can embrace agile development principles in your team. Alternatively, check out how you can validate your startup idea here.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, we’d recommend diving into the following other posts in this Agile series:
- An Introduction to The Agile Methodology
- Themes, Epics and User Stories – The Core Components Of Agile
- Embracing Agile Team Dynamics
- What is SAFe Agile and Why Should I Use It?
- What is Waterfall Development?
- What is Lean Development?
- What is Scrum?
- A Deep Dive Into Epics
- Exploring The Power of User Stories
- How Can I Use Personas?
- Decoding Agile Estimation (Story Pointing)
- Agile Transformation: How Can My Business Start Using Agile?
- The Spotify Approach To Agile Development
- What Is Agile Portfolio Management?
- Agile Glossary
- Agile Statistics