The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is a leading framework for scaling Agile in large enterprises. It is a set of workflow patterns and principles for implementing agile practices at an enterprise scale. The framework focuses on improving quality and increasing productivity. SAFe promotes a structured approach of collaboration and delivery across large agile teams. Agile, Lean Product development, and system thinking are some of the attributes of SAFe.
Depending on the levels of scale, SAFe has four configurations: Essential SAFe, Large Solution SAFe, Portfolio SAFe, and Full SAFe.
SAFe core values are fundamental framework beliefs that the leadership has to foster and how teams should adapt to the culture and collaborate work towards the goals. The four core values are: Alignment, Built-In Quality, Transparency, and Program Execution.
Alignment: SAFe help in synchronising people and keeping the information flow across all levels of the portfolio in the organisation to stay in alignment.
Built-In Quality: SAFe requires teams at all levels to deliver the work with high quality by adopting to practices and quality measures.
Transparency: SAFe facilitate teams to collaborate and share the information across all levels, inspect and adapt while the work is in progress by enabling transparency in workflow.
Program Execution: SAFe teams aim at delivering quality product and business value to the customer on a regular basis.
The Scaled Agile Framework’s principles help to improve the organisation through lean-agile and system thinking process across the organisation. It requires a shift in the mindset of people from traditional waterfall to lean-agile method.
SAFe Lean Agile Principles:
– Take an economic view;
– Apply systems thinking;
– Assume variability; preserve options;
– Build incrementally, with fast integrated learning cycles;
– Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems;
– Visualize and limit Work in Process (WIP), reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths;
– Apply cadence, synchronize with cross-domain planning;
– Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers;
– Decentralize decision making.
The SAFe or Scaled Agile Framework is an agile framework for building products in an Agile environment at large enterprises. The model works at Team, Program and Portfolio levels. This gives flexibility in managing the challenges in the large organisation on the required scale.
The WSJF SAFe is Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) SAFe process used as a work prioritisation model to order the work such as features, capabilities, epics to produce maximum economic benefit. The formula for calculating WSJF in SAFe is: WSJF = Cost of Delay (CoD) / job size.
The levels of SAFe include Portfolio, Value Stream, Program, and Team. The SAFe implementation type is chosen based on the solutions that need hundreds of SAFe practitioners to build the solution, deploy, and maintain the product. The 4 levels of SAFe configurations for these types include Team, Program, Large solution, and Portfolio.
Agile is the methodology and provides the basis for many frameworks that evolved from it. Agile uses an iterative method for developing a software product that focuses on the continuous delivery of work and earlier to customer to obtain feedback and improvise the product continuously. SAFe, on the other hand, is an agile framework used by an organisation or an enterprise which helps to practice Agile at large scale and adopt lean methodologies in it.
Scrum is the most widely used and popular Agile framework which is based on the agile methodology for practicing Agile principles in small teams. While SAFe is a scaling framework which is also based on Lean-Agile principles and it is helpful in implementing Scrum and Kanban frameworks for large organisations. Both these frameworks approach help to build the software products efficiently using modern techniques and agile principles.
SAFe has four core values, namely Alignment, Built-In Quality, Transparency, and Program Execution that form the value system for SAFe.
Scaled agile is also sometimes referred to as “agile at scale” is a framework that facilitates agile implementation at large organisations or enterprises. The purpose of scaled agile is to give the right amount of governance and guidelines for running complex projects with bigger teams.
Capability is a superset of product features or behaviours that span across multiple ARTs. To execute, the Capabilities are often split into multiple features (sized) so that it can be implemented in a single Program Increment (PI).
The three dimensions of Lean Agile Leadership are the elements that set the foundation of new mindset. They are SAFe Core Values, the Lean-Agile Mindset, and SAFe Principles.
Enablers are sort of solution backlogs that helps in building “user stories” needed for building Architectural Runway for expanding the business scale and running the future projects smoothly. The Infrastructure processes are set up for automating the development cycle. Enablers include exploration, architecture, infrastructure, and compliance.
Enablers in SAFe framework are a popular concept, which acts as solutions for the teams to build their “user-stories”.
Architectural enablers and Infrastructure enablers are the two types of enabler stories. The former is created to build the Architectural Runway for the projects with which smooth development can happen. The latter one is used to create an automation process for the development, testing, and deployment activities.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) allows organisations to apply lean-agile practices at the enterprise level. It provides a set of workflow patterns that guide enterprises for scaling agile. Large organisations that are planning to implement SAFe get executive-level sponsorship. Scaled Agile, Inc. provides the SAFe implementation roadmap that has detailed steps on how to start and adopt scaled agile practices across portfolios. The 12 steps for implementing SAFe include:
– Reaching the tipping point
– Train lean-agile change agents
– Train executives, managers, and leaders
– Create a lean-agile center of excellence
– Identify value streams and ARTs (Agile Release Trains)
– Create the implementation plan
– Prepare for ART launch
– Train teams and launch the ART
– Coach the ART execution
– Launch more ARTs and value streams
– Extend to the portfolio
– Sustain and improve
SAFe is the most popular framework for scaling Scrum at large enterprises. Scrum at Scale was introduced by Dr. Jeff Sutherland and Alex Brown as a Scaling Agile framework. Although Scrum at Scale is good for Agile, when compared to SAFe, it is less suitable for a very complex product. The Scrum at Scale helps to create a network of Scrum teams that are linearly scaled without any new processes. They are more successful where the organisation’s have T-shaped skills, product-centric values, object-oriented technology stack, etc.
SAFe is the most popular framework for scaling Scrum at large enterprises. SAFe has four configurations to accommodate teams of greater size that deal with complex solutions, whereas LeSS has two configurations. LeSS works well with two to eight teams and as the size of the teams increases LeSS Huge configuration is suitable.
LeSS has similar activities as that of Scrum at Scale, namely Scrum events, artifacts, and roles. LeSS also focus on reducing the wastages and promotes continuous improvement. SAFe and LeSS framework emphasis on lean thinking, systems thinking, and agile principles.
SAFe is a popular scaling agile framework. Disciplined Agile (DA) enables organisations to define their own working method according to their need. Since it is evolved from Scrum and Kanban approaches, it is lightweight and follows agile principles. It is suitable in areas where transformation knowledge is seen like DevOps, HR and Finance, Portfolio Management, etc. and also organisations that are flexible in adopting the Agile.
SAFe is a popular scaling agile framework, whereas spotify is a people-driven model. It works in places where the teams are self-organised, cross-functional, co-located teams “squads”. However, SAFe has no concerns about the co-location of teams. Squads form the “tribes” as larger units. The teams collaborate and share their knowledge through “guilds” and “chapters”. Spotify emphasis on organisational culture, learning, taking risks, etc.
Agile Release Train (ART) includes expert people (stakeholders) from different areas who are needed to implement, test, deploy the build the solutions in a value stream, and release it to the customer. An ART typically has 50-125 people, and multiple ARTs can exist. Each ART acts as a virtual organisation that focuses on their solution delivery.