Introduction to Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®)

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07th Jun, 2022
Introduction to Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®)

Implementation of software solutions vary based on complexity and magnitude. Not all implementations are simple and straightforward. Software solution implementations of enterprise scale require more rigorous processes and streamlined practices to allow businesses to address challenges posed during such engagements. Businesses are also required to take up such challenging implementations while operating in challenging business environments which forces them to implement solutions in the shortest sustainable lead time. Best practices for scaled agile framework tells you principles which can benefit the organisation

As we all know, the change-driven approaches of Agile project management came into being to address the problems in traditional long running plan-driven software projects. But, Agile projects were traditionally more suitable for smaller projects that required six to eight team members. So, the need for a process to deliver large scale projects using Agile methodologies increased over the last few years. The scaled agile framework provided the much needed guidance for the same.

Get to know more about  safe core values.

Reason for SAFe®

The primary motivation for SAFe® was to allow for collaboration, synchronization and coordinated delivery of solutions developed by multiple Agile teams. SAFe® is a framework that can be scaled up or down as per the requirements of the organization. Thus, SAFe® supports small-scale solution implementations which require 50 to 125 team members as well as complex, cross departmental and even cross-organizational solution implementations that require thousands and ten thousands of team members.

How does SAFe® work?

It is fascinating to understand how SAFe® facilitates scaling of this magnitude? SAFe® framework describes roles, responsibilities, artifacts and activities that are required to develop and deploy software solutions Lean-Agile software implementation principles. SAFe® principles are developed using 3 main bodies of knowledge. They are as depicted in the diagram below.

 Agile development embraces change where cross-functional, self-organizing and self-healing teams develop software in an iterative and incremental manner using small bursts called sprints. 

“Systems thinking” motivate team members to consider each and every element that are within the context as a whole. For example the business context for which a solution is being developed may involve factors internal to a business such as data, systems, technology, resources (financial and non-financial) as well as factors which are external such as competitors, government and regulatory bodies, suppliers and distributors, financial institutions etc. which may all impose constraints on the solution.

One of the key principles in Agile methodologies involves lean principles which is to minimize waste or non-value adding activities and to increase the probability and impact of value-adding activities. 

Common questions, which SAFe® addresses
SAFe® was developed to address the following industry wide questions.

  • How can organizations scale agile practices starting from small agile project teams, to larger programs, to business unit or enterprise wide programs or portfolios and even to cross-organizational mega projects?
  • How can teams of scale be organized around continuous delivery of value?
  • How can teams of such magnitude collaborate effectively avoiding delays and bureaucracy evident in such large scale projects if run as traditional projects?
  • How can dependencies between multiple teams be managed?
  • How can an environment that fosters collaboration, continuous improvement and innovation be created and sustained?
  • How can culture be molded to motivate team members to make mistakes and learn from them?
  • How can the team measure success of new working methods followed and how can they make it more efficient?

SAFe® provides a well-defined set of values, principles and practices which can be adopted enterprise-wide to better address these questions above.

In my upcoming articles I will discuss about different configurations of SAFe® with details on how different roles, systems, practices and values contributes towards continuously delivering value through the agile release train.


Rumesh Wijetunge

Chief Innovation Officer - Zaizi Limited, Chief Operating Officer - LearntIn (Pvt) Ltd., Director /

Rumesh is an IT business leader with over 12 years of industry experience as a business analyst and project manager. He is currently the CIO of Zaizi Limited, a UK based data management company heading the operations in Sri Lanka, the COO of LearntIn, a global training institute based in Sri Lanka and is also a lecturer / trainer at multiple private universities on management, IT, business analysis and project management subjects. He is the current president of the IIBA Sri Lanka chapter and is one of the most qualified and sought after trainers in Sri Lanka. Refer his LinkedIn profile for more details and to see more articles he has written on linkedin

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