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LeSS Vs SAFe®️: Which Certification Should You Choose And Why?

19th Feb, 2024
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    LeSS Vs SAFe®️: Which Certification Should You Choose And Why?

    Agile and Scrum development is a trending technology in the IT industry. This approach delivers continuous iterations of a project on a timely basis. 

    The key concepts of Agile and Scrum methodology are as follows:-

    •  Team management
    •  Deliver high-quality products with short iterations
    •  Best practices in the organizations.

    Pure Agile works with the following principles and frameworks. Most of the IT companies adapt to use Agile approaches to meet enterprise’s demand either in a large-scale or complex project. These approaches follow a systematic framework that incorporates best practices in large-scale implementation.

    Know more about safe core values.

    For Scaled development projects, it involves 100 to 1000 team members to inherit the Agile techniques like Scrum and XP that doesn’t make effective management of progress in the project. So, by this result, we led to the development of various frameworks and strategies for the adoption of Scaled Agile frameworks. 

    We have a few Scaled Agile frameworks such as SAFe®️, LeSS, or Nexus, Spotify which have become popular nowadays.

    In this article, we look for a quick comparison between two leading frameworks for scaled Agile approaches for large software development projects.

    Brief Introduction to LeSS

    Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)

    LeSS is a framework to Scale Agile software development for multiple teams. The acronym indicates less artifacts, less process, and fewer roles. It plays on top position among all the Scrum principles such as cross-functional and self-managing teams, investigations. LeSS provides simple systematic rules and instructions in incorporating Scrum in the large projects. This framework scales up with less process compared to single-team Scrum.

    • LeSS includes practices, principles for organizational structure
    • Queuing theory, lean waste and more
    • Theory of constraints

    Bas Vodde and Craig Larman introduced Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), the scaling model.

    Two Agile Scaling frameworks:

    In 2002, the coach and trainer Craig Larman wrote about the Agile and iterative development model. Most of them thought that Agile methodology fits for smaller groups. They both got interested in developing scrum towards large teams. So in 2005 they had to build a team to work with clients to scale up the Scrum processes.

    Now, we have two frameworks which have been adopted by the large-scale projects. The two LeSS frameworks are Smaller LeSS and LeSS Huge.

    Smaller LeSS: It applies to smaller companies with less team members 
    LeSS Huge: It works for larger companies with at least thousands of team members for one product 

    Rules of LeSS

    • It focuses on the overall retrospective for each sprint, to maintain focus on delivery of a product.
    • LeSS frameworks apply effectively to small projects with 2-8 members in a team.

    Structure and Principles of LeSS

    • Good team for a good organizational structure.
    • The team focuses on being cross-functional, self-managing, co-located and long-lived.
    • Scrum Master should focus on working on the adoption of Less.
    • SM is responsible for performance with LeSS adoption.
    • Focus towards development teams, product owner and organizational practices.
    • It has to look over the entire team, not for one project team. 
    • Scrum Master is dedicated to full time working and can serve up to 1-3 teams.
    • LeSS offers Scrum roles of product owner for up to 8 teams. In this framework, PO doesn't have direct contact with the end customer.
    • Team members will contact the end-users regarding their requirements but PO will look over the priorities over a success with 8 members of Scrum team.
    • Scrum Master should be continuously making increments to achieve perfection of the end product.
    • LeSS keeps the Scrum attributes-roles, sprint meetings are same with additional advantage to scale the work.

    Roles of management 

    • In LeSS, managers may be involved or may not be. But if they involve, their roles may most likely change.
    • They may divert their focus to improving the value delivery of a product instead of managing the day-to-day product work.
    • Manager's role is to enable continuous development of product delivery by practices.
    • Encourage the team members with experiments of adding skills.

    Business benefits of LeSS

    • LeSS offers the roles of Scrum, the product owner is one among all who has to understand framework overview and principles
    • One product owner and product backlog are enough for the delivery of a product.
    • LeSS principles, procedures, and adoption in managing the success of the product. 
    • Defines the product and its roles, and the cost of implementation is “less” in LeSS.


    No matter which scaled Agile approach you want to opt for your project, it depends on the size of the company, large-scale organization, and team size. SAFe certification training covers all the principles, guidelines and rules of LeSS. The individuals who have basic knowledge of Scrum can attend the training and have a chance to get certified.

    Coming towards SAFe®️

    In the above, we have discussed how LeSS framework functions in the organization. Moving on we will discuss the SAFe®️ framework in the development projects of an organization.

    Before proceeding with the detailed discussion on SAFe®️, let us see the LeSS vs. SAFe®️ trends in the past 5 years. 

    Less Vs SAFe Trend analysis

    Scaled Agile Framework(SAFe®️)

    The Scaled Agile frameworks (SAFe®️) helps business individuals to address the significant challenges by spreading and delivering enterprise software systems in shortest intervals. The individuals can get free online knowledge to build their software systems with their success patterns. 

    SAFe®️ was first developed by Dean Leffingwell's in his books to enhance large enterprises to set with highly structured and prescriptive methods.
    Its intention was to scale the enterprises with Agile and Lean practices for large-scale Agile teams to meet large organization’s strategic goals.

    This framework provides: 

    • Artifacts
    • Collaboration
    • Follows centralized strategy with a reasonable approach 

    Core values:

    The four basic values of SAFe®️ is to guide the organization addressing more common problems. 
    Those are listed below-

    • Alignment

          It deals with business priorities and IT outcomes, stakeholder commitments, plans

    • Transparency

         It entails plans, focus, strategy, progress, and workflow

    • Build-in quality

         It maintains and practices the continuous support, innovative products

    • Program Execution

        It monitors, executes, and the continuous organization plans to improve the product.

    Principles of SAFe®️:

    SAFe®️ is based on nine permanent principles, underlying Agile and Lean practices. These ideas and commercial concepts inspire the practices and roles of SAFe®️.

    • Economical point

    Delivering the value within time, budget plans, risk, and development cost defined.

    • System thinking

    Understand the workplace of a system, purpose of the system at client environment

    • Assume variation, maintain options

    Traditional design and its practices made in single design, serve with design options and multiple requirements, make future adjustments for long-term projects.

    • Build fast with incremental and integrated learning cycles

    Develop series of short iterations, have customer review and risk mitigation.

    • Objectives and milestones for evaluation of working systems

    Business owners, customers, and developers have their response in investments to get economic benefits and their experience shows an effect to design and meet the challenge.

    • Reduce team size, limit work and visualize, manage length in series

    Resize the team to facilitate fast and reliable flow, amount of work in limit and make the process to less demand, reduce the wait time for new capabilities by having the queue.

    • Applying metrics, synchronize with cross-domain plans

    Cadence provides a measure for the development team, synchronization causes multiple perspectives to be understood, integrated and resolved.

    • The Motivation of knowledge workers with permanent unlock

    Purpose and Providing autonomy, with minimal constraints that lead to employee engagement in higher levels results in better outcomes for customers.

    • Devolution of decision making

    Reduces delays, fast delivery, improves and enables feedback faster and creates innovative solutions related to local knowledge.

    Configurations of SAFe®️:

    We have four configurations in SAFe®️ which provide more configurable and scalable approach to the full range of development environments. These are illustrated below.

    • Essential SAFe®️

    It is the basic building block for all SAFe®️ configurations that trace critical elements needed to meet the major benefits of a framework with simplest starting point of implementation.

    Here program levels and the team forms an organizational structure known as Agile Release Train(ART).

    • Large solution SAFe®️

    The large solution safe®️ deals with the biggest challenges where multiple agile releases are necessary but don’t require portfolio-level considerations. These require additional artifacts, roles, and coordination enterprises.

    • Portfolio SAFe®️ 

    Portfolio SAFe®️ helps align portfolio execution to the enterprise strategy, by the way of Agile development. It helps in providing the business agility through various principles and practices.

    • Full SAFe®️

    Full SAFe®️ supports the enterprises which maintain large integrated solutions, were requires hundreds of people or more, and includes all levels of SAFe®️.

    • Spanning Palette

    The spanning palette is applicable to a specific team, program, large solutions. It helps the organizations to apply the elements which are only important and needed.

    Different types of SAFe®️ :

    We have two major types of SAFe®️ 4.0 implementation- implementation with 3-Level SAFe®️ and 4-Level SAFe®️.

    • 3-Level SAFe®️ is for small projects in business organizations with a team of 100 individuals, that doesn’t require the special collaboration.

    As the name itself indicates, it has three levels of SAFe®️- Program, Team, and Portfolio.

    • 4-Level SAFe®️ requires many 100s to 1000s of individuals to obtain solutions to develop, maintain and deployment.

    The 4-Level SAFe®️ includes an additional level as value stream between the Portfolio Levels and Program for larger organizations.

    Evolution of SAFe®️

    SAFe®️ has evolved with business and continuous process to increase its work demand. The future versions of the framework will increase our commitment towards developing industry, resulting in effective experience with scaled Agile and Lean practices.

    We have a few versions of SAFe®️, those are listed below- 

    1. 1.0 SAFe®️
    2. 2.0 
    3. 3.0 Lean product development systems thinking
    4. 4.0 Full SAFe®️
    5. 4.5 Latest version of SAFe®️ 
    6. 4.5.1 Leading SAFe®️

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    SAFe®️ training makes the individuals to obtain a deep understanding of concepts that boost their career growth. This certification course deals with every principle in the Agile manifesto with its frameworks.

    Benefits in Business:

    • No predefined metrics in this stage, if we adopt a SAFe®️ framework
    • Discussing with team levels about products-retrospective
    • Productivity-estimated time and effort to release a product
    • The time to market will be based on the status of a report with the variation of workflows.

    Differences between LeSS and SAFe®️

    Less & SAFe Differences


    LeSS and SAFe®️ are essentially Scaled Agile frameworks that help enterprises level up. All frameworks look similar but in reality, we choose the best framework that is suitable for the project based on the product. In this article, comparison of LeSS and SAFe®️ describes their roles, principles, team, portfolios, and processes. 

    Choose the best framework for your project and experience ultimate productivity in your team.


    Lindy Quick

    Blog Author

    Lindy Quick, SPCT, is a dynamic Transformation Architect and Senior Business Agility Consultant with a proven track record of success in driving agile transformations. With expertise in multiple agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban, Lindy has led impactful transformations across diverse industries such as manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. Lindy's exceptional communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills have earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor. Currently associated with KnowledgeHut and upGrad, Lindy fosters Lean-Agile principles and mindset through coaching, training, and successful execution of transformations. With a passion for effective value delivery, Lindy is a sought-after expert in the field.

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