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A Complete Guide to SAFe Feature for Scaling Agile

17th May, 2024
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    A Complete Guide to SAFe Feature for Scaling Agile

    The Scaled Agile Framework has gained considerable popularity in current years for its ability to help organizations scale their Agile practices across the enterprise. SAFe®̥ features and SAFe®̥ capabilities support the implementation of Agile at scale, including Agile Release Trains, PI (Program Increment) Planning, Portfolio Management, and Lean-Agile Leadership.

    These Scaled Agile features enable organizations to align their teams and processes around a common vision, foster collaboration and communication and deliver high-quality products and services to customers faster. Additionally, SAFe® Epics and Features provide a structured approach to product management, enabling organizations to prioritize work based on business value and customer needs. The training courses equip professionals with the skills to implement SAFe®̥ practices in their organizations, drive innovation, and achieve business agility. Browse for Agile training courses crucial for professionals looking to adopt Agile methodologies and practices in their organizations.

    What are Features in SAFe®?

    SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) is a methodology for implementing agile practices at scale in larger organizations. In SAFe®, features refer to a unit of functionality that provides business value to the customer. Features are typically defined and prioritized based on their importance to the business and customer needs.

    In SAFe®, features are grouped together into a feature backlog, which is a prioritized list of features that need to be implemented. The feature backlog is used to plan and prioritize work in SAFe® and is continually refined based on feedback and changing business needs.

    Features are typically broken down into smaller pieces of work called user stories, which are more detailed descriptions of the functionality that is needed to implement the feature. User stories are used to plan and estimate the work required to implement the feature and are typically tracked in a separate backlog called the user story backlog.

    Features are a central concept in SAFe®, and they are used to drive the development process and ensure that the team is delivering business value to the customer. By breaking down work into features and user stories, teams can work more efficiently and effectively, and deliver high-quality software that meets the needs of the business and its customers. Scaled agile framework courses can teach you how to define, prioritize, and deliver features in SAFe®

    Types of SAFe® Features

    SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) features are designed to help organizations implement and scale Agile practices in a structured and efficient manner. These features include Agile Release Trains, Program Increments, Lean Portfolio Management, Continuous Integration/Deployment, DevOps, and Agile Teams, which work together to deliver value to customers and improve business outcomes.

    SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) methodology includes three types of features: business features, architectural features, and enabler features.

    1. Business features provide high-level descriptions of business functionality that provide value to the customer. They represent the customer's needs and are used to prioritize the work of development teams. Business features are a critical input to the portfolio and program level planning, helping organizations to focus on delivering the highest value to the customer.
    2. Architectural features are technical descriptions of the system or solution functionality that support business features. They provide guidance for the design and implementation of the system or solution, ensuring that it is scalable, maintainable, and secure. Architectural features are a critical input to the solution level planning, helping organizations to develop a well-architected solution that meets the business requirements.
    3. Enabler features are the smallest pieces of work required to implement an architectural or business feature. They are often technical in nature and help to remove technical impediments that may slow down the development process. Enabler features are a critical input to the program and team level planning, helping development teams to identify the technical dependencies of their work and to plan accordingly.

    Understanding these three types of features is essential to implementing SAFe® successfully and delivering value to the customer. By leveraging these features, organizations can manage and deliver value in a more efficient and effective manner.

    • Discovering and Describing Features: This type of feature is focused on identifying and understanding customer needs and describing them in a clear and concise manner. Examples of discovering and describing features include User Stories, Epics, and Business Requirements.
    • Creating and Managing Features: This type of feature helps organizations create and manage a backlog of features that need to be developed to deliver value to customers. Examples of creating and managing features include Backlog Management, Iteration Planning, and Program Backlogs.
    • Prioritizing Features: This type of feature helps organizations prioritize the backlog of features based on customer needs, business value, and other factors. Examples of prioritizing features include WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First), Cost of Delay, and Value Stream Mapping.
    • Estimating Features: This type of feature helps organizations estimate the time and effort required to develop each feature, which helps with planning and resource allocation. Examples of estimating features include Story Points, Ideal Days, and T-Shirt Sizing.
    • Accepting Features: This type of feature helps organizations ensure that the features developed meet the customer's needs and business requirements. Examples of accepting features include Acceptance Criteria, Definition of Done, and Acceptance Testing.

    Benefits of SAFe® Features

    SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) offers benefits such as scalability, collaboration, and transparency, enabling organizations to achieve agility at scale, work more effectively, and make informed decisions.

    Below are some benefits of SAFe® features:

    1. Improved collaboration and communication: SAFe® features encourage collaboration and communication between teams, allowing for a more cohesive and streamlined development process.
    2. Better alignment with customer needs: By utilizing SAFe® features to discover and describe customer needs, organizations can ensure that their solutions are aligned with customer needs and business goals, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and improved ROI.
    3. Faster time-to-market: SAFe® features allow for the efficient management of development efforts, breaking down larger features into smaller, more manageable pieces that can be delivered faster.
    4. Improved quality: SAFe® features provide tools and processes for acceptance testing and quality assurance, ensuring that features meet the required standards and are of high quality.
    5. Increased flexibility: SAFe® features provide a flexible framework that can be customized to suit the unique needs of each organization, enabling organizations to respond to changing market conditions and customer needs more quickly.

    Overall, leveraging SAFe® features can result in a more efficient and effective Agile development process, resulting in improved customer satisfaction, increased revenue, and a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    How to Use Features of SAFe®?

    SAFe® provides a set of practices, roles, and tools to enable organizations to scale agile methodologies and deliver value to customers faster.
    Here are some steps to use the features of SAFe®:

    1. Understand the SAFe® methodology: Before you start using the features of SAFe®, it's essential to have a good understanding of the methodology. You can read the SAFe® website, attend leading SAFe® courses or hire a SAFe® coach to help you with this.
    2. Identify the SAFe® features that align with your goals: SAFe® offers a wide range of features, including Agile Release Trains (ARTs), Lean Portfolio Management, Agile Product Delivery, Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), DevOps, and more. Identify the features that align with your goals and needs.
    3. Create an implementation plan: Once you've identified the SAFe® features you want to use, create an implementation plan. This plan should outline the steps you'll take to introduce the features into your organization, the timeline for implementation, and any resources you'll need.
    4. Train your team: SAFe® is a team-based approach, so it's crucial to train your team on the methodology and the features you're implementing. Provide SAFe® Scrum Master training course to your team and ensure everyone understands the SAFe® principles, practices, and tools.
    5. Implement SAFe® features gradually: SAFe® features are complex, and it's important to implement them gradually to avoid overwhelming your team. Start with a few features, test them, and make adjustments as necessary before adding more features.
    6. Monitor and evaluate progress: Regularly monitor and evaluate your SAFe® implementation to ensure it's achieving the desired results. Use metrics such as cycle time, lead time, and customer satisfaction to measure progress.
    7. Continuously improve: SAFe® is an iterative process, and continuous improvement is key to its success. Regularly evaluate and adjust your SAFe® implementation to ensure you're delivering value to your customers and achieving your business goals.

    In summary, to use SAFe® features, you need to understand the methodology, identify the features that align with your goals, create an implementation plan, train your team, implement the features gradually, monitor progress, and continuously improve your implementation.

    Examine the top trending  Agile Category Courses

    CSM CertificationCSPO CertificationLeading SAFe Certification
    PSM CertificationSAFe Scrum Master CertificationSAFe SPC Certification
    SAFe RTE CertificationSAFe POPM CertificationICP-ACC Certification

    What are Capabilities in SAFe®?

    In SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework), capabilities refer to a higher-level portfolio management construct that represents the ability of the organization to deliver value to its customers. Capabilities are a set of related features that work together to achieve a specific business outcome or goal.

    Capabilities are used to plan and prioritize work at the portfolio level, and they are typically tied to specific business initiatives or objectives. They are also used to align the work of multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and teams, ensuring that they are all working towards the same overall goal.

    In SAFe®, capabilities are typically broken down into smaller pieces of work called epics, which are larger than user stories but smaller than capabilities. Epics are used to describe the scope of the work required to achieve a capability, and they are used to plan and prioritize work at the program level.

    By breaking down work into capabilities, epics, and user stories, SAFe® provides a hierarchical structure for planning and delivering value to the customer. This structure allows organizations to align their work with their strategic goals and ensures that teams are working towards a common purpose, resulting in increased efficiency and better business outcomes.

    Splitting Features and Capabilities

    This type of feature helps organizations break down larger features and capabilities into smaller, more manageable pieces that can be developed and delivered more efficiently. Examples of splitting features and capabilities include Spikes, MVPs (Minimum Viable Products), and Story Mapping.

    A Framework for Success

    In conclusion, SAFe® provides a robust framework for organizations looking to scale agile practices and manage large-scale software development projects. Its features and capabilities are designed to align an organization's strategy with its development efforts, promote collaboration and communication among teams, and deliver value to customers faster. By implementing SAFe® gradually, training teams, and monitoring progress regularly, organizations can successfully adopt SAFe® and enjoy its benefits of increased efficiency, faster time-to-market, and improved customer satisfaction. SAFe® is a powerful tool for organizations looking to stay competitive in today's fast-paced software development landscape.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1What are the different levels of SAFe®?

    SAFe®, or the Scaled Agile Framework, has four levels, each providing increasing degrees of organization and coordination:

    1. Essential SAFe®: provides the foundation for scaling agile across an organization.
    2. Large Solution SAFe®: coordinates multiple agile teams working on a common solution.
    3. Portfolio SAFe®: aligns an organization's portfolio of initiatives and programs with its overall business strategy.
    4. Full SAFe®: provides a comprehensive approach to scaling agile across an organization, including coordinating multiple value streams and managing large and complex solutions.
    2How big is a feature in SAFe®?

    In SAFe®, a feature is a small, self-contained functionality that delivers value to the customer. A feature typically takes a few weeks to a few months to implement and is developed by a cross-functional agile team. The exact size of a feature can vary depending on the context and complexity of the solution being developed. However, in general, a feature is larger than a user story and smaller than an epic. It is typically sized to be deliverable within a single Program Increment (PI) and is aligned with the organization's overall business and customer needs.

    3What is a feature team in SAFe®?

    In SAFe®, a feature team is a cross-functional and self-organizing agile team that is responsible for delivering a feature or set of features that provide value to the customer.

    The feature team typically includes all the skills and expertise needed to design, develop, test, and deploy the feature, and is composed of full-time members who work together in a collaborative and iterative manner.

    Feature teams are an important aspect of SAFe®, as they enable organizations to deliver high-quality and valuable features to customers on a regular basis, and are a key component of the Agile Release Train (ART) which is a primary vehicle for delivering value in SAFe®.

    4What is an example of a feature in SAFe®?

    A feature in SAFe® is a high-level requirement that describes a valuable functionality or capability that the software system should provide to its users. An example of a feature in SAFe® could be "Streamlined checkout process for improved user experience" for an e-commerce website. This feature would involve multiple user stories or backlog items, such as saving shipping and payment information, providing real-time shipping cost estimates, and implementing a clear interface for entering payment information. The development team would follow SAFe®'s steps, including breaking down the feature, prioritizing components, estimating time, and iterating on the design and implementation until it meets quality standards.

    5What are epics in SAFe®?

    Epics in SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) are large initiatives or projects that cannot be completed within a single iteration and require multiple teams to work collaboratively to achieve the desired outcome. They are similar to features, but at a higher level of abstraction. Epics are used to provide a strategic roadmap for the development team and ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal. They are broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces called features, which can then be prioritized and scheduled for delivery over multiple iterations. Epics are typically defined by the product owner and are used to align the development team with the overall business objectives.


    Rajesh Bhagia

    Blog Author

    Rajesh Bhagia is experienced campaigner in Lamp technologies and has 10 years of experience in Project Management. He has worked in Multinational companies and has handled small to very complex projects single-handedly. He started his career as Junior Programmer and has evolved in different positions including Project Manager of Projects in E-commerce Portals. Currently, he is handling one of the largest project in E-commerce Domain in MNC company which deals in nearly 9.5 million SKU's.

    In his role as Project Manager at MNC company, Rajesh fosters an environment of teamwork and ensures that strategy is clearly defined while overseeing performance and maintaining morale. His strong communication and client service skills enhance his process-driven management philosophy.

    Rajesh is a certified Zend Professional and has developed a flair for implementing PMP Knowledge Areas in daily work schedules. He has well understood the importance of these process and considers that using the knowledge Areas efficiently and correctly can turn projects to success. He also writes articles/blogs on Technology and Management

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