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SAFe®️ 4.6 - The Latest Entrant In SAFe®️ Series With 5 Core Competencies

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Last updated on
11th Mar, 2021
10th Oct, 2018
SAFe®️ 4.6 - The Latest Entrant In SAFe®️ Series With 5 Core Competencies

Scaled Agile Inc. (SAI) recently announced the latest version of SAFe®️, SAFe®️ 4.6 with the help of the whole Scaled Agile team and SAFe®️ Contributors. The SAFe®️ 4.6 version has underlined the introduction of ‘Five Core Competencies’ of the Lean Enterprise. The purpose behind incorporating those competencies is mainly to make the SAFe®️ organizations build a truly Lean Enterprise in a Lean fashion.  

According to the Gartner report, SAFe®️ 4.5 is delineated as the world’s most widely used Agile framework at the enterprise level.

This new way of working with SAFe®️ will open new avenues after the introduction of these competencies. At the same time, these competencies will become the primary lens for understanding and executing SAFe®️ in the organizations. Also, this new way of SAFe®️ working can make a big difference to the organizations that are struggling with their transformations.

Here are the names of the five competencies introduced newly to build a better Lean organization in a Lean way. Lean-Agile Leadership

  1.  Team and Technical Agility
  2.   DevOps and Release on demand
  3.   Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering
  4.   Lean Portfolio Management

Benefits of SAFe®️ 4.6 competencies

Having these five competencies allows organizations to-

  • Navigate digital disruptions
  • Respond to the volatile market conditions
  • Meeting the varying customer requirements and latest technologies

Let’s explore each competency in details below.

SAFE for learn Enterprises

1) Lean-Agile Leadership:

The Lean-Agile Leadership competency focuses on describing how the Lean-Agile leaders steer organizational change by encouraging the individuals and teams to reach their highest potential. The Lean-Agile leaders do this by learning, exhibiting, and coaching the Lean-Agile mindset, core values, principles, practices & features of SAFe®️.

Changes made in Lean-Agile Leadership in SAFe®️ 4.6 version

  • The SAFe®️ principles have been updated with a redraft of Principle #3 — Assume variability and preserve options
  • A new advanced topic article, Evolving Role of Managers describes the changes and ongoing responsibilities of line management in the new way of working.

2) Team and Technical Agility

The Team and Technical Agility competency describe the critical skills and Lean-Agile principles and practices that are required to produce the high-performing teams. These high-performing teams focus on creating high-quality, well-designed technical solutions in accordance with the current and future business needs.

  • Team agility – enables high-performing organized Agile teams to operate with the fundamental and effective Agile principles and practices.
  • Technical agility – provides Lean-Agile technical practices to generate high-quality, well-formulated technical solutions that contribute to the current and future business needs.

Changes made in Team and Technical Agility in SAFe®️ 4.6 version

  • The new built-in quality practices that ensure that each Solution element meets the appropriate quality standards at every increment. 
  • These new built-in quality practices define 5 dimensions that permit quality- flow, architecture and design quality, code quality, system quality, and release quality.
  • The roles in the Agile teams- Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development team are updated to reflect the new guidelines and thinking from the Team and Technical Agility competency and their responsibilities in Behavior-Driven development (BDD).
    • Behavior-Driven Development is a test-first, Agile software development approach that has evolved from the Test-Driven Development. BDD provides a built-in quality by defining system behavior.
  • Test-Driven Development (TDD) is a practice for developing and executing the tests before implementing a code or system’s component.

3) DevOps and Release on demand

The DevOps and Release on Demand competency confer how the DevOps principles and practices allow the organizations to release value (in full or in part), at any time to meet the customers’ needs. This new competency enhances the in-depth level of guidelines on implementing a full continuous delivery pipeline.

Changes made in DevOps and Release on demand in SAFe®️ 4.6 version

The advanced Continuous Delivery Pipeline includes mapping the current Delivery Pipeline and improving the flow with the DevOps and Release on-demand health radar.

  • The DevOps health radar is a tool to assess the progress and improve a flow of the program value with the help of Continuous Delivery Pipeline. This tool consists of 16 sub-dimensions (as shown in the figure below) programs that are used to assess the program’s maturity. It helps to identify our health-related dimensions (e.g. sitting, crawling, walking, running, and identifying the places where we can improve).

Devops And Release on Demand
4) Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering

The Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering competency show how organizations can develop large and complex solutions and cyber-physical systems using a Lean, Agile, and flow-based, value delivery-model. This model makes the best of the activities necessary to specify, design, construct, test, deploy, operate, evolve and ultimately decommission solutions.

Changes made in Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering in SAFe®️ 4.6 version

  • In this competency, they have changed the eight practices for developing large and complex solutions. Following image shows the practices included in the Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering.
    Changes made in Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering in SAFe®️ 4.6 version
  • They made changes in the Economic Framework with the following four primary elements:
    • Operating within Lean budgets and guardrails
    • Understanding solution economic trade-offs
    • Leveraging Suppliers
    • Sequencing jobs for the maximum benefit (using WSJF)

  • The advanced Roadmap section introduces the multiple planning horizons and the Solution Roadmap that provides a longer-term- multiyear view, showing the key milestones and deliverable s required to reach the solution Vision over time. The roadmap also contains new guidance on understanding and applying market rhythms and events.

5) Lean Portfolio Management

The Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) competency describes how an organization can implement Lean approaches to strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance for a SAFe®️ portfolio.

Changes made in Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) in SAFe®️ 4.6 version

  • In SAFe®️ 4.6, the changes are made in the organizational strategy formulation, the definition of the portfolio, and strategic themes.
  • New Portfolio Canvas describes how a portfolio of solutions creates, delivers and captures value for an enterprise. The portfolio canvas defines and aligns the value streams of the portfolio and the solutions to achieve the organizational goals and provides a process on meeting the vision of a future state.
  • The updated Lean Budget Guardrails ensures the right investments within the portfolio’s budget.
  • Also, the changes are made in the Lean Budgets that provides a guidance on moving from the traditional budgets to Lean budgets, guiding investments by the horizon and applying participatory budgeting.
  • The updated Value Streams includes a section for defining the value streams and a revised Development Value Stream Canvas that aligns better with the new Portfolio Canvas.

Top-Level Government in SAFe®️ 4.6

Another updated thing in SAFe®️ 4.6 is the SAFe®️ for Government. The top-level Government in SAFe®️ 4.6 describes a set of success patterns that support the public sector organizations in implementing the Lean-Agile practices. The SAFe®️ for Government also serves as a landing page for applying SAFe®️ in the national, regional or local government context. This provides the specific guidelines to address the following things-

  • Creating a basis of Lean-Agile values, principles, and practices
  • Building the high-performing teams of Government teams and contractors
  • Aligning technology investments with agency strategy
  • Transitioning from projects to a Lean flow of epics
  • Adopting Lean budgeting aligned to the value streams
  • Applying Lean estimating and forecasting in cadence
  • Modifying acquisition practices to enable Lean-Agile development and operations
  • Building in quality and compliance
  • Adapting governance practices to support agility and lean flow of value

The passion of always improving the art of software development based on the Lean-Agile best practices makes Dean Leffingwell the world’s foremost authority. The release of the SAFe®️ 4.6 version is an update to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®️) which addresses the challenge of transitioning from the traditional model to the Lean-Agile Mindset. Moreover, the version provides the guidelines on XP, TDD, and BDD, and building a better Lean enterprise in the Lean way!

You heard it right! Knowing the Lean fruits of SAFe®️ 4.6 to the organizations, KnowledgeHut is launching the course in the middle of November. 

Stay tuned to know more. Course arriving soon!



KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.