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Scrum vs SAFe: Key differences to consider?

15th Sep, 2023
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    Scrum vs SAFe: Key differences to consider?

    Agile techniques, such as Scrum and the Scaled Agile Framework, have grown in popularity in the project management sector in recent years. Scrum and SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) are two distinct frameworks that operate in accordance with Agile and Lean ideas and ideals. Both are quite popular in organizations and public knowledge of them is growing. Both of them appear to be similar on the surface. However, there are minor distinctions between them and this blog on Scrum vs SAFe will help you distinguish between these major frameworks. So let us get started. 

    Scrum vs SAFe: Head-to-head Comparison

    The table below presents a quick overview of the difference between Scrum vs SAFe based on different parameters. 



    It emphasizes on continuous development. 

    SAFe emphasizes on establishing targets and working on them. 


    Mostly done at the business level 

    Mostly done with the broader structure of the business 


    Teams work independently. 

    Teams are interdependent.  

    Team Construction 

    Scrum team is the basic construct.  

    Agile Release Train (ART) is the basic construct.  


    Scrum primarily uses iterative methods.  

    SAFe lets us manage all features of an organization.  


    Scrum has benefits at the project level.  

    SAFe has benefits at the business level.  

    Scrum vs SAFe: Differences Elaborated

    Let’s explore the major points of difference between SAFe and Scrum to aptly recognize their unique features! 

    1. Scrum vs SAFe: Definitions

    What Is Scrum? 

    Scrum is a management methodology that empowers teams to self-organize and collaborate toward a common goal. It specifies a collection of meetings, tools, and roles that are necessary for effective project delivery. Scrum of Scrums SAFe techniques enables teams to self-manage, learn from experience, and adapt to change. Scrum is used by software teams to address complex issues cost-effectively and sustainably. 

    Scrum is used efficiently by all types of teams, including HR, marketing, and design. Scrum, is more common among software development and engineering teams. It enables teams to respond to changing requirements more quickly while keeping expenses and budgets under control. 

    What Is SAFe? 

    SAFe, or Scaled Agile Framework, is an agile framework designed for teams that are program, team, and portfolio. Furthermore, SAFe allows a product team to be flexible. Additionally, it aids in the management of some of the issues that larger organizations have while implementing Agile. SAFe is a large knowledge foundation of established best practices. SAFe is also used by product teams to produce successful software products. 

    Scaled Agile adds a layer of administration and coordination to the development of sophisticated solutions that are too large and complex for a single Scrum team to handle. 

    2. Scrum vs SAFe: Development

    Scrum lays a lot of stress on continuous development. It assists teams in self-organization. Additionally, Scrum aids in the rapid delivery of high-end software. 

    Whereas SAFe takes a more professional approach by contributing to the establishment of targets and the fulfilment of client needs. The Scrum framework is adaptable and useful for implementing a wide range of software projects, whereas the SAFe framework is more strict in its approach and is mostly used at the business level. SAFe certification is a popular way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in using the SAFe framework. It can help you advance your career in the agile software development industry.

    3. Scrum vs SAFe: Collaboration

    Scrum emphasizes iteration more than processes. Moreover, collaborations are made with customers. Scrum uses a working software for which documentation is laid out. Finally, the responses to change are quick, being applied at the team level. 

    On the other hand, SAFe fits with the broader structure of the business, which is characterized by in-built quality, designed for effective program execution. Finally, the frameworks incorporated by SAFe are highly transparent. 

    4. Agile SAFe vs Scrum: Dependency

    Every team following the Scrum framework works independently and is self-organized. On the other hand, teams following the SAFe framework are constantly interdependent on one another and require persistent coordination and collaboration. This setup also requires high working congruency between the authority and the teams. 

    5. SAFe Agile vs Scrum: Team Construction

    Scrum only requires a Scrum team with a product owner, Scrum master, and a group of developers. On the other hand, we need to choose the right SAFe followed by a selection of an Agile Release Train with at least 5-7 Agile teams. The teams usually comprise a number of 50 members. 

    6. Scaled Agile Framework vs Scrum: Methods

    Scrum uses a framework that mainly employs iterative methods, making it very lightweight. In essence, the working project is broken down into small sections to enhance the productivity of complex projects. The Scrum framework requires a regular assessment of the delivery. 

    On the other hand, the SAFe framework is not affected by the large team size. Rather, the team size helps to scale up the Agile and Lean methods to the business level, enhancing the reputation of the business. 

    7. Agile vs Scrum: Advantages

    Scrum focuses more on the wants of the customer. Moreover, as the teams are small, collaboration is effective and coordination within the teams is smooth. This also makes the turnaround time quite fast, and as a result, the development processes in the project are enhanced. 

    On the other hand, SAFe creates and enhances business agility, which helps the business sustain itself in the digital world. As a result, businesses remain highly competitive in the global industry. 

    Moreover, as already mentioned, SAFe is applied at the business level, which enhances the engagement of the employees. As a result, productivity is boosted and defects are reduced significantly. 

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    Similarities Between Scrum and SAFe

    • Both Scrum and SAFe have a Continuous Delivery Pipeline (CDP). Continuous Delivery Pipeline (CDP) describes the activities, procedures, and automation required to lead a new piece of functionality from inception through on-demand delivery of the product to the end user. Regardless of the fact that it is connected with SAFe and is a more advanced concept, Scrum and CDP's sprint cycle have significant parallels. 
    • Scrum and SAFe both use the inspect and adapt strategies. An inspection is performed at the end of each sprint in Scrum. Similarly, several checks are performed throughout the SAFe release train. The inspection results are used to adapt development initiatives. 
    • SAFe and Scrum both encourage continuous cooperation with stakeholders. Analyzing requirements, receiving feedback on deliverables, creating modifications based on customer recommendations, obtaining their stop before deployment, and collaborating with them after deployment are all standard working methods in SAFe and Scrum. 
    • All development activities are carried out at the Team Level in both Scrum and SAFe. A team in Scrum builds a sprint plan collaboratively, participates in daily standup meetings, offers end outputs, and engages in analytical meetings to further enhance their process. 

    Along with development activities, all activities are completed at the team level. 

    • An inspection is carried out at the end of each sprint in Scrum. Similarly, several checks are performed throughout the SAFe release train. The inspection results are used to adapt development initiatives. 
    • The primary goal of Scrum's smaller product development cycles and SAFe's longer solution development cycles will be to deliver the highest quality to consumers in smaller increments. It allows customers to get the product to market faster. 
    • When time is set aside for something, this is known as timeboxing. With Scrum timeboxing typically lasts two weeks. SAFe release trains are timeboxes. They normally last three months. 

    What Should Web Developers Choose When It Comes to Scrum vs SAFe?

    “Scrum or SAFe?” This might be a very confusing choice for many. Both frameworks come with their own set of advantages and shortcomings. However, whenever you have to make a choice between the two for yourself, see what matches your best interests. 

    Here are a few common factors that you must keep in mind before choosing between the two: 

    • The goal that your organization wants to reach 
    • Level of involvement among the management of the company 
    • Reason behind the implementation of SAFe agile vs Scrum 
    • Framework of the organization 
    • Size of the organization in terms of workforce 
    • Nature of project management in the company 


    Scrum and SAFe are both frameworks used in Agile project management, but they differ in their scope and level of detail. Scrum is a simple and flexible framework for small teams that emphasizes collaboration and continuous improvement, while SAFe is a more structured framework for managing large, complex projects that require coordination and alignment across multiple teams and organizational levels. Both Scrum and SAFe come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Companies can choose the better one for themselves depending on their need. Students aspiring to master both should explore the versatile agile management courses offered by KnowledgeHut. These courses will expose students to an array of new and exciting job opportunities in the best companies. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is the difference between Scrum and SAFe?

    Scrum is used in organizing small teams, meanwhile, SAFe is used in organizing the entirety of the organization.

    2Is Scrum used in SAFe?

    Yes, Scrum is used in SAFe. SAFe incorporates Scrum at the enterprise level.

    3Is Scrum the same as Agile?

    Agile is a project management philosophy that employs a specific set of principles or values, meanwhile, Scrum is an Agile methodology used in facilitating a project. 

    4Why is Scrum better than SAFe?

    Scrum enables individuals and teams to generate value progressively and collaboratively. Scrum, as an agile framework, provides just enough discipline for people and teams to integrate into their working practices.


    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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