The Scaled Agile Framework is a Framework for Agile and Lean methods pioneered and designed by Dean Leffingwell. SAFe® is basically a scaled-up, enterprise level implementation of the many team-based agile methods, such as Scrum and XP. Team-level agile methods usually do not know how to handle issues beyond the immediate product development team, whereas SAFe® tries to make the whole organisation Lean and Agile in a predetermined and clear way.
So in short, Scaled Agile Framework is a “publicly available framework for applying lean/agile practices at Enterprise scale.”
There are enormous benefits to be gained from choosing SAFe® as the Framework for your company.
It is free of cost, and available in a usable form
Even though SAFe® materials are protected by copyright, preventing others from modifying or redistributing them, they are all available completely free of cost. The materials are in an extremely understandable manner, thus making its implementation a piece of cake for even the most novice user.
SAFe® is lightweight
Unlike other comparable large-scale frameworks, SAFe® does not require much effort to master. The entire Framework is available on its website, with a clear diagram that shows all of the roles, activities and important deliverables. It also acts as a navigational aid to the rest of the Framework website. Making implementation even easier, the website is only one level deep- each graphic on the first page takes you to another page consisting of a more comprehensive explanation, along with other reference links.
Considering all this, it would be an understatement to say that SAFe® is easy to implement.
Specificity of SAFe®
SAFe® does not just offer you guidelines for process development, rather offers the processes themselves. In this aspect, it is different from the other more generalized industry frameworks because of its sheer practicality. The Framework also offers specific terms, concepts and practices to be used by software developers, to make the company itself more Lean and Agile. This hands-on aspect helps people who are more interested in developing the software itself, than in throwing around words about the methodologies in software development.
SAFe® has also succeeded in codifying and simplifying the more common agile practices and their definitions in use today. On the aforementioned Big Picture, many keywords such as “scrum master” and “agile teams” are given clear definitions, thus increasing the user’s comprehension.
An extension of agile practices
Most companies would have used agile and lean practices at their practitioner and team levels, and the common ones in use today are Scrum and XP. SAFe® simply extends this agile model up to the program and enterprise levels by parsing the elements of these practices, such as the hierarchy of features, epics and stories. They have also added some novel, useful concepts of their own, such as the “Agile Release Train”.
SAFe® is enterprise-centric in its software development methods, whereas the traditional agile practices have always been too centred on the development team. The Framework does its estimates at the program and portfolio levels, before stepping down to the more detailed levels required for stories and story points. This is extremely important for doing agile at the scale required for large companies.
A complete picture of Software Development
SAFe® includes all the aspects of software development, right from the start to the finished product. A variety of roles, such as System Architect, UX experts, Product Managers and even Product Owners are included in the Framework model, increasing its reliability. Features of SAFe® includes all the elements that a modern enterprise requires to develop and deliver software.
Moreover, the Framework is maintained and polished religiously by its creators, and the updates are available on the website completely free of charge. The evolution of the Framework seems to be based on actual experience and feedback received from the users, rather than on theoretical concepts.
The core belief of the makers is simple- Better systems and software make the world a better place. Looking at the success stories, it is evident that many enterprises-large and small-are getting outstanding business benefits from the application of SAFe®, in terms of productivity, quality and the time to market.
A Scaled Agile Framework might just be what you need to take your valuable enterprise to the next level.