Scaling Agile with SAFe

Anyone who has spent time working with and around Agile team will surely begin to wonder how such concepts and practices. Can be scale up to suit larger organizations after witnessing the tremendous advantages of employing a framework like Scrum to increase productivity at the team level.

Years of experience have taught me that what many large corporations mistakenly refer to as “Agile” is simply a gloss of buzzwords, tools, and procedures that hide the truth that development practises haven’t evolved all that much since the waterfall period.

Overcoming obstacles to Lean-Agile implementation

Although there may be several Scrum teams attempting to self-organize and coordinate work among themselves, the layer of management above is still stuck in a mindset of deadlines, contracts, and strict processes, thus killing the advantages of using Agile teams. The stand-ups, retros, and Scrum of Scrum meetings are all only showpieces until the business leadership properly assimilates Agile and Lean values.

That is not to imply that corporate executives are blind to Agile’s advantages, which include shortened time to market, increased productivity, higher-quality goods, and contented clients. They frequently aren’t only aware that such benefits are feasible; they also have a burning desire to get them. The issue is that risk comes with change. Business leaders are frequently more likely to stick with what they know than take a chance on something that sounds new age or wishy-washy when they present with what sounds like management consultant-engineered hype about “collaboration,” “cross-functional teams,” and “valuing people over processes.”

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), at least partially in my opinion, aims to refute the myth that Agile lacks transparency or rigor by offering a model for Lean-Agile software and system development at large organizations. Dean Leffingwell created SAFe, a knowledge base that provides instructions on how to set up work at each level of the organization and how those levels should interact.

The following interactive chart serves as the most typical representation of the Scaled Agile Framework, which is presently at version 4.0.

SAFe separates the company into three levels:

Portfolio, where high-level strategy is developed and budgets are distributed (it is crucial to emphasize that Agile Release Trains, not individual projects or programs, are funded here);

The team refers to the cross-functional, self-organizing teams of individuals who are really building software, as opposed to Program, which refers to the teams of Agile teams (together known as an Agile Release Train) building and testing solutions.

There isn’t enough space here to begin exploring the different ideas, procedures, and features of SAFe at each of these three levels, but I would still encourage you to browse the website for a while if you have some free time. This is already beginning to sound a little confusing.

I’d like to briefly discuss my main learnings from the recent SAFe Program Consultant course I took. In order to reap the rewards of lean-agile working, management must be prepare to do three things in particular:

  1. Adopt lean-agile principles
  2. Introduce Lean-Agile techniques
  3. Be a change agent.

Adopt lean-agile principles

Management must completely accept the key values for Lean-Agile approaches to be implement successfully. The main idea behind these can be express in a variety of ways: to release value with the shortest feasible lead time.

To explain things a little further, Lean-Agile approaches strive to swiftly provide value (i.e. advantages) for the end-user. This entails neither over-engineering nor over-designing things, but rather acknowledging that customers are willing to wait for further enhancements as long as they get the most valuable elements of the product now.

As we’ve previously covered in-depth, traditional waterfall approaches of software development attempt to provide a fully realized product at the end of a protracted development period. In contrast, Lean-Agile seeks to deploy the most important features as quickly as feasible and enhance the product through subsequent incremental releases.

It is evident that this significantly reduces time to market. Additionally, it enables early user feedback, allowing developers to innovate in response to customers’ changing needs and ultimately delivering greater value.

Since low-quality products and depressed employee morale are not sustainable, the sustainability component of the equation ensures that quality and relationships are not overlooked.

Introduce Lean-Agile techniques

SAFe is useful in this situation. It highlights the following fundamental ideas.

Value – It’s crucial to pinpoint the value the company provides and to structure operations around these value streams. This is about effective leadership and communication; strategic themes, Lean-Agile budgeting, and enterprise architecture all provide direction and empower decision-makers.

Trains for agile releases – Agile team alliances create value. Agile teams are incredibly transparent and highly productive because they share goals and roadmaps, coordinate work in a visible way, and communicate well.

Systems thinking – It’s crucial to consider how each level or function impacts the others and how they interact rather than attempting to separate them. The biggest improvement is frequently found at the macro level rather than the micro-level.

Be a Change Agent

Programming Progress – The daily sprint is the smallest plan-do-check-adjust cycle in the SAFe framework, while the program increment is the greatest. API unifies many teams into a scope and timescale that the company can concentrate on, establishing the purpose but placing few restrictions so that teams. Who are better able to comprehend and respond to the end results—are empower to assume responsibility and address issues.

Leading the Implementation

Since only management has the power to transform an organization, managers must take the initiative to apply Lean-Agile techniques. This can be difficult since adopting new methods of working frequently entails admitting that the previous methods were flawed, and nobody likes to admit that they were wrong.

Fortunately, Lean-Agile practices don’t focus too much on “rightness,” but rather on working together to find the way forward through a strong, value-oriented mission. A dedication to lifelong learning, developing people, motivating them, and releasing their innate motivation to become experts in what they do.


Even though I’ve only just started using SAFe, I can already tell that it’s going to change the way I think about scaling Agile team for bigger organizations. Businesses who are attempting to “Agile” piecemeal, team by team or department by department. Sometimes neglect the premise that management’s adoption of Lean-Agile values is vital to effective implementation. The next level up and the level beyond that are where the true benefit of recognizing value streams are to be found.

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