Even If you have been a part of the project management paradigm for a single second or a lifetime, you’d probably be familiar with the Agile methodology. In the past, we have talked about a lot of things Agile and what the benefits of this amazing SAFe Scaled Agile Framework methodology are.
In this article, we will talk about the Scaled Agile Framework, how it works, why we should use it, what are the different levels of Scaled Agile Framework and how it is different from other Agile Practices. Let’s start at the very beginning.
What is a Scaled Agile Framework?
Scaled Agile Framework or SAFe is a readily available stream of knowledge that helps the practitioners in achieving their goal to incorporate Agile practices at the enterprise level. What this does is that it provides a seamlessly lightweight experience for the entire software development team.
The entirety of the framework can be broken into 3 different segments which we will see in detail later on. These segments are:
Other than that, the SAFe consists of,
A Design that fulfills the needs and requirements of every stakeholder related to the project
Lean and Agile principles
Loads of guidance for work at Value Stream, program, team and the enterprise Portfolio
History of the SAFe Scaled Agile Framework
Introduced in 2011, the SAFe Framework was not always known as such. Dean Leffingwell in his book “Agile Software Requirements”, referred to a framework called the ‘Agile Enterprise Big Picture’ which everyone today knows as SAFe.
Before Dean Leffingwell could debut The Big Picture to the world however, he needed to allow the framework to become more accessible. The framework was lacking in a corporate home, knowledge base that was public, and training solutions.
Dean Leffingwell, Drew Jemilo, and a few others managed to pull this together, and in 2011Scaled Agile Inc was formed and SAFe become known as it is.
SAFe is now in its 4th iteration. The software has been adopted by 70% of the Fortune 100. There is a SAFe Summit that is held every year, and due to the popularity of the software, hundreds of aspiring project managers attend this Summit annually.
Moreover, with 10 different SAFe certifications, more than 600,000 practitioners have been trained and certified, according to the ScaledAgile website.
Well right off the bat, the Scaled Agile Framework is immensely lighter and simpler in weight than any of its competitors in the market nowadays. And yet, it can take on the heaviest and largest value streams in addition to handling the most complex system development being done in the market today.
If you have implemented an Agile Framework, the following are the benefits that your team, project, and the company can enjoy.
Quality will increase by more than 50%
Employee engagement and job satisfaction are immensely increased
When you have attempted to scale the Agile across your organization but struggling in alignment to achieve uniform or consistent strategy across business departments from portfolio to program and team levels
When multiple teams are running their way of Agile implementation but regularly facing obstacles, delays, and failures
When you want to scale Agile across the organization but not sure what new roles may be needed or what existing roles (i.e., management) need to change and how
When an organization needs to improve its product development lead time and want to know how other companies have succeeded in scaling Agile with SAFe
How different is Scaled Agile Frame from its Competitors in the market?
Let’s take a look at all of the different factors that sets it apart from every other competitor in the market.
It’s lightweight, practically proven results and specific to the level
Offers useful extensions to common agile practices
Offers a complete picture of software development
Continues or regular feedback on quality and improvement
Available in a highly approachable and usable form
It’s publicly available and free to use
It constantly/regularly modifies/maintains most commonly used agile practices
Grounds agile practices to an enterprise context
Visibility or transparency is more on all the levels
What are the Foundations on which the SAFe Scaled Agile Framework stands on?
The following 4 entities described below are the foundations on which the SAFe Scaled Agile Framework stands on. They are:
1. Lean-Agile Principles
The following principles and values are the core principles of Agile that must be understood and put into action if you want to achieve your desired results. They are:
Take an economic view
Assume variability; preserve options
Base milestones on an objective evaluation of working systems
Apply cadence, synchronize with cross-domain planning
Visualize and limit WIP, reduce batch sizes and manage queue lengths
Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
2. Lean-Agile Leadership
These Agile leaders are considered to be the ones who learn and simultaneously teach other practitioners throughout their whole professional career. This continuous stream of guidance helps the teams to understand the framework quickly and successfully exhibiting the SAFe principles.
3. Core Values
The SAFe Scaled Agile framework is standing on these four core values. They are as follows:
This alignment starts at various strategic theming schemes in the Portfolio Backlog, moves on to Road-mapping and Vision of Program Backlogs, and finally moves over to Team Backlogs.
It ensures that every incremental delivery reflects the quality standards
Built-in quality is a prerequisite of Lean and its mandatory
Quality is not “added later” is built-in
Transparency is the enabler for trust
Everyone can see into the portfolio backlog/Kanban, program backlogs/Kanban, and Team Backlog/Kanban
Train Programs have visibility into the team’s backlogs, as well other program backlogs
SAFe helps the enterprise to achieve transparency at all levels- Executives, Portfolio Managers, and other stakeholders
Each level has a clear understanding of the PI goals
Teams and programs have visibility into business and architecture Epics. They can see what might be headed their way
SAFe is not useful if teams can’t execute and continuously deliver value
SAFe places great focus on working systems and resultant business outcomes
4. Lean-Agile Mind-Set
The representation of the Lean-Agile Mind-Set is done by the following two things:
The House of Lean
The SAFe House of Lean
The SAFe Scaled Agile Framework is derived from the manufacturing practices and principles based on the Lean-Agile model. The ultimate goal of lean is to deliver the max amount of value to the customer in the shortest time possible.
This value has to retain the highest possible quality factor to be presented to the customer to bring more value to the company.
The Manifesto states that,
“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others to do it. Through this work we have come to the below value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Value Streams are the primary objectives in Portfolio, with which funding for the people and other resources required to build the Solutions
The Value Stream Level is optional in SAFe
It supports cadence and synchronization for multiple ARTs and Suppliers
Building this kind of systems often takes hundreds, even thousands of practitioners, external and internal suppliers
If the Enterprises can be built with a few hundred practitioners, it may not need the constructs of this level.
Despite detailing different variables of SAFe scaled Agile Framework variables, there’s a lot of stuff that we have not covered to date. Make sure you bookmark this post for future reference, as we will be updating it with more juicy content.