When Agile was introduced, the thought of scaling it was not in mind. Its aim was that Developers and engineers should be empowered to handle the implementation issues by themselves. They should feel free to use their judgment to take the learnings from the previous iteration to the next. And it worked well when a single team or teams worked individually on a project. However, this kind of freedom doesn’t work successfully when multiple teams are working on a single product or project with each one performing its task and when the individual project of each team must operate with the other team, and when they have a common architecture and interface. So, to take full benefit of Agile at scale while simultaneously keeping the need for coordination and collaboration among the teams requires a bigger structure, organization, and supervision.

This is where the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) comes into the picture. Today’s business world cares only about the results and moves very fast. Things change rapidly, and to keep pace with the changing business scenarios, companies have to adopt the latest methodologies. And that is precisely the reason companies are adopting SAFe around the globe, even though it is more challenging to implement. But once applied, it can significantly help the company by boosting its efficiency, productivity, and velocity. You might be practicing Agile but may need to be made aware of SAFe or may have heard of it but not enough to know that Agile can be scaled. You would certainly be curious to know what Scaled Agile is. Let us know more about SAFe.

What is a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?

The Scaled Agile Framework is an Agile framework developed to help organizations scale Agile to the enterprise level and reap the benefits of Agile across the organization. Its set of patterns for the organization and workflow enables it to implement Agile practices at the enterprise level. SAFe provides similar benefits to the companies that Scrum provides to the Agile teams. SAFe helps in aligning the development with the company objectives. It is a complete body of knowledge that guides planning and managing the work, values that should be upheld, and roles and responsibilities.

SAFe has put together the knowledge provided by Lean-Agile and DevOps and created a platform to fulfill the development needs of the enterprises. Many teams need alignment and collaboration when working together on a project. SAFe aims to facilitate these to ensure faster delivery. There are three different levels in which SAFe operates. These are the Portfolio level, Program level, and Team level. Three main bodies of knowledge have shaped SAFe: Agile development, Lean product development, and System thinking. It provides the product team with more flexibility and helps large enterprises meet the challenges they face when practicing Agile.

It doesn’t matter whether you are new to SAFe or you have heard about it or you are already implementing SAFe in your organization; there are specific facts about SAFe that you must know. Eight essential facts about SAFe will help bring more clarity to you about the Scaled Agile Framework. Let us look at them.

Eight Scaled Agile Framework facts

1. SAFe has been founded based on decades of lessons learned

The concepts on which SAFe works are old and have been in use for a long time. One of the main aspects of this framework is flow. The first fact about SAFe is that in 1930, two people in the Toyota company, Talichi Ohno and Shingeo Shingo as the form of Toyota Production System that was subsequently transformed into Lean manufacturing.

2. Industries of all sizes are using SAFe for digital transformation

Irrespective of their sizes, many major industries use SAFe to help them remain competitive in this digital age. Large companies like Ericsson, Jihn Deere, Cisco, and Barclays have used SAFe and found it helpful in understanding the significance of being digital in the economic scenario of today’s world. Today, every company is digital or striving to be one. This implies that the companies would serve the customers better by leveraging technology. The processes are now customer-centric. Adopting technology is not an option anymore. It has become a necessity. And all this to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing market.

3. SAFe underscores the chances for improvement and supports them

When an organization starts using SAFe, many problems or flaws emerge explicitly. There may be issues with processes or the method of communication. There could be duplication of work or processes might be unduly expanded. Teams need to be correctly understanding the exact needs of the customer. All this, which had just been noticed, will come to the fore, and the organization will have to manage these issues. SAFe does not provide any quick-fix solutions for these problems but can help the organization find the right solution as it goes along using SAFe. The organization’s leaders can build a Lean-Agile path for their organization while integrating Lean-Agile principles and values with the cultural mindset of the organization. This will provide a proper direction with a sustainable solution unique to the organization’s circumstances and one that can work for a long time.

4. SAFe helps organizations to manage their whole business successfully

This is a fact that the industries running successfully on SAFe would validate. No doubt, the initial thought behind developing the Scaled Agile Framework was to help large enterprises in managing large and complex projects and solutions. Still, it is not that SAFe can be helpful to only in these situations. It has proven its usefulness beyond that. Many smaller organizations are successfully running their entire business using Portfolio SAFe. It has shown that irrespective of your area of business, whether it is technology or not, the concepts of Lean startup, business agility, and organizing around value can be used successfully irrespective of the type of business.

5. Multiple products can be easily managed using SAFe

SAFe helps organizations tackle multiple products at the same time. Different teams in the SAFe organizations are dependent on each other; in the same manner, different products are also interdependent. SAFe makes it easier for the enterprise to handle these interdependencies. SAFe provides solutions for delivering high-quality products. However, one care that needs to be taken here is that more products can positively influence the organization’s efficiency. So, a re-evaluation of the product portfolio is needed.

6. SAFe is more focused on the value you deliver than what you do

Remember, SAFe was developed as an alternative to the traditional way of product management. With time, many people who have used SAFe have tried to depend on the processes within SAFe for handling their problems. They found the core techniques of SAFe to be more useful than any specific methodology. However, they soon realized that SAFe is less concerned about what they do or why they do it than it is about how they do it. Transforming one’s thinking, principles, and values on his own is a challenging task. But SAFe provides you with a plan to make a beginning, and then there is a lot of professional help available to guide you.

7. Enterprises are utilizing the tools provided by SAFe to resolve all types of issues

The Scaled Agile Framework comes with a large toolkit. It comprises several proven concepts and models which will come in handy for organizations to solve various problems. It works on more than just improving attributes like quality, time-to-market, and employee engagement but many more problems. SAFe is a framework that applies practices and provides tools for all types of organizations, irrespective of their size, to design the best solutions for their customers to their complete satisfaction. The SAFe library is full of freely available toolkits, workshops, and videos for the SAFe members’ community that is expanded regularly. Various trainers and professionals deploy these resources to help organizations design Lean-Agile solutions.

8. SAFe keeps growing continuously

As rapid changes keep taking place in the business world, the Scaled Agile Framework is continuously evolving. The Scaled Agile team continues to hone it to keep it aligned with the changing business environment. Marketing strategies are refined and a more global viewpoint is created. And practicing the principle of relentless improvement, continuous guidance is provided on people’s agility. The aim is to understand global markets and their effect on businesses and device strategies accordingly.

Final Thoughts:

You must know these eight facts about SAFe when you use SAFe. This knowledge will help you in using SAFe more effectively and get more benefits out of it. You will avoid reworks and there will be better coordination and collaboration among the teams that will save precious time and avoid delays. The ultimate result will be delivering value at the right time with the right quality and increased customer satisfaction.

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