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Lean Software and Systems Engineering — SAFe 4.0

A rundown of the new release of the free Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) knowledge base.

· Agile Zone

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With the release of Scaled Agile Framework 4.0 a new 4th level is added to the freely available knowledge base. It is for a higher level of operation for larger organizations, providing a greater value stream for those businesses that have both software and systems engineering teams, developing both hardware and firmware (embedded software). Scaled Agile, the organization behind SAFe 4.0 have declared that SAFe v3 remains in place and fully supported, but more than this they have made it clear that Level 3 is still a valid option, retaining it much the same as it was, for inclusion in SAFe 4.0. It is now clear that multiple instances of SAFe can be used side by side within the same organization, this makes it easy to upgrade when necessary but also providing a level of backwards compatibility. It is recognition that one size of SAFe does not fit all businesses requirements.

What Are the Significant Changes of SAFe 4.0?

There are some significant changes in v4. In version 3 of SAFe, Kanban was included in the Portfolio level, but with version 4, Kanban is included all levels, not just the new Value Stream level (4th level), but also at the Program and team levels. This enables program and Scrum teams to work side by side for the release train.

The fourth level adds new roles, activities and artifacts, – complexity that is now seen as essential for what, as the organization "Scaled Agile" puts it, "for those building the world’s largest systems". It is supposed to be both modular and more scalable.

Another point of interest is the emphasis put on what is termed Communities of Practice, bringing together different teams and user groups. Perhaps groups from different areas of the business with separate instances of SAFe running, with the aim of establishing best practices for use of Agile tools and concepts to share what works internally.

Although the knowledge base is free to access, the courseware for 4.0 trainers is not (available now), introducing for the first time version specific certification (4.0 SPC exam), instantly creating demand for SAFe 4.0 certified trainers. The stated reason for this version specific certification is that this is a major release, different enough to warrant a separate certification level.

This release has been well prepared for, both in planning and documentation as one might expect. It includes built-in quality practice support for both software and systems development. Reading materials have been updated and new 4.0 content provided on the website. There is an in-depth information of SAFe 4.0 certification.

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