The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe): Everything You Need to Know
Scaled Agile framework contains four core values transparency, program execution, in-built quality, alignment, and leadership.
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Built for enterprise development teams, SAFe was first introduced in the year 2011. Dean Leffingwell was the brain behind it. The framework revolves around agile methodology, lean methodology, and systems thinking.
The said practices were used to manage teams, portfolios, and programs until SAFe 3.0. With the arrival of SAFe 4.0, an additional level, i.e., value streams, is also added to the framework.
SAFe could improve things for enterprises to a great extent. Interested in learning more about this framework? Read ahead.
What is SAFe?
The Scaled Agile Framework is free and available online for easy deployment. It is a set of organizational processes and workflow patterns that are helpful in enterprise-grade enablement of agile practices.
You may consider SAFe a well-structured interactive knowledge base to guide you in work planning, team management, organizational value upholding, role distribution, and handling of responsibilities at various levels.
For organizations with complex structures and processes, SAFe is the effective method to leverage the advantages of Lean-agile methodologies and systems development through design thinking. Implemented carefully, The Scaled Agile Framework will help you scale agile faster for your organization.
The Scaled Agile Framework Core Values
To deploy agile throughout the organization, SAFe suggests a set of values that leadership must cultivate. It emphasizes the ideal culture for the business setup and behavioral traits for the impactful implementation of the framework. The core values promoted by SAFe are:
Transparency is the key catalyst for trust-building in an organization. Therefore, SAFe encourages adding multiple milestones in each project and planning work in tiny batches. By doing this, businesses can notice the problems quickly, monitor processes in real-time, and inspect the workflow without hassles.
Teams and programs must both deliver value. For this, program execution must be handled very diligently. SAFe encourages continual delivery of value through software products as well as business processes.
The quality of services and products is very important in The Scaled Agile Framework. It considers that 'done' is an objective term and must be defined when used. For example, when a team member changes the status of a task, updates progress made, or has concerns, it must be written. This is because, by using quality-oriented practices, service and product quality can be maintained very easily.
In the case of software development, this core value should be attained for:
- Process flow.
- Design quality.
- System quality.
- Release quality.
- Code quality.
All relevant individuals and hierarchy levels in the organization must understand the current state of the business, its approaching goals, and plan execution strategy. For this, the upward and downward flow of information must be timely, uniform, and well-controlled. Businesses also need to have a reliable communication channel, rhythm in feedbacks (and their execution), and effective strategies for the implementation of plans. In short, everything in the organization must be well-aligned.
All core values listed above depend directly or indirectly on the organization's leadership. SAFe promotes lean-agile leadership behavior. Creating the needed environment and improving the systems to help the other components (human and non-human) of the business embrace the core values suggested.
The Scaled Agile Framework Principles
SAFe framework principles focus on improving each component of your organization through better decision-making. It tries to help businesses do well on the functional as well as the organizational front. For this, it encourages enhancing decision-making for everyone — including managers and the people in the lower levels of the organization hierarchy.
Lean Portfolio Management techniques are used to deploy SAFe principles, while the purpose of this implementation being — enables everyone to cultivate a lean-agile mindset.
The SAFe Principles:
- Principle 1: Arrange jobs in a reasonable order, comprehend economic trade-offs, execute the plan as per the lean budget.
- Principle 2: Use Systems thinking for the solution, business ecosystem (people, management, processes), and value streams. Here, value streams refer to the flow of value in functional and organizational domains.
- Principle 3: Always think of possible risks and worst cases. Also, have a secondary action plan or options to handle the uncertainty.
- Principle 4: With the project milestones, also deploy learning milestones. An organization must target to come up with a scalable, feasible, functional, well-designed, and quality-oriented product. For this, regular self-reflection phases and learning milestones are essential.
- Principle 5: Perform objective evaluation of your working systems and take milestones-related decisions as per that.
- Principle 6: Utilize your visualization capacity to imagine the process before its actual implementation. Also, create small batch sizes and milestones for your work in order to effectively handle errors at the early stages as they arrive.
- Principle 7: Reflect on your work through iterative reviewing and feedback sessions. Such type of cadence should be put in place for everything and synchronized with cross-domain strategy-making.
- Principle 8: Rather than instructing and showing off the power, top-level officials must guide their teams through knowledge and coaching skills.
- Principle 9: Give your teams the opportunity to make some decisions on their own and preserve the decision-making authority for yourself when the subject seems more crucial.
Deployment of SAFe at Work
To implement The Scaled Agile Framework in your workplace, you must take the following steps:
- Adhere to SAFe core principles and values for your practices.
- Figure out the main components of the SAFe framework in your organization, such as value streams, ARTs (Agile Release Trains).
- Train your teams (all levels) to handle lean-agile change management and tell them thoroughly about SAFe.
- Plan the SAFe deployment strategy and implement it.
- Prepare for ART Launch, make your team capable enough to handle ART, and launch ART in the end.
- ART execution, value streams management, and manage a portfolio.
- Continual monitoring for sustaining and regular improvements on the go.
The Final Word
SAFe and other similar frameworks help enterprises improve their viability, scale agile, achieve more and transform digitally. Though initial deployment may take some time, deploying The Scaled Agile Framework for your organization is totally worth it.
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