Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe) is the most popular framework to implement agile, Lean, and DevOps practices at scale. It promotes alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution across large numbers of agile teams by:
- Building on Agile’s foundation of principles and values by providing specific guidance for scaling in large, complex, distributed, or high-compliance settings
- Extending agile principles from the team level to teams of agile teams, solutions and portfolios, creating efficiencies and linking company strategy to execution
- Integrating agile-adjacent principles such as Lean, DevOps, and systems thinking to provide an effective, continuously improving system, updated with customer learnings and the latest thinking and practices
Hoylu sat down with Agile Coach Milan Zbirkovsky to talk about SAFe, its benefits, and implementation. Milan is a part of the Agile Enablement Office at FedEx.
Q: What is SAFe and how does it help organizations?
SAFe will work for any organization that wants to survive in the Digital Age — giving us enough tools to benefit from functional hierarchy in our organization as well as Value Stream Network (fast-moving, adaptive network of motivated individuals aligned to a common vision). It helps any organizations better understand their customers and deliver value early and often. Customer centricity is core for the success, not just for one small Agile Team, but for complete organization.
Other frameworks would tell you similar, but you might find advice to be blurred, not very clear how to run things and especially in large organizations, without enough of experienced change agents, can be the breaking point. SAFe on another side provides a very detailed Implementation Roadmap supported by various training for special roles such as Product Owner, Product Manager, Architects, Agile Teams, Lean Portfolio Management, and more.
Q: How does SAFe help deliver more value?
In order to deliver value, you need to focus on mastering a few things: Faster Time-to-Market, Increase in Productivity, Improvements in Quality and Increase in Employee Engagement.
Based on SAFe case studies, organizations are reporting significant growth in those areas. In fact, SAFe is implemented by 20,000 enterprises across the globe and industry so we can take this feedback seriously.
SAFe is using Agile Team as a building block to any SAFe configuration and adding layers on the top of it. Every specific role or event is very well described, there are enough supporting materials, trainings, videos, podcasts, or slide decks to walk you through.
Q: How do you implement SAFe?
Implementation of SAFe can be challenge but the benefits are truly worth it.
From my experience, it can take roughly 6 months and more to implement SAFe, where SAFe trainings would be only minor effort out of all 12 steps. The transformation journey is never finished as long as the world around us rapidly changes. There is always a place for improvement and such as it, SAFe frameworks are evolving too.
While no two adoptions are identical, SAFe framework offers the following 12-step Implementation Roadmap:
- Reaching the Tipping Point
- Train Lean-Agile Change Agents
- Train Executives, Managers, and Leaders
- Create a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence
- Identify Value Streams and ARTs
- Create the Implementation Plan
- Prepare for ART Launch
- Train Teams and Launch the ART
- Coach ART Execution
- Launch More ARTs and Value Streams
- Extend to the Portfolio
The Implementation Roadmap is proven by many large organizations. You should start with only one Agile Release Train (ART) because you want to see if its valuable for your teams, company and ultimately to your customers.
Stayed tuned for more Q&As about SAFe.