Scaled Agile Framework

What is the Scaled Agile Framework?

Are you looking for a way to use Agile Methodologies in your business, but your worried your workforce might be too big or too small for some of the common Agile approaches? Fortunately, there’s an answer to finding an Agile framework that works well for any company: the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). SAFe is a popular Agile implementation that blends both Agile and Lean enterprise concepts for a scalable approach that enables rapid development of complex software solutions and systems, regardless of the size of your business.

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In this article, we’ll explore what the Scaled Agile Framework actually is, and some core competencies of being a Lean-Agile enterprise.

The Scaled Agile Framework Explained

The Scale Agile Framework empowers businesses to deliver enterprise-level software in a short timeframe. As the software world is constantly developing, rolling out new capabilities every minute, it’s vital that other software development companies keep up with the latest trends. However, enterprises often struggle to make complex software launches happen quickly. Through SAFe, your DevOps teams are able to develop complex software faster. SAFe addresses five main components of software delivery: 

  • Architecture

  • Integration

  • Governance

  • Funding

  • Roles

SAFe operates with some of the same basic concepts used other approaches to Agile, like Scrum or Kanban, in which products are developed in iterations with each component building on the last iteration. In fact, 70% of Forbes 100 Companies employ SAFe certified professionals or consultants. An extensive body of knowledge, SAFe describes the roles, responsibilities, artifacts, and activities necessary to implement Lean-Agile development.

Why Should Teams Consider Using SAFe?

In many cases, it is vital to find different approaches to development that are designed for a specific number of team members. For example, some development approaches work for large teams but don’t fit into the infrastructure of small teams. SAFe was designed to fit the needs of teams as small as 50 or 100 people, while still operating efficiently enough to facilitate development in teams of thousands of employees. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of SAFe is revealed in the first word of the framework – scalability.

Regardless of the size of your organization or the complexity of your operations, SAFe can be used by your teams for enterprise development. To be a Lean-Agile enterprise, there are five competencies that your business should strive to align with:

Lean-Agile Leadership

The best way to promote organizational change is through positive leadership and investment in each individual team member. Lean-Agile leaders promote the Lean-Agile mindset, values, principles, and practices. Through coaching others, leading by example, learning, and teaching, these leaders encourage their entire organization to place a focus on Lean-Agile principles. Using positive leadership examples, you will see an increase in employee happiness and organizational productivity.

Team and Technical Agility

The team and technical agility competency refers to the need for organizations to have high-functioning teams with high-quality skills. Let’s look first at the team agility aspect. Your teams should be well-oiled machines functioning at maximum efficiency, working together to deliver the best results.

In terms of technical agility, your team members should also have the technical skills to create high-quality deliverables or software solutions that will benefit customers both now and in the future. Some features of team and technical agility include Agile testing, quality assurance, Behavior-Driven development (BDD), Test-Driven Development (TDD), and more.

DevOps and Release on Demand

Today, it’s vital to meet the expectations and needs of your market through continuous delivery. Incremental development and rapid release lead to greater customer satisfaction and an improvement in overall processes. DevOps has become a buzzword in the software industry, referring to Development and Operational professionals working together throughout the lifetime of the project, from creation and launch through operational oversight.

Release on demand focuses on developing and launching high-value aspects of a project first, and then adding the “bells and whistles” later, building on the framework that has already been established. This focus on high-value features first means faster development and shorter launch timeframes.

Continuous delivery plays a key role in this competency, as well. Instead of the waterfall approach to software development where an entire project is launched only after it has been totally completed, continuous delivery allows teams to constantly improve upon a project that has already been launched. For example, if you were launching a website, you might launch the core pages of the site fist, adding pages later as they are developed.

Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering

As one of the five core competencies of SAFe, business solutions and Lean systems engineering offers a new approach to developing, launching, and evolving complex software solutions. Instead of launching a large software solution in stages, you can deliver large-scale solutions based on project flow and how high-value tasks are. This means complex software solutions can be launched faster than ever.

Lean Portfolio Management

Before we get to Lean Portfolio Management, the final SAFe core competency, let’s establish what a Lean portfolio refers to. A SAFe portfolio refers to the group of people – project managers, developers, etc. – and processes that are needed to build a solution. Lean portfolio management involves projects like formulating and executing portfolio vision and strategy, developing Lean budgets, prioritized the portfolio, road-mapping the portfolio, and more.

Now that you have a better understanding of these core competencies, you should consider both how to integrate this approach into your business operations, and what the Scaled Agile Framework could do for you and your own objectives as a project manager.

Fortunately, there is a way to leverage the Scaled Agile Framework for positive results in your own career. The best place to start your endeavor to add value through SAFe is by gaining your SAFe certification. Remember: 70% of Forbes 100 companies have SAFe certified professionals on-site, demonstrating the value of this certification to numerous companies.

This certification requires you to pass the SAFe 4 Agilist Certification Exam and by passing the exam, you will demonstrate to employers, clients, and your team members that you have the knowledge and skills to manage SAFe projects and processes.

The best way to prepare for this exam is by finding a training course provider who can give you the material and instruction you need to pass. These training courses cover everything you need to know, not only to pass the exam but also to use SAFe in your own career. In fact, you can find SAFe courses lasting only two days, making it easy to work this preparation into your schedule. Through SAFe Certification training, you are sure to be prepared for the exam and achieve positive results in your career.

Do you want to learn more about SAFe and the benefits you could reap from earning your certification? Check out our SAFe SA certification course page.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO