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Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Explained the Easy Way

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September 10, 2021
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4 minutes
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

So, what is Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?

Before we discuss what Scaled Agile Framework is, let’s briefly talk about the Agile methodology. Simply put, the agile framework involves breaking up a project into various pases and working synergistically with the team to ensure constant improvement at every stage.

Now the thing is, the Agile framework works best for smaller organizations. So, how can the larger ones enjoy the benefits of Agile?

Well, that’s when the “Scaled” Agile Framework comes into play. It is a combination of workflow patterns, principles, and best practices that helps to implement Agile in large enterprises.

Principles of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

Now that you have the surface knowledge of the Scaled Agile Framework, let’s dive a little deeper and understand the nine principles that govern it.

#1: Take an economic view

With great projects, come great products, and great costs. When every decision-maker, team member, and stakeholder is aware of the cost of delaying a project, they will be motivated to arrange tasks for maximum benefits and operate within lean budgets.

#2: Apply systems thinking

In the SAFe context, a system includes the solution as well as the enterprise itself. So, all the staff members, management, and the processes that are used are all part of the system. Using system thinking helps everyone understand their role in the system better.

#3: Assume variability; preserve options

Unlike the traditional (Waterfall) approach, the agile framework prepares organizations, large or small, to embrace change and respond to it efficiently. One of the most important principles of SAFe is to have different options to handle change in the future.

#4: Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles

It does not matter if every component of a system works well individually—the whole system needs to be functional before deeming a design choice to be viable. So, the feedback that you should consider useful is the one that you get on the entire system, not just the components. That’s why you should build fast, get feedback fast, and learn from it.

#5: Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems

As mentioned in the previous point, you achieve a milestone when you have a fully functional system that gives the green light. That’s when the real objective is achieved.

#6: Visualize and limit Work in Process (WIP), reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths

Using small batch sizes and having a reasonable number of items on the WIP list makes a very large and complicated project more manageable. Clutter and long queues will only make things harder for everybody.

#7: Apply cadence, synchronize with cross-domain planning

Sprints are a very essential part of the Agile methodology. If you have not come across the term yet, here’s a simple explanation: sprints are small batches of time (for example, a week) in which a set number of tasks are completed, and then evaluated at the end of the sprint. This helps the team create a smooth cadence.

#8: Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers

In SAFe methodology, it’s the knowledge workers who perform the most important tasks, and their managers, who are up in the hierarchy, may not be an expert in the field. So, it’s really important to understand this dynamic and lead the subordinates accordingly, and that can be done by having faith in their abilities and letting them shine.

#9: Decentralize decision making

Tasks don't have to go through various levels of hierarchy to get final approval when autonomy is given to team members to make decisions. This will surely expedite the whole project.

“…the Agile movement in software is part of a larger movement towards more humane and dynamic workplaces in the 21st century.” Rowan Bunning

How Scaled Agile Framework Benefits Organizations

The Scaled Agile Framework benefits enterprises and individuals in many ways. Here are the top four advantages of SAFe.

1. Increased productivity

It lets individuals collaborate efficiently and help everyone put their best foot forward by giving them a clear description of their role in the process.

2. Faster completion of projects

The term ‘agile’ itself relates to speed and quickness. The SAFe framework enables faster communications and streamlined operations, which allows the team to deliver to the project rather swiftly.

3. Happy team members

Who doesn’t like autonomy as a knowledge worker? The Scaled Agile Framework offers decision-making powers to workers at almost every level, which increases their job satisfaction.

4. High-quality outputs

If you read principle #5 again, you’ll understand this benefit better. When organizations apply the SAFe framework, working systems are thoroughly evaluated to make sure they are of the best quality possible.

How to Get Started With SAFe

It’s understandable if the information in this article appears a bit overwhelming to you. Truly, SAFe is a complicated framework for those who are not used to it. But it’s okay—you don’t have to get used to it. Why? Because there are experts out there who will do the heavy lifting on your behalf.

And who are these experts? Well, based on your requirement, you can either hire an agile project manager or an agile coach.

An Agile project manager deploys new solutions, allocates resources in an effective way, and helps your team adapt to changes. Hiring an Agile coach, on the other hand, helps your team learn and incorporate the Agile methodologies in their project.

Here at Consultport, we have got some of the most experienced agile project managers and coaches in the world.

We believe in agility as well, that’s why most of our projects are staffed in less than 48 hours—no kidding.

So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch now and we will be happy to find you an Agile expert.