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Are you safe with SAFe?

Agility has proven to be a highly effective tool for global businesses. It has helped organizations adapt to changing business environments and develop capabilities that have helped them overcome several economic challenges. With the recession and inflation fears becoming more relevant, businesses are using Agility as a shield to protect themselves and deliver products faster.

However, scaling Agile across the enterprise comes with multiple challenges.

Although lightweight frameworks such as SAFe have made things easier, it makes one wonder whether it is really foolproof or not. This article will discuss SAFe helps organizations scale Agile principles and how it is a lever for growth.


SAFe revolves around value creation

With the increased focus on customer experience, value creation has become a priority for most leaders. But most software development projects are complex with multiple deliverables. SAFe revolves around applying Lean-Agile principles to help teams focus their efforts on delivering products to the right audience at the right time.

It introduces the concept of value stream management that emphasizes the following principles:

  • Build technology portfolios of development value streams: The team must build a technical portfolio by precisely identifying what value is, what value will be delivered from the product, how the value flow will be, take customer feedback into account, and decide how to optimize the product further.
  • Realize value streams with product-focused Agile Release Trains (ARTs): This phase involves the development team applying the ART principles to reduce the delivery time.
  • Form Agile teams that can directly deliver value: At the heart of the product is the team who creates it. That’s why the Agile team must be customer-focused, cross-functional, and have the skills to execute the tasks efficiently.


Adopts a culture of communication

A recent study states that 60% of top executives considered digital transformation a critical driver for growth in 2022. And this transition introduces multiple challenges to businesses, big and small. With high stakes, fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration is critical for success.

The SAFe model creates an environment where coordination between multiple teams is possible. It standardizes processes and simplifies hierarchical structures to help teams collaborate closely, avoid risks and delays, and ensure on-time delivery. With cross-functional teams working together, information sharing increases which promote transparency. The heightened transparency enables teams to understand the scope of work and the product vision, which increases the work delivered and overall productivity.


It helps you evaluate your current approach and enhance your capabilities

Every software development process requires improvement. But implementing changes or even changing the current organizational approach can be overwhelming. SAFe encourages teams to reorganize their development processes and consider practical aspects.

Here is how:

Traditionally, all software developers agree on a single design, create a solution, and then modify it. However, this did not give them much time. SAFe introduced a better approach: The set-based design. Here developers consider multiple design options, consider the economic and technical tradeoffs, eliminate the weaker options, and ultimately agree on the final design. This approach finds variability and produces better outcomes.

Another thing the framework introduces us to is the concept of continuous integration, whereby all teams’ work is merged in a central repository, and automated tests are run. It helps developers recognize bugs, improve software quality, and release updates faster.


SAFe vs other Agile methodologies

Agile frameworks have been around for decades. While each has its benefits, it is critical to understand how SAFe is different and what greater purpose it serves. Let’s do a quick comparison.


SAFe and Scrum

Although both frameworks are popular and may seem similar, they are different. Scrum is an Agile framework where cross-functional teams work on complex problems and deliver product updates in smaller timeframes by breaking large projects into small increment cycles known as sprints. The stakeholders review the output, receive customer feedback, and incorporate changes. However, the thing is that Scrum works for smaller projects and is not suitable at an enterprise level.

And this is where SAFe comes in.

SAFe defines an approach for Scrum to make it work for large projects and ensure that multiple cross-functional teams can work together harmoniously to reduce time-to-market. It influences the entire organization and not just one project.


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SAFe and DevOps

SAFe and DevOps are mature frameworks that are often linked together. And for a good reason.

DevOps framework combines the development and operation teams to achieve faster software delivery. It includes implementing a set of technical principles and tools. It helps break down organizational silos and promotes the continuous delivery pipeline.

As the primary goal of SAFe is to enable organizations to deliver customer value, it helps implement DevOps principles at scale. It encourages organizations to follow the CAMLR approach for incorporating DevOps in SAFe. The recent Leading SAFe 5.1 update also talks about this, discussing in-depth how it will be possible to achieve continuous integration, deployment, and release on demand.


Looking at the bigger picture: Is SAFe really efficient?

After discussing at length the basic principles of SAFe and how it helps organizations implement other Agile frameworks like Scrum and DevOps, it is safe to say that SAFe is indeed efficient.

Over time, the framework has evolved, and the recent additions successfully address the current business challenges. With economic shakedowns happening across industries, businesses must change their model and become resilient. SAFe has been instrumental in increasing resiliency, and almost every mid-sized organization has put it into practice.

However, skill shortage remains a challenge.


With SAFe, Scrum, and DevOps gaining traction, companies need skilled talent to address the implementation challenges and ensure all the principles are followed religiously. Thankfully, SAFe, Scrum, and DevOps certifications can fulfill this gap.

They equip attendees with the knowledge and skills to implement these principles at an organizational level and explore lucrative career opportunities. The recent November job report shows promising results, indicating that payrolls will rise. But the business outlook shows signs of recession. So it is best to prepare yourself for shakedowns.