What is the SAFe methodology? - Scaled Agile Framework.
The SAFe methodology or Scaled Agile Framework is a workflow that serves to implement Agile practices at an enterprise scale. The framework constitutes a collection of knowledge that includes structured instructions on functions and responsibilities, how to plan and manage work, and the values of the company.
60% of the companies in the top 100 of Fortune US have "SAFe consultants" or certificates in "Leading SAFe".
Why is this?
Simple: SAFe is the most effective framework in the world when it comes to enterprise agility.
Larger organizations tend to move slowly and have more resistance to change compared to smaller companies. In a way, strongly ingrained customs; barriers based on policies and processes; and bureaucracy tend to thrive in larger corporate environments.
Despite this, large organizations seek the benefits of agile development and one way to achieve this is through the SAFe methodology. This is a tool that they can adopt to overcome difficulties that interfere with the success of their projects.
Basically, the SAFe methodology offers large corporations a work methodology to become more agile. Through this methodology, they can launch products and services to the market in less time.
What is SAFe methodology?
Dean Leffingwell and Drew Jemilo published SAFe in 2011. Their goal was to help organizations design systems and software that could better meet consumer needs.
At that time, teams used traditional project management processes to develop and launch software products.
Due to the need to respond quickly to changing market conditions, new project management methodologies emerged. This is how SAFe was born. Version 1.0 was the first official release in 2011; the latest version (5.0) was released in January 2020.
The SAFe or Scaled Agile Framework methodology is a workflow that serves to implement Agile practices at an enterprise scale. The framework constitutes a body of knowledge that includes structured instructions on functions and responsibilities, how to plan and manage work, and company values.
SAFe and other project management approaches
SAFe adopts principles and techniques from other project management methodologies and frameworks. It integrates adjacent agile principles such as Lean, Kanban, Scrum, and systems thinking to provide a system for continuous improvement. It is particularly suitable for complex projects involving multiple teams and large-scale projects, programs, and portfolios.
Specifically, SAFe is based on Agile principles and values, which provide specific guidance for scaling in large, complex, distributed, or high-compliance environments. It favors efficiency and links the company's strategies with execution.
Lean development focuses on reducing waste while maximizing production and increasing value for stakeholders. It follows seven key principles: reduce waste, improve quality, share knowledge with others, remain in a state of continuous improvement, and accelerate the process.
Kanban focuses on continuous collaboration and fosters an environment of constant learning and improvement. It uses visual boards and cards to help teams see completed, in-progress, and pending tasks.
Scrum uses interactive sessions or "30-day sprints" to determine priority tasks. Small teams can be gathered to focus on specific tasks independently. They can then meet with the Scrum master to evaluate progress or results and re-prioritize overdue tasks.
Advantages of implementing the SAFe methodology
Its implementation allows for the following:
The implementation of Lean-Agile software and systems in the business environment.
Provides a detailed guide for working across the enterprise portfolio, value stream, program, and team.
Meets the needs of all stakeholders within an organization.
Can increase productivity by 20-50%, quality by over 50%, and decrease time to market by 30-75%.
Agile methods help teams do better work. Many organizations adopt the methodology organically, starting with a single team. However, often when agility is scaled across multiple teams, departments or business units, challenges arise.
The need for alignment, planning, roles, and communication that may seem simple between a dozen team members becomes challenging when it comes to hundreds or even thousands of people.
The ability of organizations to manage their projects more agilely enables stakeholders from many groups to obtain feedback more quickly. This accelerated feedback loop leads to higher levels of engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, and better quality work.
The principles of the SAFe methodology
SAFe provides organizations with a working guide to answer questions such as what, why, who, when, and how to apply Agile across the enterprise. It is based on fundamental concepts that have evolved from Agile principles and methods, Lean product development, systems thinking, and observation of successful companies.
Adopt an economic view
Offering "the best value and quality for people and society in the shortest possible time" requires a fundamental understanding of the economics of building systems. Daily decisions must be made in an appropriate economic context. This includes the strategy for delivering incremental value and the broader economic framework for each value stream.
Apply systems thinking
To address workplace and market challenges, it is necessary to understand the systems in which workers and users operate. To improve, everyone must understand the broader goal of the system.
Assume variability, preserve options
Traditional practices encourage the choice of a single design and requirement option at the beginning of the development process. If that starting point turns out to be wrong, adjustments take too long and can lead to suboptimal design. A better approach is to maintain multiple requirements and design options over a longer period of the development cycle.
With rapid integrated learning cycles that enable customer feedback and reduce risks.
Limit the amount of work in progress
Reduce batch size and manage queue length to enable continuous flow.
Apply cadence (timing)
Synchronize with cross-domain formation to recognize business opportunities and enable corrective action as needed; this provides the necessary mechanisms to operate effectively in the presence of inherent development uncertainty.
Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
Lean-Agile leaders know that ideation, innovation, and employee engagement are not motivated by individual incentive compensation.
These can create internal competition and destroy the cooperation necessary to achieve the broader goal of the system. Providing autonomy and purpose, minimizing constraints, creating an environment of mutual influence, and better understanding the role of compensation are the keys to achieving higher levels of employee engagement.
This approach produces better results for individuals, customers, and the company.
Decentralize decision-making to be more agile and effective
The reality is that large corporations make decisions centrally, slowing down work for the rest of the organization. Hence, the importance of sharing decision-making with more leaders in the company.
Organize around value
In the digital age, the only sustainable competitive advantage is how quickly an organization can respond to the needs of its customers with new and innovative solutions. Business agility demands that companies organize around value to deliver it more quickly. And when market and customer demands change, the company must quickly and smoothly reorganize around that new value stream.
There are many options to learn about the SAFe methodology, take your time to research and choose the training that best fits your business goals.