Agile workflow

6 min read

How SAFe Agile Increases Enterprise Performance

Thu Sep 02 2021
Jasmin Iordanidis
Written by Jasmin Iordanidis, Product Marketing Manager

Many organizations struggle to manage large-scale projects. SAFe can help.

SAFe gives you the framework and training that you need to make a sustainable change on a large scale. If you want to change on a small team level, department level, or across the enterprise, SAFe shows you how.

There are many benefits to implementing SAFe. But what exactly is it, and how can you use SAFe to help create a lean enterprise?

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SAFe background

SAFe is the acronym for “Scaled Agile Framework.” As agile focuses on small-scale continuous improvement, SAFe uses its philosophy at an enterprise level.

SAFe increases business agility, resulting in flexible and responsive teams for large organizations. SAFe uses its own set of values along with Lean-Agile principles.

This agile framework started when software systems expert Dean Leffingwell became frustrated with traditional work processes in the software industry. He developed the SAFe method to help change work processes that reaped results.

You can use this framework to instill a Lean-Agile mindset on a large scale. It focuses on constant improvements. As a result, enterprises improve work performance and productivity.

You can access training through Scaled Agile Inc. to scale work and improve performance in your enterprise.

Implementing SAFe at the team, program level, or enterprise is completely doable.

SAFe values

The Scaled Agile Framework uses four core values:

  1. Alignment of business decisions with the business vision, strategy, implementation and goals on a small to large scale.
  2. Built-in quality to produce desirable outcomes that create success.
  3. Transparency: Good decisions can only be made when comprehensive information is available.
  4. Program execution that links back to strategy and vision

By applying these values, teams and organizations increase engagement by making it clear what they expect of agile team behaviors and actions.

When everyone works together and understands their responsibilities, the chance of success increases dramatically. SAFe encourages openness and engagement in meeting individual and team responsibilities. So, if an individual or team hits a roadblock, they communicate to find joint solutions to problems.

At scale, organizations use Lean-Agile methodology to:

  • Drive the on-time delivery of software development products
  • Support quality product deliverables
  • Increase stakeholder engagement and satisfaction
  • Streamline performance based on regular, predictable schedules

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What is agile?

SAFe applies the agile methodology to larger teams. So, let's cover what agile means.

Agile methodology focuses on flexibility, collaboration, and value delivery. It means constantly adapting, or iterating, a product based on changing user and stakeholder needs. Agile teams rapidly respond to change and quickly adapt, whether they use Scrum or Kanban.

Every iteration has a set timebox. Team members use these increments to support streamlined workflows. They create, test, and deliver outcomes that work better than traditional work processes.

What is Lean?

Lean methodology also plays a role in SAFe.

The Lean method has its roots in the auto industry. Ford motors, Toyota expanded on Ford's methodology to further minimize waste and deliver value. Now, Lean has a more comprehensive set of principles with practical applications.

Lean highlights the importance of reviewing value streams to improve efficiency and create more customer value.

When you use Lean principles, teams create more value, higher performance, and increased productivity. In other words, Lean supports business agility.

SAFe incorporates this Lean method of work. So, you can also apply SAFe to lean portfolio management (LPM) and many other areas of the organization.

SAFe Agile principles

The SAFe Agile framework also focuses on 10 SAFe principles. These principles help link performance, quality, and profits.

  1. “Take an economic view.”
  2. “Apply systems thinking.”
  3. Assume variability; preserve options.” This means no one solution is correct, so teams should keep an open mind when discussing work approaches.
  4. Build rapidly in increments to hasten learning cycles.”
  5. Create milestones on objective analysis of working systems.”
  6. Envision and restrict WIP, limit work batch sizes, and control queue lengths.” Any stoppages and problems lengthen the time to market, increase the use of scarce resources and reduce potential profits. In short, “time is money.”
  7. Apply cadence, synchronize with cross-domain planning.”
  8. Encourage the innate motivation of knowledge within Scrum teams
  9. Spread the decision-making process
  10. Organize goals and work around the value that it creates

What is SAFe’s big picture?

SAFe agile: I Dont Understand Tim and Eric GIF

If you’re having a tough time trying to visualize SAFe, let’s look at the big picture. Whereas the typical agile team is smale, SAFe offers a way to scale agile methodologies to larger organizations. It focuses on cross-team collaboration and motivates everyone to adopt a Lean mindset.

This means streamlined work processes and a clearer understanding of which processes create value. It also encourages larger teams to constantly adapt  and improve.

The framework shows how strategic planning can transform into practical work execution. Agile teams use the Agile Release Train (ART) to collaborate at each level of work to make this happen. SAFe also offers training to become a Release Train Engineer to support change.

At each level, the framework also indicates the SAFe principles that teams must use. By using these principles, they achieve value creation via coordination and a flexible workflow.

Create and visualise dependences within a single team or between teams

Focused Team Planning

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The benefits of implementing SAFe

Leaders and employees can see the SAFe roadmap and workflow. They can also see the large-scale impact on business agility.

Some of the benefits of implementing SAFe include:

  • Improving systems thinking across the organization
  • Improving value streams and quality outcomes
  • Increasing productivity
  • Developing team environments through lean thinking
  • Decreasing time-to-market
  • Creating specific methods to achieve goals
  • Generating transparency that clarifies roles, responsibilities, and action
  • Removing silos and aligning smaller teams with the greater whole of the organization
  • Increasing business agility to meet overall organizational goals

SAFe Agile certification

You can take advantage of certified SAFe Agile training courses to upskill your agile teams. Scaled Agile Inc. offers various training courses to manage Agile transformation.

SAFe training courses can help you implement SAFe methodology, lead SAFe teams as a SAFe Scrum Master, and manage Lean portfolios in SAFe.

SAFe + Jira = Success

Combine SAFe and Jira, and you have a comprehensive framework for success. After starting with SAFe, enterprises report significant, quantifiable improvements in implementing strategies.

To keep up with SAFe methodology and stay agile at work, follow our blog. We also offer extensive resources on how to successfully use Jira software as part of implementing SAFe.Also, keep up with our podcast so you can hear the latest perspectives on the agile mindset while you work.

Lastly, check out Easy Agile Programs for Jira. This app helps align teams at scale with its Program Roadmap. Viewing dependencies and other milestones at the ART level. Try it for free.

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