More than 1,000,000 individuals in 20,000 companies around the world have acknowledged the benefits of scaling agile with SAFe. Aggregated customer case studies have shown the following typical results:
Alignment is needed to keep pace with fast change, disruptive competitive forces, and geographically distributed teams. While empowered, Agile Teams are good (even great), but the responsibility for strategy and alignment cannot rest with the combined opinions of the teams, no matter how good they are. Instead, alignment must rely on the Enterprise business objectives. Here are some of the ways how SAFe supports alignment: Alignment starts with the strategy and investment decisions at the Portfolio level and is reflected in Strategic Themes, Portfolio Vision, the Portfolio Backlog, and the outcomes of Participatory Budgeting. In turn, this informs the Vision, Roadmap, and the backlogs at all levels of SAFe. Continuous Exploration with Customer Centricity and Design Thinking gathers the inputs and perspectives from a diverse group of stakeholders and information sources to ensure that the items in the backlogs contain economically prioritized and refined work, ready for teams to implement. All work is visible, debated, resolved and transparent. Alignment is supported by clear lines of content authority, starting with the portfolio and then resting primarily with the Product and Solution Management roles, and extending to the Product Owner role. PI Objectives and Iteration Goals are used to communicate expectations and commitments. Cadence and synchronization are applied to ensure that things stay in alignment, or that they drift only within reasonable economic and time boundaries. Architectures and user experience guidance and governance help ensure that the Solution is technologically sound, robust, and scalable. Economic prioritization keeps stakeholders engaged in continuous, agreed-to, rolling-wave prioritization, based on the current context and evolving facts. (https://www.scaledagileframework.com/safe-core-values/)
Another major benefit of scaling Agile is its capacity to assist teams in remaining aligned with corporate goals. This alignment is sometimes lost in Agile organizations that pursue a bottom-up approach, as developers and testers might lose sight of larger-picture business goals. SAFe’s top-down alignment and centralized decision-making, on the other hand, helps to ensure that strategic objectives stay top of mind and that all choices are taken in support of those objectives.
Align strategy and work
Scaling Agile connects the organization’s top-level goals with the individuals in charge of realizing them. This alignment has a variety of impacts, including improved cross-team cooperation, more transparency, and speedier reaction times, among others. Scaling Agile also stresses the development of ARTs (Agile Release Trains) to ensure that team objectives are aligned and that everyone in the business is focused on delivering value to consumers.
Alignment to business goals
SAFe manages (and does well) to break down some of the boundaries between business and technology. This means actively encouraging stakeholders to connect and collaborate with the right IT product delivery teams. Stakeholders also help objectively prioritize programs/work items by providing business value to each item, connecting business and technology in the context of the company’s ultimate goals, values and vision. The interaction occurs mainly through various events embedded in the framework itself, such as PI planning, system demo, scrum of scrums, etc. Remember, the last thing we want in a company-wide change is a complete mismatch between business strategy and IT delivery.
Some notes on the SAFe levels:
- At the team level, SAFe is essentially Scrum plus several XP (eXtreme Programming) practices. Teams can opt to use some Kanban practices to manage their workflow, see below.
- The program level coordinates team efforts with quarterly Program Increment Planning (PI Planning) and a team of teams called the Agile Release Train (ART), Release Train Engineer, as a servant leader and coach who facilitates the ART events.
- If you have a large product that more than 150 people work on, SAFe adds a solution train to coordinate the various ARTs and a Solution Train Engineer whose role is similar to the RTE’s but at a more integrated level.
- The portfolio level manages development streams and coordinates with the other levels to ensure that agile release trains and solution trains align with strategic goals.