June 24. 2024

Are you on the way to getting your enterprise running smoothly on Agile rails? Or maybe your project has scaled, so Scrum or Kanban aren’t a fit anymore? Or maybe you have just started a large new project that involves multiple large teams?

Ivan Kamyshan, Senior Software Engineer at Conscensia shares his thoughts on the Scaled Agile Framework SAFe. He outlines a few signs, pinpointing a possible need for scaling and describes the necessities for successful operation within the framework. 

If the words “scaled”, “enterprise” and “agile” crop up when you’re describing your challenge, think about the SAFe framework; it may be the solution you’re looking for. 

SAFe is a framework that encompasses a set of principles, processes and best practices, and helps enterprises to broaden their Agile journey.  

Creating a scaled Agile environment calls for more than a bunch of rules and rituals. It is more about establishing the right mindset and incorporating Agile culture within the enterprise. SAFe covers both aspects and helps expand agility outwards from product development to the entire organization.  

The framework is like a cake which consists of different Agile layers such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming and on the top it is flavoured according to the needs of scaled organizations. SAFe uses the three pillars of Scrum: transparency, inspection, adaptation, and supports the Scrum values.

When You Should Consider SAFe

If your project has been running for some time using another Agile framework, it might take time to recognize the need for change and scale. These two signs are good indications that you should consider shifting to SAFe 

  • If your Scrum team suffers from planning and development cross-team dependencies which can’t be eliminated by separating teams;
  • If you have one team on the project that multiplies into a few teams, all of which require cooperation.
Top view of a person working on a laptop with overlay icons depicting Agile workflow, collaboration, Agile methodology, rocket for innovation, and speed.

How to Incorporate SAFe and Who Can Do It?

SAFe uses different roles: Agile Team, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Release Train Engineer; some projects might also require DevOps, Architect Engineers and others. Each role has its specific tasks requiring additional qualifications and education. 

There are certifications for each of these roles but the trickiest task is successfully applying theoretical knowledge to real-life situations. Therefore, if a SAFe Scrum Master is certified, has been properly coached and is familiar with SAFe documentation, he/she should be skilled enough to manage one team. After some time this specialist might be able to manage a few teams. 

SAFe can be adapted to specific project and team needs, consider them but retain all essential elements of the framework. Doing so requires practical experience. The framework guidance suggests beginning by shifting from small steps and basic principles, without pushing too hard whilst remaining sensitive to current project and team needs. 

Being an Agile leader within the enterprise calls for a proper education, relevant experience and most of the willingness to change and guide the team through changes. When all these requirements are met, the organization will benefit from agility and enjoy the upside that the SAFe framework can provide. 

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