What Is SAFe in Agile Development?

In the world of agile frameworks, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has gained massive popularity for its approach to enterprise guidance and management. It works as a set of systemic patterns designed to develop and distribute effective factors of production for organizations across agile teams.

The SAFe agile model functions on a set of principles intended to facilitate decision-making within an organization and promote the change from traditional thought processes to lean-agile thinking. These principles help improve the collaborative efforts between all members of an organization to support the effective functioning of its business practices.

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of SAFe

Benefits of SAFe

SAFe operates on core values that express the cultural practices necessary to use the framework effectively. According to Atlassian, these values include alignment, built-in quality, transparency, program execution, and leadership. By following the values through the use of the framework, organizations can build interpersonal strengths and improve the functioning of their team.

SAFe is constantly evolving to suit the ever-changing needs of its users.

Another key benefit to SAFe’s design is that it is constantly evolving to suit the ever-changing needs of its users. For example, the SAFe 5.0 version was recently implemented by Scaled Agile, Inc., to offer users an experience built on updated agile principles suited to the modern workforce. These changes include the promotion of agile acceleration in business development, and organization around streams of value.

Disadvantages of SAFe

As with any development system, SAFe does have its fair share of features that may not suit the needs of all its potential users. For example, not all individuals will appreciate the expansive terminology that SAFe uses or the SAFe Agile Certification Course, but knowledge of specific terms, principles, and practices is necessary to navigate the framework.

Additionally, according to Product Coalition, SAFe uses a layering system that organizes roles based on administration. Having roles fall within specific administrative layers can limit the freedom and decision-making abilities of certain team members. Finally, this agile framework was created with larger businesses in mind, and therefore small businesses and start-ups with fewer members are less likely to benefit from SAFe’s design.

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SAFe and Other Agile Frameworks

Features of SAFe agile make it a competitive tool among the other agile frameworks often used for organizational and workflow practices. SAFe’s functionality shares similarities with other agile options, but its specialized functions allow it to keep up with the changes in growing a business. As a result, SAFE’s features are comparable to those of Scrum, DA, and Spotify.

SAFe vs Scrum

Many organizations that use SAFe have a foundation on Scrum, which speaks to the similarities of these frameworks. Both the SAFe and Scrum@Scale (S@S) frameworks offer reference content outlines and user guides, and each follows guiding principles that touch on similar ideals. Each tool emphasizes system thinking and lean thinking, but SAFe and Scrum do have their differences.

SAFe is more strategy-focused, while Scrum is focused more on customer-centrism and waste reduction.

For example, while they both offer configurations to accommodate growing teams with complex solutions, SAFe offers four configurations, and Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) only provides two. In addition, LeSS supports product owners with complete content authority and strategic influence, whereas SAFe promotes a more democratic approach. SAFe is also more strategy-focused, while Scrum is focused more on customer-centrism and waste reduction.

SAFe vs DA

Disciplined Agile (DA) is a toolkit with similar properties to SAFe in that both are frameworks used to assist organizations with scale-based management. However, DA enables organizations to explore various methods and figure out a way of working that makes the most sense for them. While the SAFe framework is very rigid in its user functionality for organizational processes, DA helps organizations maintain more flexibility across their enterprise.

SAFe vs Spotify

Spotify was not developed to serve as a framework for organizations. Yet, both the Spotify and SAFe models can function to help businesses — specifically through the organization of workforce teams. However, a notable difference between these systems is that the Spotify framework promotes self-organizing, cross-functional, and colocated squads of individuals. SAFe does not share these stipulations on team colocation.

Who Should Use SAFe?

Among all the agile framework methods available today, not all options are created the same, and many methodologies may be more suited to serve the needs of some users than others. The SAFe agile model of development is best suited to large-scale organizations or businesses looking for a framework to grow and develop with them. The tool has a lot to offer, and the users that can gain the most from SAFe are individuals who possess both the time and motivation necessary to master the system thoroughly.

With the various agile framework options currently on the market, SAFe is most helpful for users who wish to utilize agile frameworks on a developing agile scale. SAFe provides a structured approach for larger organizations that want to optimize their workflow and continue growing and building upon their enterprise.

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Madeline Clarke
Madeline Clarke
Madeline is a freelance writer specializing in copywriting and content creation. After studying Art and earning her BFA in Creative Writing at Salisbury University she applied her knowledge of writing and design to develop creative and influential copy. She has since formed her business, Clarke Content, LLC, through which she produces entertaining, informational content and represents companies with professionalism and taste. You can reach Madeline via email at madelineclarkebusiness@gmail.com

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