Everything you need to know about what is SAFe?

Implementing lean-agile practices is not easy for businesses, as there are a lot of complex processes involved. Many enterprises look for a reliable business framework to revolutionize themselves. It is where SAFe comes in. SAFe is a framework or structure, which can help you to generate high-quality leads by making your existing or potential customers satisfied

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Many organizations do not know about the exceeding benefits of SAFe. Today, we will discuss what is SAFe? and what are its core values and principles. This comprehensive guide about SAFe will help you understand whether SAFe is the gateway for your business or not.

What is SAFe?

Before learning how SAFe can help you with your business, first, let’s talk about what is SAFe? SAFe stands for Scaled Agile Framework. As the name suggests, it is a framework or a knowledge base that is used for software development while integrating Agile, Lean, and DevOps practices at an enterprise scale.

As SAFe is a knowledge base, it consists of workflow patterns or series of activities, and establishments that help development teams to successfully scale lean, and agile practices so they can make their enterprise grow. 

As SAFe helps you to integrate Agile methodology, it is flexible and highly customizable. It means you can meet all the requirements of your customers without any inconvenience. Hence, the framework is best for enterprises seeking to considerably improve their customer relationship and teamwork. 

With agile methodology software developers, teams, and organizations can improve their efficiency and find solutions to the problems organizations face when employing the agile approach. In short, SAFe helps software development teams to deliver authentic and reliable software solutions to their customers. 

Furthermore, SAFe has three different levels or foundations. They are:

  • Team
  • Program
  • Portfolio

What is SAFe? - History

SAFe was established in 2011 and introduced by Dean Leffingwell to the public. He introduced SAFe to the audience by mentioning the framework in his books and blogs. He called the framework The Big Picture. The online knowledge base guides the software development organizations to implement the agile methodology at Portfolio, Program, Value Stream, and Team. 

The framework was structured to help software development organizations to replace the traditional project management approach. The framework has numerous versions, and the latest version is SAFe 5.0. The new model of the framework has helped several organizations at an enterprise level to deliver satisfactory software solutions. 

Foundations of Scaled Agile Framework

There are 6 fundamental foundations on which Scaled Agile Framework is based upon. These 6 foundations are:

  • The first foundation of SAFe is to follow Lean-Agile principles that can make project management and technical practices more efficient.
  • The second foundation of SAFe is its four Core Values.
  • Lean-Agile leader, which can help solution development teams to integrate a lean-agile mindset into the software development practices.
  • Collaborating teams in a workplace, otherwise known as Communities of practice.
  • Applying 1-2-3, so everyone gets trained and learns about SAFe implementation.

What are the principles of SAFe?

SAFe, a well-known agile framework is based on ten principles, which are specified below.

  • Develop cost-effective systems while using the limited resources, otherwise known as an economic view. Understanding how parts of a system are related and the interaction between them. It is also known as Systems thinking.
  • Designing multiple levels in a system to choose efficient alternatives. In short, you must Assume Variability.
  • Integrated learning cycles should be implemented to make the system more quickly so a value can be delivered.
  • A working system should be labeled as the means of evaluation of success in the project development.
  • Reduce work-in-progress, batch size, and queue lengths to improve workflow and avoid framework switching.
  • Integrate cadence and synchronization to reduce uncertainties in solution development.
  • Motivate knowledge workers to improve the solution development process.
  • Decision-making should not be limited to an individual.
  • Keep value in mind.

All these ten principles of SAFe are specified below in more detail.

Economic View insights

According to this principle, organizations that want to deliver the best solution to their customers in the shortest lead time while remaining within their budget should understand the basic concept of economics of a mission. Without understanding this principle, organizations can spend more than their listed budget on developing a single system. Furthermore, they can take more time to deliver. 

What about system things

According to this principle, individuals in an organization face numerous challenges in the marketplace. These problems can be solved by understanding the systems within which they work in. Systems thinking is an all-inclusive approach through which you can identify how different parts of a system are interrelated and work to form one bigger picture.

Variability insights

While developing a software solution, you must consider variability both market, and technical ones and consider numerous requirements and design options in the development life cycle to avoid future complications, and reduce overheads. 

learning cycles Integration

The faster you develop and deliver a software solution to your customers, the faster you get feedback from them. All of this would help you address uncertainty and reduce risk. You should test and find out the increments which can add new features and functions to the solution.

Objective evaluation 

A system that is functioning as the way it should be used for decision making than a requirements document or by making numerous laws to analyze the success. Doing this helps you to make better project development decisions in the future and avoid complications. 

WIP, reduce batch and queue sizes

This principle helps organizations at an enterprise level to reduce the repetitive work, the intricacy of an item involved in the development, and increasing the efficiency by increasing the workload in a certain time. 

Cadences provide organizations a systematic rhythm in which a system should be developed. Matching these Cadences reduces risk, uncertainty and ensures that the system is fully functional. 

To get the best results the individuals or teams in an organization involved in software solution development, otherwise known as knowledge workers must be focused and highly motivated. And the responsibility of unlocking the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers is in the hands of a team leader, for example, the manager. 

It is a process where the decision-making authority is dispersed throughout a larger group. And for delivering fast value systems an organization at an enterprise-level must integrate this strategy. 

Decentralized decision-making ensures that no complications arise when the system is being developed, enables faster feedback, and the software solution is more innovative and tends to solve numerous problems of the customers.

Organize around value

To integrate an agile methodology in your organization, you must organize around value, which means to meet the swift change of customers in an instant. In short, this principle allows enterprises to deliver new value to their customers as swiftly as possible. 

What is SAFe? - Core values

SAFe has four essential core values. This includes:

  • Alignment – It means matching cadences and planning while developing a software solution to ensure that every individual in the company understands the aim, and what should be done to achieve it. All this helps levels of the portfolio to stay in alignment that helps an enterprise to deliver solid results to their customers.
  • Built-in quality – SAFe involves that quality should not be compromised to achieve agility and that it is not added later. SAFe requires that every incremental delivery should be of high quality that reflects truly satisfies the customers. 
  • Transparency – SAFe requires practice transparency, which means reducing batch sizes, so few complications arise, and if they do, they could be found without any inconvenience and delivered on time.
  • Program Execution – SAFe places great focus on working systems and resultant business outcomes. According to SAFe, a team is not effective, if it cannot deliver value or new values at all.

Why to use SAFe?

After knowing what is SAFe? You must be wondering why you should use the framework, right? SAFe is an easy-to-implement framework that helps organizations at an enterprise level to integrate an Agile business approach in their business model. The framework has helped over 20,000 enterprises to achieve or meet the needs of great value streams. Furthermore, SAFe helps enterprises to mitigate the risk, uncertainties involved in system development. 

Other than that, SAFe is a reliable framework built to improve productivity, product quality, delivery time, AKA Time to Market, and Motivation, or engagement of the employees in an enterprise. All these are also the benefits of SAFe. 

SAFe consists of a workflow pattern that is needed to be followed to ensure faster customer feedback and scale agile at an enterprise level. With SAFe, enterprises can meet the ever-changing demands of customers, build trust, improve teamwork, and ensure results.  

SAFe vs Scrum 

By now, you must be fully aware about what is SAFe? Now it is time to have a look at a similar framework, known as Scrum. Both are great options for establishing a well-defined agile business model. However, there are a number of differences between the two frameworks.


  • Suitable for organizations at enterprise level. 
  • Used in the project development involving large teams. 
  • Requires thorough and well-defined planning to ensure better results. 
  • Greater degree of adjustment.
  • More transparent. 
  • Suitable for iterative software development solutions. 
  • Ideal for achieving large value streams. 


  • Not ideal for organizations at enterprise level. 
  • Used in the project development involving small teams. 
  • More flexible as compared to SAFe.
  • More communication is involved in team to get optimized results. 
  • Does not require a thorough and well-defined planning to ensure better results. 
  • Reduced degree of standardization. 
  • Reduced overheads.


The above-specified is a detailed overview of what is SAFe? And how does it help enterprises achieve agility

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