The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a framework for scaling agility. It is clearly becoming popular with larger organisations, especially large software vendors producing ERP & core-banking solutions. It can also be used in large corporate IT environments that have engaged an Agile culture.
The reasons why they adopt SAFe is well documented throughout the Internet. However, I would like to look at it from different angles. This is based on working with an organisation’s ongoing adoption of SAFe for the last one and a half years.
In my opinion here are a number of additional benefits of SAFe, that are perhaps not that obvious.
1) Introducing a regular heartbeat to the entire organisation that enables co-ordination and steering beyond development
This includes marketing, sales, account management, accounting and professional services but also Human Resources. Everyone can now align as they have a common synchronisation point to plan, persevere or pivot.
p.s. We wrote about “Maximising Agile Alignment” in a separate post. View that post here.
2) Removing product management bottlenecks and increasing Product Owner autonomy
Good product management is difficult. If product managers are involved in every decision from the smallest defects and change request to the largest epic they will be a bottleneck. It is very important for product owners in individual teams to take responsibility for these smaller items and making sure they contribute to the product. SAFe enables this.
3) Identifying dependencies across teams and domains but also down into common components
Release planning helps to reveal dependencies between teams and domains. Yet large software products also have common components underpinning the architecture. Worse, un-cordinated teams will sometimes have overlappings. Such dependencies, duplications and even gaps will also be identified by enterprises using SAFe.
4) It is Good to talk across teams and domains
Getting people to talk within teams is hard enough, let alone across teams and across domains. SAFe will encourage this when the people come together for preparing and executing the Release Planning workshop.
5) Increasing the transparent time horizon beyond two weeks
Basic scrum has a time horizon of typically two weeks. More mature teams will be running refinements looking at what is coming after the current Sprint. Scrum teams often struggle with such a short time horizon. So Release Planning for the next three months orientates the teams so that they know how their work relates to the product’s roadmap and vision. It gives the team a greater degree of stability. But not only that, the entire enterprise will be able to see the direction the product is taking due to the greater levels of transparency. For more on transparency, click here.
6) Reduces Interruption and unforeseen changes in direction
He who shouts loudest, typically gets. Not in SAFe. As all the departments are now synchronised to the three month release cycle and there is one view of demand, no salesman or account manager is allowed to make a commitment for work, to be delivered without understanding the impact on the committed release plan. This means that anything sold has to go through product management.
Are you considering SAFe?
Want to know more about our experiences? If so, then contact us. We’ll be more than happy to hear from you.