Essential SAFe: Scaling Agile in the Workplace

Are you tired of being stuck in the same old project management rut? 

Are you looking for a way to take your team to the next level? 

If so, it might be time to explore the world of Essential SAFe.

SAFe, or the Scaled Agile Framework, is a methodology for scaling agile practices across an entire organization. Essential SAFe is a lighter-weight version of the full SAFe framework, designed for smaller organizations or teams that don’t need the full suite of features.

So what exactly does Essential SAFe include? Let’s break it down.

Agile Release Trains (ARTs)

At the heart of SAFe is the concept of the Agile Release Train, or ART. An ART is a long-lived team of teams that plans, executes, and delivers value through a series of sprints or iterations.

Each ART has a dedicated Product Owner, who is responsible for prioritizing the team’s backlog and ensuring that the team is working on the most valuable items first. The ART also has a Scrum Master, who facilitates the team’s agile ceremonies and helps the team continuously improve.

Imagine you work for a software development company that is working on a new mobile app. 

You might organize your teams into ARTs, with each ART responsible for a specific feature of the app, such as the login screen, the user profile page, or the messaging functionality. 

Each ART would work on their respective features during a sprint, and then all the features would be integrated at the end of the sprint.

Program Increment (PI) Planning

To ensure that all the ARTs are aligned and working towards the same goals, SAFe includes a regular planning event called Program Increment (PI) Planning. This is typically a two-day event where all the teams come together to plan out the next 8-12 weeks of work.

During PI Planning, the teams work together to break down high-level objectives into smaller, actionable items that can be completed in a single sprint. They also identify dependencies between teams and plan for any risks or impediments that might arise.

Suppose you are employed by an e-commerce firm that is preparing for a major holiday sale. 

In order to guarantee that all teams are on the same page and there are no last-minute surprises during the launch, your PI Planning event may emphasize critical features and functionality such as inventory management, shipping logistics, and the checkout process. 

Bringing all teams together to plan ahead will help to ensure that everyone is working towards the same objective.

Iteration Planning and Execution

Within each ART, the teams work in short iterations, typically two weeks in length. At the beginning of each iteration, the team holds an Iteration Planning event where they plan out the work they will complete during the iteration.

During the iteration, the team holds daily stand-up meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page and to identify any roadblocks or impediments that need to be addressed. At the end of the iteration, the team holds a retrospective to reflect on what went well and what could be improved in the next iteration.

Picture working for a marketing agency that is running a social media campaign for a client. Each iteration might focus on a specific aspect of the campaign, such as creating content, scheduling posts, or analyzing engagement metrics. By working in short iterations, the team can quickly adapt to changes in the campaign and continuously improve their approach.

Continuous Delivery Pipeline

SAFe emphasizes the importance of continuous delivery, or the ability to release working software at any time. To support this, SAFe includes a Continuous Delivery Pipeline that ensures that all changes are tested and validated before they are released.

The Continuous Delivery Pipeline includes four stages: Continuous Exploration, Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, and Release on Demand. Each stage ensures that the software is continuously tested and validated, and that it is ready to be released to users at any time.

Let’s say you work for a financial services company that is developing a new online banking platform. 

Your Continuous Delivery Pipeline might include stages for testing new features, integrating changes with the existing system, deploying updates to a staging environment, and finally releasing changes to the production environment. 

This ensures that any new features or updates are thoroughly tested before they are released to customers.

Lean-Agile Leadership

Last but not least, SAFe emphasizes the importance of Lean-Agile Leadership. This means that leaders at all levels of the organization must embrace agile practices and lead by example. They must provide clear direction, empower their teams, and continuously improve their processes.

If you are working for a healthcare organization that is introducing a new electronic medical record system, the Lean-Agile Leadership team will be responsible for ensuring that all departments are in agreement about the implementation process. 

This includes providing the necessary resources and support, as well as continually enhancing the system based on feedback from users.

Essential SAFe is a key framework for scaling Agile within organizations of all sizes. 

Whether you are working for a large enterprise or a small startup, the core principles of SAFe can be applied to help teams work more efficiently and effectively. 

At Agileseventeen, we are committed to helping organizations succeed with SAFe and we are here to support you on your journey. 

Contact us today at to learn more about our Agile trainings and join our exclusive community of Agile professionals.

Join our community of Agile professionals today

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp