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In Development Last updated: September 18, 2023
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For large-scale projects in the software development industry, SAFe or the Scaled Agile Framework is the perfect choice for the teams.

Collaboration has become key to innovation in the ever-growing engineering industry. The introduction of the Agile method has re-framed how this industry operates to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity.

These days, many enterprises opt for SAFe, a better way to implement Agile methodology effectively. Let’s dive deep to know all the basics of SAFe and how to implement it. 

What Is SAFe Implementation?

The SAFe or the Scaled Agile Framework is a collection of organizational and workflow practices that let you implement Agile methodology on an enterprise setup. The SAFe framework comes with structured guidance on the roles and responsibilities of all team members, along with ways to plan and manage the tasks and uphold the values.

What Is SAFe Implementation

SAFe methodology promotes collaboration, alignment, and delivery across various agile teams.

It is based on three knowledge segments: 

  • Agile software development
  • Lean product development
  • Systems thinking

SAFe offers a structured method for scaling the agile method and keeping pace with the company’s growth. Now, before you proceed to implement SAFe, here are some factors you need to understand:

  • Find out the reason your company needs this methodology. Its implementation can be a lengthy process, and you need to understand its pros and cons before opting for it.
  • All team members, including the executives, managers, and leaders, need adequate training on workflow and practices for SAFe implementation.
  • There might be a need to change some organizational structures while staying aligned with the company values. 
  • Every member of the Agile team has to apply their knowledge and experience of the training to develop strategies.

Benefits of SAFe Implementation

Benefits of SAFe Implementation

Improved Time-to-Market

The biggest advantage of applying SAFe is quicker time-to-market. As you align cross-functional Agile teams around value, they can meet the requirements of the customer at a faster speed. By leveraging the SAFe framework, enterprises can make quicker decisions, streamline operations, and stay focused on the clients.

Productivity Boost

Teams that implement SAFe notice a significant boost in the overall measurable productivity. As the teams can communicate more effectively, they can skip unnecessary work, avoid delays, and continuously improve on what they design and develop. 

Better Quality

Built-in quality of the products is a core value of SAFe. It focuses on the importance of integrating quality, no matter which step of the development life cycle you are at. Thus, SAFe ensures that quality does not become a last-minute focus and instead becomes the responsibility of everyone.

More Employee Engagement

As you implement a better working method, the employees become more engaged with their work while being happy at the same time. With the SAFe framework, companies can allow workers to achieve autonomy, expertise, and purpose. Moreover, companies that implement SAFe are equipped with tools to make the employees satisfied and minimize burnout.

Levels of SAFe

Levels of SAFe

Team Level

At this level, standard agile team structure continues that applies scrum processes. Here, the major players are the scrum master, the product owner, and the relevant team for the project. The team has to complete their tasks in small batches, named iterations. After each delivery, the team evaluates the results and reiterates to correct any issues.

Program Level

At this level, all the team members and stakeholders work towards a system development mission. Each party has a valuable part to play and shares the responsibility of completing the project with the flow of value and maximum resource optimization.

Portfolio Level

This SAFe level consists of principles, conventions, and roles necessary to manage the systems and solutions a company needs to achieve its objectives and goals. Hence, the Program Portfolio, Management, Enterprise Architect, and Epic Owners are the parts of this level.

Key Things to Know About SAFe Implementation

SAFe Implementation

Four Configurations of SAFe

  • Essential SAFe: The Thing point of implementation does the critical elements. 
  • Portfolio SAFe: This configuration lines up portfolio execution to the company values.
  • Large Solution SAFe: It is used for large and complex solution development.
  • Full SAFe: This is the most comprehensive version of SAFe that supports managing large integrated solutions.

SAFe Principles

These principles are essential to implement the executive decisions and influence the mindset of the members of the lean-agile team.

  • Economic view
  • Systems thinking
  • Build products with integrated learning cycles
  • Maintain multiple design options
  • Visualize tasks in progress
  • Implement cadence and synchronize 
  • Create milestones on factual evaluation
  • Lessen batch size and control queue lengths
  • Decentralization of decision making
  • The constant motivation of the employees

SAFe Values

SAFe Values

SAFe stands on four core values that guide all the team decisions and ensure successful SAFe implementation.

  • Alignment: The whole organization is on the same page about its destination and working process.
  • Built-In Quality: Every part of the product you develop should be of the highest quality.
  • Transparency: The workflows should be open and transparent for better productivity and troubleshooting.
  • Program Execution: The working application is the most important thing and the indicator of productivity.

Role-based Training

If you are looking for a successful transformation into a SAFe environment, training is the key to it. Companies got to make ensure all the team members get an appropriate environment for people to learn and explore new ideas.

Training should also make them understand the impact of changes in their work environment. Several basic and advanced role-based training courses are available for Agile teams.

Implementation Roadmap

If a company wants to become a Lean-Agile technology enterprise, they need to implement some substantial changes. Following the implementation roadmap, a company can easily sail on its journey to adopt the SAFe methodology.

SAFe Implementation Roadmap

SAFe Implementation Roadmap

To implement SAFe in your organization, you need to execute these steps as part of your roadmap:

Accomplishing the Threshold Point

The objective of the SAFe implementation roadmap is to bring a change in the work culture of a team to work on agile projects. While this could be challenging, organizations should opt for it considering its profitability. The first step to starting SAFe implementation is to reach the threshold when the entire workforce becomes collectively motivated to reach their target.

Cultivate Agents

The next stage of the roadmap is to have a group of employees who will work as strategic change agents. These people play a crucial role in the transformation process and thus motivate others to work aligned with the roadmap. However, they should be well aware of the balance between predictability and business agility besides being equipped to bring the necessary transformation.

Offer Training to Stakeholders

While you need to train the whole workforce, the executives require special attention in this matter. Their training must make them competent enough to manage the deployment procedure and eradicate any bottlenecks. 

Also, every trainee should develop a Lean-Agile perspective to be an appropriate part of the workplace transformation while being innovative and flexible during the project. 

Identify USP or Value

At this point, the executive team should concentrate on functional business processes and their support structures. The focus is also on the deployment with an impact on the operation. Those working on market strategy delivery should clearly understand ART — Agile-Release Training. Thus, they can create a primary management system that will gradually with the needs of the users.

Build a Masterplan for Lean-Agile Management

Lean-Agile Management

Create a team with an obligation to implement the SAFe Lean-Agile methodology. This team will supervise the transformation of values and attitudes into a Lean-Agile culture while facilitating the entire process.

Implementation Plan

Implementation of these actions should be done at this step. To do so, begin with the identification of the first process flow and first ART. Apart from this, it is time to create a comprehensive strategy for giving the implementation a feasible shape. Companies should also gather new skills and data at this stage.

Prepare ART Launch

The execution of ART should be done according to a strict routine. Categorize the teammates as people with and without training. Existing backlog identification should also be done at this stage. After sufficient preparation, organizations should assign and organize individuals into SAFe projects to improve the process.

Train Teams and Launch ART

When the preparation for launching is complete, check the team’s competency that will deliver ART. After training for one week, companies can start the initial PI strategy.

Coach ART Execution

This stage is fully-focused on the action, and Agile teams might need assistance from the SAFe consultant to ensure the value delivery to the client. ART executives must focus on the continual development cycle.

Launch More ARTs

At this point, other ARTs should be deployed for specific value streams. The assigned teams need to perform any existing planning for effective transformation. Through SAFe deployment, performance visualization becomes easier as it displays all the ARTs and obstructions.

Extend Portfolio

By this time, the organizations should have integrated SAFe into their workplace. However, there should be an extensive examination of certain organizational standard techniques to achieve a full-fledged agile roadmap.

For this reason, there should be feedback from the teammates that can mitigate any future obstacles and gradual implementation of the methodology across the firm.


Since this is the last step of the roadmap, organizations should verify if all the previous steps have been successfully implemented. Check if the work culture has been transformed or if the teams have equal zeal and excitement they had before starting the process. 

For all these, companies can establish KPIs to keep track of performance. These will be helpful for regular optimization and continuous improvement.

Essential Elements of SAFe 

Essential Elements of SAFe

Companies that want to implement SAFe successfully must have these essential elements:

Real Agile Teams and Training

It is impossible to implement the SAFe methodology unless you have cross-functional Agile teams working in iterations. They should be self-organizing and able to apply built-in standard practices. Also, they should be adequately trained to manage the new responsibilities.

DevOps and Releasability

DevOps and Releasability

For SAFe implementation, organizations should have the DevOps approach to reduce the gap between the development and operations teams regarding work culture, automation, measurement, lean flow, and recovery. The teams should also adopt a customer-centric approach to releasing products on demand, keeping up with the market. 

Lean Agile Principles

All the people involved in this implementation should be aware of the SAFe lean Agile principles and use them in their projects. These principles include organizing workflow around values, taking an economic perspective, developing products with fast learning cycles, milestones based on objective evaluation, and decentralizing decision making. 

PI Planning

PI Planning

It refers to planning events when everyone working on ART gathers to plan the next program increment (PI). A PI lasts for 8-12 weeks and is scheduled in advance. The teams decide upon the tasks they can deliver during PI and determine the objective beforehand so that all groups know what they are supposed to do.

IP Iteration

The IP (innovation and planning) iteration is the final sprint of a program cycle. It has an important role to play in innovation and PI completion. It gives the product managers a chance to complete PI tasks and plan for the next ones while setting the priorities. 

Cadence and Synchronization

Cadence means the occurrence of events in a steady and predictable rhythm so that companies can plan PI planning and system demos. On the other hand, synchronization means simultaneously taking the place of multiple events across a whole ART in the program increment (PI). Both are essential parts of the SAFe framework.

System Demo

A working software application is the only way to measure team progress in an Agile environment. Companies need to review progress as the product development cycle progresses. For that, they should integrate the tasks of all teams and check the software demonstration after every iteration.

Summing Up

It might be time to implement the SAFe methodology if you have a growing Agile team. Now that you know the basics of Scaled Agile Framework, you can seamlessly incorporate that into your organization. 

This article also includes a detailed roadmap using which the implementation process will become easier if you are interested in learning about other Agile frameworks.

  • Bipasha Nath
    I am a technical and creative content writer with 10+ years of experience in the relevant industry. My degrees in English and Sociology, coupled with working experience in software development companies, help me understand how technology… read more
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