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Scaled Agile Framework-SAFe

SAFe® (Copyright © Scaled Agile, Inc) is a body of knowledge of principles, practices and competencies for Lean, Agile and DevOps.  The framework is built on the foundations of Agile and provides a structured approach for scaling up the practices across the enterprise. 

Context diagram

SAFe spans across all life cycle stages of ITIL and corresponding COBIT domains.  As SAFe principles and practices are leverage from Lean, Agile, Enterprise Architecture, DevOps practices, the emphasis is on Agility. The waterfall and control practices of ITIL, COBIT are not emphasised.  SAFe defines five competencies and four configurations. The configurations provide a clear blueprint for scalability which was lacking in other Agile frameworks.

Summary ratings:

Please refer the Rating Criteria.

SAFe is released on 2011 and has gone periodic revisions. The industry adoption among large enterprises, especially in the USA is cited. As the scope of SAFe is quite broad, there are no dedicated tools to support. However, the tools that support Agile can be leveraged. It will be good to get an integrated tool that supports the full spectrum of SAFe practices including Lean Budgets, Value Streams, Enterprise Architecture, Release Train Management etc. 

SAFe provides very good training support including certification. Accredited trainers are available in many countries.

SAFe is not intended for a formal assessment.

Longevity4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Industry Adoption3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)
Tool Support2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)
Training Support5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Assessment Support0 out of 5 stars (0 / 5)

Competencies and Configurations

SAFe is organised based on competencies and “configurations”.  There are five competencies. 

Lean-Agile Leadership 

The Lean-Agile Leadership competency describes how Lean-Agile Leaders drive and sustain organizational change and operational excellence by empowering individuals and teams to reach their highest potential. They do this by learning, exhibiting, teaching, and coaching SAFe’s Lean-Agile mindset, values, principles, and practices. 

Team and Technical Agility 

The Team and Technical Agility competency describes the critical skills and Lean-Agile principles and practices that are needed to create high-performing Agile teams who create high-quality, well designed technical solutions. 

Team agility is the first half of this competency. Agile teams operate as a collaboration between the Business Owners, developers, and testers to create alignment, common understanding, and quick, predictable delivery of value. These teams have the authority and accountability to manage their own work, increasing productivity, and reducing overall speed-to-market. Agile teams commit to small batches of work, reducing feedback cycles, and adjusting to changing needs. 

Technical agility, the second half of this competency, defines the Agile Software Engineering principles and practices teams use to deliver solutions quickly and reliably. Agile Software Engineering adds Lean-Agile values and principles and eXtreme Programming (XP) practices, agile modeling, proven approaches for software design, and more. 

DevOps and Release-on-Demand 

The DevOps and Release on Demand competency describes how implementing DevOps and a continuous delivery pipeline provides the enterprise with the capability to release value, in whole or in part, at any time necessary to meet market and customer demand. 

Business Solutions and Lean Systems 

The Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering competency describes how to apply Lean-Agile principles and practices to the specification, development, deployment, and evolution of large, complex software applications and cyber-physical systems. 

Lean Portfolio Management 

The Lean Portfolio Management competency describes how an enterprise implements Lean approaches to strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance. 

Configurations are determined depending of the scope of the implementation.  

There are four configurations: 

Essential SAFe:  

The Essential SAFe configuration is the basic building block for all SAFe configurations and is the simplest starting point for implementation. It provides the Lean-Agile Leadership competency, the Team and Technical Agility competency, and the DevOps and Release on Demand competency. 

Large Solution SAFe: 

The Large Solution SAFe configuration introduces the Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering competency, which supports those building the largest and most complex solutions that require multiple Agile Release Trains and Suppliers, but do not require portfolio-level considerations. 

Portfolio SAFe: 

The Portfolio SAFe configuration provides the Lean Portfolio Management competency which aligns portfolio execution to enterprise strategy. It organizes development around the flow of value through one or more value streams. 

Portfolio SAFe provides business agility through principles and practices for portfolio strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance. 

Full SAFe 

The Full SAFe configuration includes all Five Core Competencies of the Lean Enterprise. It is the most comprehensive version of the Framework and supports enterprises that build and maintain a portfolio of large and complex solutions.


SAFe requires multiple skills including Governance, Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Systems Development and Management, Software Design,

SFIA skills includes both predictive project management (water-fall approach) and adaptive approaches like Agile.



Enterprise Architecture


Portfolio Management


Project Management


Systems Development and Management


Software Design


Programme Management


Project Management



SAFe provides a wide range of training courses.



SAFe essential can be implemented with existing Agile tool sets.





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