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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.






Tool nameJira
Value PropositionJira Software is an agile project management tool that supports any agile methodology including  scrum and kanban. Jira provides agile boards to plan, track, and manage  and report all  agile software development projects from a single tool. 

Do you use this tool in organisation?  We want to hear from you!  Please rate how much this tool is leveraged to support the processes in your organisation. You do not need to identify the organisation.  

Please remember. It is not about the “potential capability” of the tool. You have to rate the actual usage within your organisation

Rating Guidelines:

  • 1 or 2: only a subset of processes are supported by the tool
  • 3:  The tool supports our needs. But we start observing some limitations.
  • 4: The tool supports our current and future needs.
  • 5: The tool supports our current and future needs. Integrates well with the eco-systems of other tools.


Agile is an iterative project management methodology. Agile approach is based on frequent releases of working product and incorporating customer feedback throughout the development. Agile goes hand-in-hand with DevOps.

Context diagram

Agile development is considered as part of ITIL 4 and “Build Acquire and Implement” domain of COBIT. It is possible to introduce Agile for some specific type of projects. For example, an organisation may have traditional waterfall approach (like PMBOK or Prince2) for legacy applications development and Agile for digital development projects.

Summary ratings:

Please refer the Rating Criteria.

Longevity5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Industry Adoption5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Tool Support5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Training Support5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Assessment Support0 out of 5 stars (0 / 5)

Agile manifesto: 

The organisations implementing Agile need to understand core principles or “manifesto” 1.

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools 
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation 
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 
  • Responding to change over following a plan 

Agile implementation: 

There are different interpretations and approaches to implement Agile. One of popular implementation of Agile is through SCRUM methodology. 

Agile project meetings are known as “rituals” are “ceremonies”. The common rituals are:

  • Sprint planning: A team planning meeting in which the tasks to be completed in the coming sprint will be determined
  • Stand-up: The team and customer get together on a daily basis or weekly basis (or anything in between) typically for 15 minutes status update. The stand-up meetings replace the formal Project Meetings.
  • Sprint demo: The team will demonstrate the working product that is shipped in the iteration.
  • Sprint retrospective: A reflection on what went right and wrong in the previous sprint.


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