An Essential Update on Essential SAFe
Earlier this year, we published our first draft of the Essential SAFe® Big Picture via blog post. Since then, we have received lots of comments, from the blog, our classroom settings, direct customer and analyst feedback, and more. It’s compellingly obvious that this simpler, essential view is a clear aid to understanding the minimum roles and practices that are necessary to be successful with a SAFe implementation.
Simple is good. Feedback is good, too. To that end, we have now incorporated the input and present an updated version of the Essential SAFe® Big Picture:
Here are the nine key elements of Essential SAFe; without which, an implementation of the framework really isn’t “safe”:
- SAFe Lean-Agile Principles. Lean-Agile principles provide the basis for every successful transformation and guide decision making as the process evolves and adapts.
- Lean-Agile Leaders. Successful transformations are based on educating management to become “lean-thinking manager-teachers”. Thereafter, they lead, rather than follow, the transformation.
- Agile Teams, Agile Release Trains, Value Streams. The Agile Release Train is a key building block of a SAFe enterprise. Trains are organized around Value Streams, and consist of Agile Teams. Teams use Scrum, Kanban and Built-in Quality practices to frequently produce integrated increments of value. DevOps practices close the loop on customer value delivery.
- Cadence. A standardized PI and iteration cadence is the heartbeat of every ART and Value Stream. Periodic synchronization of all aspects limits variance to a single time interval.
- Key Program Events. PI Planning, System Demo, and Inspect and Adapt assure that teams plan together, implement and demo together, and routinely improve their processes.
- IP Iteration. The Innovation and Planning iteration is like extra oxygen in the tank: without it the train may start gasping under the pressure of the tyranny of the urgent, a plan that forgives no mistakes, nor provides dedicated time for innovation.
- Critical Roles. Product Management, RTE, and System Arch/Eng— provide content and technical authority, and an effective development process. Product Owners and Scrum Masters help the teams meet their objectives. The Customer is part of the Value Stream, and is integrally engaged throughout development.
- Vision and Backlog. Vision, backlogs and economic prioritization deliver business results by assuring that the teams are building the right thing.
- Architectural Runway. Architectural runway provides “just enough” technical enablement to keep program velocities high, and avoid excessive redesign.
Of course, we are still open for feedback, so feel free to comment away. In addition, I think this is where we are headed next:
- Create a guidance article for Essential SAFe, so it can become a permanent part of the knowledge base
- Over time we will make the picture in the article clickable, allowing the viewer to navigate to a specific article from there
- Provide an Essential SAFe® poster PDF for download
- Incorporate this simpler thinking into some future version of SAFe (yes, @Chris, we really did say that …)
Also, Inbar is presenting Essential SAFe® at Agile Israel this week. We will share his presentation materials at some point soon. I’ll also be scheduling a webinar on the topic, probably in August. There I will discuss—not only what is essential in SAFe®—but also how other SAFe® constructs can be adapted to best fit your enterprise context. The link will be available soon, so stay tuned for that.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Without your input, there’s no “C” (and therefore, no “A”) in our PDCA cycle. Thank you and be safe, essentially speaking…
-Alex, and the Framework team: Dean, Inbar, Richard