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SAFe is an online, freely revealed knowledge base of proven, integrated success patterns for implementing Lean-Agile development at enterprise scale.

— SAFe authors

What’s New in SAFe 4.0 Abstract

SAFe version 4.0 is a major milestone for the framework. It incorporates learning from all prior releases—including the SAFe for Lean Systems Engineering Prototype and Preview branch—into a single, more scalable and more modular framework. It supports both software and systems development, from the modest scale of well under 100 practitioners to Solutions that require thousands of people to create and maintain. To better reflect the breadth of new content, we’ve even renamed it: SAFe 4.0 for Lean Software and Systems Engineering. Here’s a brief overview of SAFe 4.0:

Foundation – Guidance for Lean-Agile Leaders, Communities of Practice, Core Values, Lean-Agile Mindset, SAFe Principles, and Implementation.

Portfolio – Guidance for strategy formulation and portfolio communication, organizing and funding Value Streams, managing the flow of larger initiatives, and governance and cross-value stream coordination.

Value Stream – Guidance for those building the world’s largest software and systems: The Value Stream-level includes Solution Intent, Solution Management, Engineering and Architecture, Agile Customer and Supplier relationships, and Value Stream Coordination.

Program – Description of Agile Release Trains, teams of Agile Teams that build solution Capabilities and subsystems. ARTs align teams to a common mission, provide architectural and User Experience governance, facilitate flow, and provide objective evidence of progress and fitness for purpose.

Team –  SAFe teams are self-organizing, self-managing, and cross-functional. SAFe teams apply Scrum, XP, and Kanban, or a hybrid of their choosing. They deliver valuable, tested, and working software and systems every two weeks.

In addition, SAFe includes extensive guidance articles, case studies, links to service providers, free posters and presentations, a glossary of key terms, and more.

Details

SAFe 4.0 incorporates learning from all prior releases—including the SAFe for Lean System Engineering development and preview branches—into a single, more scalable and more modular framework. SAFe now supports both software and systems development. To address the broader set of concerns, it even has a new name: SAFe 4.0 for Lean Software and Systems Engineering. Below is a summary of the major content changes to SAFe:

  • SAFe now supports both software and systems development
  • There is a new Value Stream Level, including new roles, activities, and artifacts for those building the largest systems
  • The Big Picture is simpler and lighter weight, yet it expands to handle the needs of large value streams and complex system development
  • Enterprise Kanban systems manage the flow of work across all levels
  • The updated SAFe Requirements Model reflects additional backlog items
  • Updated Built-in Quality practices (formerly called “Code Quality”) address both software and systems development
  • A new Foundation Layer is provided

In addition, all articles have been refactored, rewritten, and updated. Other innovations in 4.0 include the following:

  • The improved top menu bar provides quick and easy access to information on Scaled Agile training, implementation, community, resources, and more.
  • The new “spanning palette” carries roles and artifacts applicable to multiple levels.
  • The Big Picture has the ability to expand or collapse to three or four levels as shown in Figure 1 below. The default view is the new, and simpler, three-level version (3-Level SAFe). 3-Level SAFe is largely backwards compatible with SAFe 3.0. With one click, it expands to four levels (4-Level SAFe) to handle the most demanding needs of large value streams and complex systems development.
Figure 1. 3-Level vs. 4-Level SAFe

 

Foundation

SAFe stands on the foundations of its Core Values, Lean-Agile Mindset, Lean-Agile Principles, and Lean-Agile Leadership, as well as proven Implementation patterns. These Foundational principles and values must be understood, exhibited, and upheld by all in order to get the desired results. Along with Communities of Practice, they are now accessible from the new Foundations background, as Figure 2 illustrates.

Figure 1. Foundations Layer
Figure 2. Foundations layer

Portfolio

The enhanced Portfolio Level, illustrated in Figure 3 below, provides improved guidance for enterprise-to-portfolio strategy formulation and portfolio communication, organizing and funding value streams, managing the flow of larger initiatives, and other governance.

Figure 2. Portfolio-Level
Figure 3. Portfolio level

Portfolio level changes include:

Value Stream

For those building the world’s largest software and systems, SAFe has a new value stream level, shown in Figure 4, that includes guidance for Solution Intent, Solution Management, Engineering and ArchitectureCustomer and Supplier relationships, and Value Stream Coordination.

Figure 3. Value Stream-Level
Figure 4. Value stream level

Key value stream level changes include:

Program

The enhanced Program Level describes Agile Release Trains, teams of Agile Teams that build solution capabilities and subsystems. ARTs align teams to a common mission, provide architectural and User Experience governance, facilitate flow, and provide objective evidence of progress and fitness for purpose. A program level ART is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 4. Program-Level
Figure 5. Program level

Program level changes include:

  • The spanning palette for roles and artifacts provides additional framework flexibility (see Spanning Palette in the Program-Level article)
  • Customer and Solution are added to the value stream (3-Level SAFe)
  • Flow of work is managed through the Program Kanban system
  • The System Architect role includes engineering for systems development
  • New Milestones provide an objective way to plan, manage, and measure progress
  • Ability to customize the program level with value stream level constructs (e.g., Economic Framework, Suppliers and other value stream objects can be applied to the program, etc.)
  • Terminology changes: Release Any Time (was Release on Demand), PI Planning (was Release Planning), PI System Demo (was PI Demo), Enabler Features (was Architectural Features)

Team

SAFe teams are self-organizing, self-managing, and cross-functional. With Version 4.0, SAFe teams have a choice of methods. They can apply Scrum, along with XP practices, and/or Kanban. They deliver valuable, tested, and working software and systems every two weeks. This is illustrated in Figure 6.

Figure 5. Team-Level
Figure 6. Team level

Team level changes include:

  • Teams can use either Scrum or Kanban to manage their work
  • Built-in Quality technical practices apply to any method chosen
  • Agile Teams include software (SW), firmware (FW), hardware (HW), and others
  • The Scrum Master and Product Owner participate in Scrum of Scrums, PO Sync, or combined ART Sync
  • Agile Architecture has moved to the value stream level
  • Terminology changes: Agile Teams (was Developers/Testers), Enabler Stories (was Architectural Stories), Built-in Quality (was Code Quality), Iterations (was sometimes Sprints)

Last Update: 30 November 2015