New Essential SAFe guidance article

New Essential SAFe guidance article

Essential SAFe SAFe Updates

Earlier this year we spiked a concept called Essential SAFe, a set of minimal practices without which SAFe might no longer be ‘safe’. Essential SAFe serves as an assessment point, but it can also act as an easy entry point for organizations that aren’t ready for full-on SAFe, but want to start practicing and getting the benefits as soon as possible.

Over the last several months we’ve been busy gathering feedback on the idea, including hosting a dedicated workshop at the recent SAFe Summit. With strong encouragement from the community, Essential SAFe is now on track to find a more prominent and permanent position in a future release of the Framework, as well as integration into SAFe courseware and training where applicable.

Since its last iteration, the picture itself has matured and we have updated the definitions of some of the essential elements to highlight the critical nature of PI Planning, the System Demo, and the Inspect and Adapt event, to name a few.

Though it’s not yet fully supported in the SAFe ecosystem—and in the spirit of incremental development—we’re providing you with the latest set of resources, and are moving from this blog thread to a new Essential SAFe guidance article. Here’s what you’ll find there:

  1. A draft version of an Essential SAFe white paper
  2. A self-assessment of how an ART practices the essential elements of SAFe
  3. A downloadable version of the Essential SAFe picture in PowerPoint format
  4. A double-sided placement, with one side being the Essential SAFe picture and the other side the ten elements of Essential SAFe

This is still a work in progress, but with all the feedback we’ve received, we suspect this is close to the final version. We invite you to review these resources and provide any comments (right here) regarding Essential SAFe, the white paper, the self-assessment, the placemat, or any other resources you would like us to provide.

Thanks for your many comments so far,

Inbar and the Framework team

Author Info

Inbar Oren

comment (10)

  1. Veera Chinnam

    12 Apr 2018 - 11:54 pm

    “Essential SAFe guidance article” Link is broken right now, appreciate if this can be fixed soon. Thanks.

    • Richard Knaster

      13 Apr 2018 - 12:22 pm

      Hi Veera:

      The link from the blog post to the Essential SAFe article has been fixed. You can also get to the Essential SAFe article from the home page by clicking on the Advanced Topics drop-down, or by clicking on the top menu (Resources Menu > Advanced Topics).

      Thank you for letting us know about this problem.


  2. Stefan Küffer

    09 Dec 2016 - 6:31 am

    Thank you all at SAI to put together the essential SAFe elements in an easy to read whitepaper. Especially, I do like the last paragraph in each essential chapter that points out what happens if you do not apply these essential elements.

    However, for the Essential SAFe big picture I suggest to show some additional elements that can be linked to the respective SAFe content as soon as you use the Essential SAFe picture with image maps:

    Essential SAFe Team Level:
    – Goals: Iteration goals are mandatory in Scrum and SAFe (Scrum calls them the “sprint goals”) as described in your SAFe Iteration Goals abstract.

    Essential SAFe Program Level:
    The following topics are addressed within the essential element description on page 10 and as such should be shown in the picture on program level:
    – Release any Time
    – Develop on Cadence

    Program Spanning Palette:
    – Metrics are essential and used in I&A quantitative measurement as stated on page 14. As such, the program spanning palette should include metrics.

    Even in an essential setup the program spanning palette should include additional relevant SAFe elements. To only focus on the Vision and DevOps is not enough. Often Essential SAFe is applied in companies that start their first ART but do have to coordinate with internal teams or external suppliers that do not apply agile. Those coordination practices for lean product development are supported by the following SAFe elements in the spanning palette:
    – Releases
    – Roadmap
    – Milestones

    The above elements are not belonging to the Essential SAFe core but are an integrated and supporting fundament to make scaled agile adoption a success in a hybrid environment. Essential SAFe is quite often applied together with other methodologies when a company launches scaled agility the first time. As such, the whitepaper can also be extended with one chapter explaining those additional SAFe elements that increase the adoption success when starting the scaled agile journey.

    • Inbar Oren

      19 Dec 2016 - 10:29 am

      Stefan hi,

      Thank you for your comment. We’ve tried to keep essential SAFe minimal and so had to leave out some of the elements that are important but not essential. Some do exist within the context of other elements but we have chosen not to include them on the picture to make it cleaner and simpler. Adding a chapter that would explain how to extend beyond essential SAFe is a good idea and we might include that in a future version of the white paper.


  3. Bret Mogilefsky

    06 Dec 2016 - 1:24 pm

    I’m very pleased to see this. SAFe has always communicated the “Big Picture” on the assumption that a large enterprise was the target recipient, rather than a small group that’s steadily growing. The subset described here matches well to what I’ve found can easily be introduced to bootstrap the Program-level practices, and lay groundwork/build appetite for the portfolio tier.

    • Inbar Oren

      06 Dec 2016 - 2:00 pm

      Thanks a lot Bret.
      We’re happy this aligns with what you’ve seen in the field.

  4. Andrea Della Corte

    05 Dec 2016 - 3:34 am


    Thanks for putting this together.

    Please notice, the whitepaper download link does not work.


    • Richard Knaster

      05 Dec 2016 - 7:48 am

      Hi Andrea:

      Our webmaster will be fixing this very shortly.
      Thanks for reporting this.


  5. Em Campbell-Pretty

    04 Dec 2016 - 6:57 pm

    Hey Inbar
    The self-assessment link doesn’t work!

    • Richard Knaster

      05 Dec 2016 - 7:48 am

      Hi Em:

      Our webmaster will be fixing this very shortly.
      Thanks for reporting this.


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