HomeAgileScaled Agile Framework And Its Core Values

Scaled Agile Framework And Its Core Values

Scaled Agile Framework Introduction

For over a decade since the publication of the agile development methodology manifesto. It has been a huge success. Quite a lot of software development teams have had tremendous success in implementing this, by so doing, changing the approach that teams take to software development.

Sadly, a lot of organizations struggled to adopt agile methodologies due to several reasons but most importantly – scale. The scalability issues, they stumble upon while implementing other agile frameworks has led to an introduction of SAFe as a better approach for large organizations to successfully adopt agile.

SAFe is a hot point of discussion in large organizations. About 70% of Fortune 100 companies and more than 200 enterprises have SAFe specialists.

SAFe provides a top-level of flexibility as well as scalability. In a survey carried out by Organize Agile, 78% of companies have been focusing on the adoption of agile methodologies through SAFe for the past year.

Waterfall models are often too restrictive and nowadays do not always meet the output or change expectations of a large organization and its teams. Additionally, the disruption and intense competition brought about by startups have led large organizations to evolve and promote a culture that encourages innovation, teamwork, and agility.

Agile methodologies have been widely used in many organizations in many organizations around the world. A lot of these organizations adopted different variations of agile development approaches such as Extreme Programming, SCRUM, and Lean software development.

However, not every organization was able to successfully implement other agile frameworks with the desired scale. This was particularly true for large organizations which further prompted the adoption of SAFe.

Scaled Agile Framework levels

To implement SAFe, there are two approaches that an organization can take:

  1. The three-level approach: This comprises the team level, the portfolio level, and the program level.
  2. The four-level approach: This comprises the team level, the portfolio level, the value stream level, and the program level.

A four-level approach is preferred for large companies with a lot of organizations while the three-level is used for smaller teams.

Scaled Agile Framework Four Leve Approach

A four-level approach is preferred for large companies with a lot of organizations while the three-level is used for smaller teams.

Four Level Approach of Scaled Agile Framework
Scaled-Agile Framework Levels (Source-Scaled Agile, Inc.)

Team Level:

At this level, teams are self-managing and self-organizing as they build, define and test stories (new features and requirements) and deliver a working demo with value during sprints every few weeks.

Teams can continue to be synchronized and allowed to work simultaneously through iterations.

Program Level:

At this level, various autonomous teams – Agile Release Trains (ARTs) – work to consistently provide an aligned goal and evident progress through planning, implementations, adjustments and inspections.

ARTs enables the team to adapt to tasks, provide guidance on architecture and user experience, facilitate process development and deliver continuous and objective proof of progress.

Value Stream Level:

This level is considered optional and used for multiple ART teams. In terms of the value stream, SAFe helps coordinate large and complex product groups and supports the production of integrated solutions.

Portfolio Level:

SAFe’s portfolio level includes strategy and solutions development through a value stream or a set of value streams.

At this level, the team handles the backlog of business epics and studies the systems needed to achieve business goals. This level provides a solution through lean-agile budgeting management and coordination of large scale development plans.

Core values of Scaled Agile Framework

Scaled Agile Framework Core Values
SAFe- the Big Picture with the four core values (Source-The IIL Blog

SAFe has four core values that it adheres to and implements which are alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and project execution.


As the word implies, it is important for the organization to be aligned in its goals and strategies.

This is especially important to keep up with changes, remote teams as well as disruptive competition. With alignment, responsibilities for alignment, and decision making, the strategy cannot rest on the opinions of the team irrespective of their capabilities.

Instead, this alignment must rely on the business objectives of the entire organization. Alignment is performed by safe through the following:

  • This value is supported by obvious lines of content management authority. This starts from the portfolio level and then moves through the production and solution management team and product owner roles.
  • This process entirely rests on the product owner. Iteration goals and PI algorithm are used to communicate the expected goals and commitments.
  • Encourages the use of user experience and governance to aid scalability and robustness.

Built-In Quality:

The importance of quality has to be emphasized at every part of a development. Alignment alone will not provide this, therefore, it is imperative that quality is built in from the start and through the whole development life cycle.

Quality, as it is, cannot be added later. Without these core principles especially for large organizations, work will probably go unchecked or unverified and this will likely lead to extra work later on to fix issues.

Built-In quality is centered on five major topics which are;

  • Flow: Test-driven development, continuous delivery, unit testing, and pair programming.
  • Architecture and design quality.
  • Code Quality.
  • System Quality.
  • Release Quality.


A team or organization adopting SAFe has to ensure transparency and openness in communication. Trust and integrity are a must. The following practices are used to implement this principle:

  • Portfolio Kanban is visible to the executives and other stakeholders.
  • Stand-up meetings are held where teams check the program openly and commit to delivering its goals.
  • Backlog improvement through inspection and adaptation to the right methodologies during continuous process development.

Program Execution:

All core values and principles cannot be implemented if the team cannot execute correctly and implement and deliver value consistently.

This ensures that high quality software is delivered with value. To ensure this, the initial core values are reinforced continuously and consistently.

SAFe Conclusions

Scaled Agile Framework can be a very useful but sometimes confusing framework. Extending the core value of an agile framework helps improve its agile methods at scale and enables the team to achieve common goals. However, switching to SAFe can be difficult.

A powerful leader is needed to ensure that the core values are effective. Although there is no hierarchy in agile, the powerful leader does not mean a commander so therefore the powerful leader may be the product manager or leadership teams in the organization.

Empowering everyone will unite the team. A united team will not think twice about the quality inspection and share their views publicly with the team. This process will make the execution of the program possible. Therefore, among the other foundations of the SAFe framework, these core values ​​are the most important values.



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