Is my company large enough for SAFe®?

Scaled Agile Framework, or SAFe®, is riding high on managers' bucket lists. Has the time for SAFe® come for your organization, too?

German project managers are falling in love with SAFe® more than those in any other nation. We realized this during the Tools4AgileTeams conference, organized by //Seibert/Media in Wiesbaden this fall. As managers from German corporations made up the majority at the event, let's ask the question: Is SAFe® suitable for the mythical German 'family' companies, or Mittelstand, that make up the core of the German economy?

Is a small or medium business big enough for SAFe? © Katemangostar -

The short answer

Your organization needs at least 50 people to benefit from SAFe®.

And this is why: Programs are the essence of Scaled Agile Framework. Five to twelve agile teams work on a program. A team consists of 10 individuals. Simple math results in an extended team of 50 to 120 people busy working on a single program. This is Scaled Agile Inc.'s - the author of SAFe® - point of view.

But there are exceptions and other aspects to consider ...

You deliver to enterprise scale

You could be a small business of 30 people, but you deliver software, publications or tailor-made electronics to enterprise scale organizations. You'd better get familiar with SAFe®.

This is our situation. We are a software developer of 30+ individuals, divided into roughly 5 teams. We've implemented the Scaled Agile Framework to better understand it and to be able to integrate SAFe® rules into our flagship BigPicture app. We discuss our situation here.

You're growing rapidly

Even if you're a start-up in an emerging sector, e.g. autonomous cars, or in an emerging market, it may be wise to get comfortable with SAFe®. Test yourself: is my company likely to grow to employ more than 100 people within the next 5 years?

You're in a risky sector or deliver an advanced product

A coal mine might not benefit from SAFe®. While it may employ thousands of miners, the product is not highly-processed, and many consider the sector is in decline.

At the other end of the scale are the new technologies: New payment systems, renewable energy, and gene therapy developers may benefit from SAFe®.

Important SAFe® terms

Program Increment (PI) planning is a crucial term in Scaled Agile Framework. Bet on the wrong thing and you can lose the farm. It costs a ton of money up front to design a new product or technology, and if nobody buys it, you're out of luck, and probably out of business.

SAFe® is the methodology of choice to reduce the risk of market failure. With several agile teams, you need to align them during face-to-face events, in the process of the Agile Release Train.

BigPicture is a great tool to implement SAFe® methodology in your organization.

Tom Kucharski, SoftwarePlant's CEO and SAFe® certified, on the German economy

"Who's migrating to the Scaled Agile Framework in Germany during 2018? Chiefly large organizations who have been using proven classic project management methodologies for years. I believe that the perfectly-tuned processes in post-war Germany have made it the 4th largest economy in the world, based on GDP.

But here is the thing: classic project management is becoming a burden for German corporations in today's rapidly changing world. No wonder I've noticed an explosion of interest in agile project management methods, SAFe® in particular, in Germany in the last two to three years. This is why I predict Germany is looking good to be hugely successful over the coming decades."

Tom Kucharski is a SAFe® advocate and the CEO of SoftwarePlant, a software development startup. He is a PPM enthusiast, entrepreneur and the leader of 2017 Atlassian Marketplace Vendor of the Year. 

Further information

How to migrate from MS Project to agile Jira project management software?
BigPicture - Tempo integration - for those focused on resource management

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Our blog articles reflect the situation at the time of writing and are not updated. It is therefore possible that the contents are outdated and no longer correspond to the latest developments. We do not accept any liability for this.

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