Implementing SAFe with software can be easy

Enterprise success depends on the ability to rapidly design and deliver quality products and services. Digital transformation has made its way through every industry. Agile practices apply to businesses of all sizes, including those that have not traditionally been considered software or IT. Organizations that confine Agile and Lean frameworks to specific departments/teams or assume that Agile is for software startups, do so at their own peril. The ability to effectively scale Agile will be the difference between organizations that thrive and those that are left behind.

What is SAFe; the challenge / problem

The Scaled agile framework (SAFe) is a set of organization and workflow patterns to guide enterprises in scaling Lean and Agile. Now on version 5.1, SAFe was first released over a decade ago and has become the most common approach to scaling Agile practices. The idea of scaling Agile from small teams to large, multinational organizations can seem overwhelming. The SAFe framework has a lot of moving parts and can be confusing even for those familiar with Agile methodologies. Added to this is the open secret that Agile transformations have often failed in Fortune 500 companies. This is why it’s crucial to choose the right software tools. Here, we’ll cover 2 such tools -- Jira Align and Agile Hive -- and how they can ease your organization’s transition to SAFe.

Jira Align

In larger organizations it’s common for development teams to be using Jira, while program and, for the largest development organisations, solution managers are using a mix of disconnected tools. This inevitably creates issues with goal alignment, communication, and data aggregation. Jira Align addresses this gap by creating a seamless flow of information across all stakeholder groups. It aggregates work across team-level tools, providing greater visibility, collaboration, and measurement. Crucially, teams continue to do their work in Jira, the tool they are comfortable with. The visibility and data flow is bidirectional. Teams can see how their work is part of roadmaps and strategy. Managers can access analyses in near real-time knowing that enterprise data has a single source of truth.

A common challenge of SAFe implementation is information overload, with many teams and stakeholders at multiple layers of scale (team, program, solution, portfolio, and enterprise). Jira Align’s custom configuration allows each user to specify the data they are interested in. Customization is also possible at the organizational level through editable terminology and scaling frameworks. Interactive, pictorial representations give users a high-level overview of their organization’s process, with an ability to drill down to any particular area of that process and the Jira Align functionality.

Transition to Hive. Focus on who (type of org) each is for

Jira Align is the SAFe tool best suited for larger Enterprise customers with a strong focus on strategy and management perspectives and a high level of complexity, such as over thousands of employees, portfolio management expertise, and maybe even multiple Jira instances or a different team tool involved. It is a stand alone, cloud-focused application. For medium to large organizations with one Jira instance, Agile Hive might be a more suitable option.

Agile Hive -- features/what it does; What distinguishes it from Align

Agile Hive is a straightforward Jira App leveraging the existing Jira UI. Like Jira Align, Hive creates hierarchical links to align team and program levels and allows users to drill down to any of the SAFe levels. It also delivers comprehensive SAFe reports out of the box to get real time updates on team performance and tasks. Dependencies between teams, but also as possible blockers for feature deliveries are visibly managed on exclusive SAFe boards. Another convenient feature is automatic SAFe documentation through Confluence. This simplifies reporting requirements that otherwise can be an administrative roadblock to Agile scalability.

Agile Hive brings the obvious advantage of employees not having to learn a new tool. Based on Jira technology such as fields, workflows and links, Agile Hive leverages the tool's renowned functionality e.g. through JQL and other Marketplace Apps. Whereas Jira Align offers the flexibility and complexity that Enterprise organizations might need, Agile Hive offers relative ease of implementation without a steep learning curve. Moreover, Agile Hive comes with cost advantages and multiple deployment options.


Regardless of where your company is on its digital transformation journey, the key to scaling Agile is choosing the right software tool for the job. The cultural and organizational shift to Agile is already a challenge -- software should simplify the transition and reduce growing pains, not add more complexity and risk.Jira Align vs Agile Hive Feature Comparison Table

The best journeys are taken together. Let us accompany you on your SAFe journey, every step of the way.

We know that a SAFe implementation can seem daunting, but with the right tools and the right partner it doesn't have to be. Whether you're about to take your first steps or ready to scale up, we will be there to help you evaluate and guide you through the process. With KEGON - Germany's leading SAFe partner & SAFe first mover in Europe - we will use our expertise in Agile Hive, Jira, and Jira Align to help you find the right methods and tools to fit your needs wherever you are on your SAFe journey.

Get in touch with us today so we can help get you started the best way possible for your organization.

Further Reading


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