Is SAFe® Something I Should Consider for my Organization?

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More and more organizations are adopting SAFe as a means to improve product offerings and decrease time-to-market. Despite its many advantages, implementing SAFe at the enterprise level is an important and complex process that requires an expert consultant's guidance to ensure a successful transition. A good understanding of SAFe benefits, challenges, and real-world applications will help you decide whether or not it provides an advantage to your organization.

Massive growth in technology has provided all enterprises with an opportunity to thrive in local and international markets. Many software start-ups are recording historic profit figures. Other medium and large-scale organizations have had record-breaking sales and expansion.

However, with this unprecedented growth comes unprecedented problems, including keeping up with today's fast-paced nature of customer satisfaction. Customers don't just want solutions; they want the best solutions and they want them fast. The business that provides the best quality solution in the shortest time has distinct market advantages.

Given customers' demands, the traditional way of running businesses is no longer sustainable. Companies have had to adapt or die; this is where Agile frameworks come in. Over time, many businesses have adopted Agile frameworks. Despite the many benefits of Agile, it isn’t sufficient for massive enterprises with several teams. Agile was originally designed for single teams, so that's to be expected. 

The gap Agile left begs the question 'How do businesses with multiple teams (enterprises) deliver quality products to customers faster while responding to sporadic market changes in record time?’

The answer? SAFe. 

SAFe Basics Briefly

The Scaled Agile Framework, also known as SAFe, marries the best of Agile methodologies to help teams deliver the best quality products to the market faster. SAFe allows organizations to focus on a common goal using a decentralized decision-making model. 

It is important to note that SAFe isn't an improvement or "better version" of Agile; rather, it scales agile methodologies to the enterprise level. The SAFe framework is both extremely detailed and complex. The current SAFe 5.0 offers various configuration levels, including Essential SAFe, Large Solution SAFe, Portfolio SAFe, and Full SAFe.

It aims to help organizations achieve faster time-to-market, improved quality, and increased employee engagement. One of the key benefits of SAFe is that it provides a clear path for organizations to follow. It breaks down the process of scaling agile methods into more manageable objectives, which makes it easier for companies to understand and implement. SAFe also provides a number of templates and tools that can help organizations to get started.

is safe something i should consider for my organization - core competencies for business agility

How Can Organizations Benefit from SAFe?

With SAFe, we can change the overall mindset to achieve a more value-stream-oriented way of working and implement agile methodologies across the organization. With SAFe, we can develop new products, services, or solutions with higher quality and pace to deliver value faster.

SAFe may be suitable for many organizations but it highly depends on the individual challenges. It specializes in supporting the transformation of a whole organization, not just on a team level. Even when most agile journies start with one value stream the overall goal should be to identify and consider all of them.

  1. Proven Framework

As it incorporates proven frameworks, SAFe® is the blueprint for total enterprise agility. 

  1. Faster Feedback Loop

One of the principles of SAFe is delivering product solutions gradually using a series of short iterations. Imagine your business is looking to build a college application software with about 20 features. Traditionally, you would have to create all the features before making the product available in the market, but this would come with tons of financial risks and arduous bottlenecks.

With SAFe, you create the software using an iteration of one or more features, with the most important features required for the product to function coming first. This is following the MVP (minimum viable product) methodology of product development. Making only the minimum viable features would allow you to test the product as a prototype and get customer feedback faster.

  1. Higher Productivity Levels

Imagine all the teams in your organization focusing on a common goal, each team relentlessly contributing their quota to that goal; that's one of the benefits of SAFe. Implementing SAFe allows for cross-functional teams to collaborate and commit to building products in small batches. This, in turn, allows for shorter feedback time, higher productivity, and allows easier tracking of work progress. SAFe uses Kanban methodology to help teams visualize and manage WIP (work-in-progress) to deal with bottlenecks and improve overall workflow. 

is safe something i should consider for my organization - kanban board

  1. Active Product Owner Involvement

Traditionally, although a vital part of a project, the product owner isn’t involved in the steps required to go from idea to product. The separation of the product owner from the process has always been a problem because they become detached from the project’s process and often the final product fails to match their original vision. SAFe incorporates methodologies like Program Increment (PI) planning, PI System Demo, and Product Sync to ensure that all stakeholders are actively involved in the planning and development process. 

  1. Customer-Centric Approach

The customer-centric nature of SAFe is one of the most vital advantages of implementing it. SAFe "insists" on making the customer a core part of the development process. Continuously involving the customer allows SAFe to ensure that the enterprise is creating "the right solutions for the right customers at the right time."

  1. Reduced Product Time-to-Market

The use of Agile principles in SAFe allows for faster product time-to-market. Because teams use short iterations to create products, SAFe reduces the workload and teams are motivated to quickly deliver valuable products. According to a case study by Scaled Agile, Kantar Retail Virtual Reality improved its time-to-market by 60%+.

  1. Elimination of Waste

The goal of SAFe is to help organizations build the right products, the first time. SAFe ensures on-time production while eliminating bottlenecks that cause waste. Here's a quick overview of how much waste you can  eliminate:

  1. The development process  actively involves the customer so organizations are saving time that they would have otherwise spent on continually tweaking the product to meet customers' expectations without actually knowing those expectations. 
  2. Developing products in short iterations allows for faster feedback and valuation of features. 
  3. Multiple teams focus on one goal, allowing for more rapid turnovers.
  4. SAFe also comes up with reporting solutions to keep track of the progress even better.
    The decentralized decision-making combined with a continuous learning culture, helps the organization achieve Business Agility.
  5. The creators of Agile methods made it to not just deal with symptoms, but also the root cause. In particular, SAFe offers a number of benefits when it comes down to solving your organization's challenges quickly and efficiently.

Significant Challenges of Adopting SAFe

  1. Resistance to Change
    Corporate culture and team members' unwillingness to embrace change has always been an impediment to innovation in business. SAFe is a mindset. Enterprise teams looking to implement SAFe successfully should be open to doing things the SAFe way. 
  2. Unrealistic Expectations
    Implementing SAFe isn't going to make any enterprise perfect automatically. SAFe, like every other practice, requires dedication, time, and, most importantly, consistency to see results. Any enterprise looking to implement SAFe must understand that it's not a cure-all for enterprise maladies. 

Corporate culture and team members' unwillingness to embrace change has always been an impediment to innovation in business. SAFe is a mindset. Enterprise teams looking to implement SAFe successfully should be open to doing things the SAFe way. 

Better SAFe than Sorry?

It's time to make a decision, and you need to make it fast. Value, quality, and speed are some of the most significant competitive advantages in the software market today. The software industry is fast-paced and you need a methodology that is suited to meet the demand on time and at the right cost to your organization.

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

Forget Less and Ensure Quality with didit Checklists for Atlassian Cloud Forget Less and Ensure Quality with didit Checklists for Atlassian Cloud Forget Less and Ensure Quality with didit Checklists for Atlassian Cloud

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