Safe is not something you usually think of when delivering technical solutions to waiting high-tech project customers. But the SAFe framework is something much different and can be extremely helpful in the development of tech solutions in the right organization, with the best teams, most relevant customers, and the most appropriate technology to meet the need for high-quality, fast, usable output.

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Scaling Agile across teams allows organizations to deliver larger, more complex outcomes by coordinating workstreams.
Scaling Agile across teams allows organizations to deliver larger, more complex outcomes by coordinating workstreams.

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) helps businesses address the significant challenges of developing and delivering enterprise-class software and systems in the shortest sustainable lead time. It is a freely revealed, online knowledge base of proven success patterns for people building the world’s most important software and systems. It is available from Scaled Agile, Inc.

SAFe promotes alignment, collaboration, and delivery across large numbers of Agile teams. It was developed by and for practitioners by leveraging three primary bodies of knowledge:

  • Agile software development
  • Lean product development
  • Systems thinking

The primary reference for the Scaled Agile Framework was originally the development of a big picture view of how work flows from product management including all key stakeholders, through governance, program, and development teams, and then out to the anxiously waiting customers.

The SAFe framework originated through the collaboration of many in the Agile community and was progressively and continuously refined until it was formally presented in a book in 2007. It is still being developed as a framework and shared publicly. There is an academy and accreditation process in place for supporting those teams and individuals who are working to implement, support, and train others in the community in the adoption of the SAFe framework.

The SAFe Framework and Project Management

From a project management standpoint, SAFe is important because of its adherence to collaboration and how well it can be leveraged for large, high-dollar, complex projects within an organization. The key applications of SAFe are enterprise architecture, all enterprise integrations, global governance, scalability, and funding across the organization.

Why is collaboration important and how can SAFe help? Collaboration as a project management concept is not only important, but also essential.

Teams and project leaders who fail to collaborate often fail on projects, leaving frustrated team members and dissatisfied customers in their wake.

What does collaboration really mean, and how does it fit into the project success equation? Collaboration means working with another person or group to achieve or accomplish something. Teams that don’t collaborate properly struggle through the project. The likelihood of success on projects is much better with a high degree of project and team collaboration with the project team and stakeholders.

The SAFe Framework and Collaboration

To achieve project success through collaboration within the SAFe framework, you must:

Manage a cohesive team

Collaboration starts with a cooperative, cohesive project team. Without the cooperation and cohesion, the project manager is just managing a scattered group of skilled people on a project, with no hope to gain any advantage that collaboration and the sharing of knowledge can bring to the engagement.

Use a collaborative project management tool

A collaborative project management tool supports multi-user access to a single project, allowing designated team members to keep their assigned tasks up-to-date with progress and notes. These types of collaborative tools will also store key project documents and deliverables and allow for check-in and check-out as the team is peer-reviewing deliverables and documents before submitting them to the client for approval and acceptance.

Gain organizational buy-in

Some organizations are not as supportive as they should be in terms of productive collaboration. Again, this often leads to project failure. Companies must encourage their teams to utilize collaborative tools to benefit from the SAFe framework. Support, understanding, and funding at the top of the organization leads to the level of collaborative efforts needed.

What Does the SAFe Framework Mean to Cybersecurity?

As mentioned earlier, the SAFe framework focus is on enterprise class software and systems in the shortest sustainable lead time possible. Since enterprise architecture is a first-class consideration, the architecture concept provides a set of planned initiatives in most cases that intend to enhance design solutions including focus on performance, usability, and cybersecurity.

Most notably, development and design teams – as well as project teams – in the SAFe framework consist of and require the presence of trained cybersecurity specialists, not only during early planning phases, but as a team member or entity available throughout the project engagement.

Is SAFe Relevant to Your Organization?

Having the SAFe blueprint means organizations can achieve better quality faster and make the appropriate cultural shifts that are required for its implementation. The framework helps you map the traditional roles within the organization to the new ones required for Agile transformation. It essentially outlines a path to a continuously improving empirical system, which is what Agile is all about.

You may want to consider engaging an Agile partner to enhance the implementation and adoption process within your organization. By engaging with an Agile partner who can work with you to implement the SAFe framework, you can get from “A to B” in a much more efficient and effective way; rather than piecing the steps together over many years, you are essentially accelerating the process by leveraging patterns that have emerged through SAFe’s battle-tested guidance as a result of engagement with an experienced partner.

The metrics are certainly there to prove the value of SAFe. Some organizations have seen exponential improvements in quality, productivity, and time to market. There is often far less risk involved since the organization is moving forward with known patterns rather than a lengthy, home-grown and undocumented process that may or may not yield results at the end. One of SAFe’s greatest assets is its normalized lexicon. Everyone can point to the framework and see the roles, artifacts, and ceremonies and read their descriptions.