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7 Core Competencies in SAFe

Updated: Feb 7

SAFe is the world’s leading framework for business agility. By delivering innovative products and services faster, more predictably, and with higher quality SAFe helps enterprises thrive in the digital age. It does so by integrating the power of Agile, Lean, and DevOps into a holistic operating system.

By being scalable and easily configurable, SAFe empowers enterprises to adapt the framework to their respective business needs. SAFe supports the full spectrum of solutions, from those requiring small teams to those systems that require hundreds of people to build and deliver.

“In the Age of Digital, every business is a software business. Agility isn’t an option or a thing just for technical teams, it is a business imperative.”  —Dean Leffingwell, Creator of SAFe

SAFe relies upon and takes direction mainly from four primary bodies of knowledge that are: Agile Development, Systems Thinking, Lean product development, and DevOps. By adopting SAFe and its well-described set of principles, values, and practices—the organization can realize more significant business and individual benefits.

SAFe Core Competency

SAFe business benefits derived directly from case studies written by SAFe customers

SAFe’s Seven Core Competencies: In SAFe, Lean-Agile leadership is the foundation. The focal point for all the competencies is the Business Agility Value Stream. This picture underneath provides a simplified view of SAFe’s Seven Core Competencies of the Lean Enterprise and their twenty-one dimensions that enable business agility. This framework provides an initial orientation to SAFe. It introduces the business agility assessment and frames executive briefings.

SAFe Core Competency

The SAFe Overview

The following seven competencies provide the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that empower organizations to achieve business agility:

1. Team and Technical Agility: This competency describes the critical skills and Lean-Agile principles and practices used by high-performing Agile teams to create grade-A quality solutions for their customers. Its three dimensions are:

  • Agile Teams –Cross-functional, High-performing teams bring in the required competency by applying relevant Agile principles and practices.

  • Team of Agile Teams – A long-lasting, team of Agile teams provides a shared vision and direction and is ultimately responsible for delivering solution outcomes. They operate within the context of SAFe Agile Release Train (ART)

  • Built-in Quality –To create high-quality, well-designed solutions that support current and future business needs, all Agile teams apply well-defined Agile practices & principles.

2. Agile Product Delivery: Customer centricity is at the heart of Agile Product Delivery. It defines, builds, and releases a continuous flow of valuable products and services to customers and users. Its three dimensions are:

  • Customer Centricity and Design Thinking – While putting the customer at the center of it, design thinking is used to ensure a feasible, desirable and sustainable solution.

  • Develop on Cadence; Release on Demand – Developing on cadence helps in managing the variability integral to product development. Segregating the release of value from that cadence ensures customers get what they desire.

  • DevOps and the Continuous Delivery Pipeline – DevOps and the Continuous Delivery Pipeline build the foundation that empowers enterprises to release value at any time it’s needed.

3. Enterprise Solution Delivery: The Enterprise Solution Delivery competency shows how to apply Lean-Agile principles and practices. Be it the specification, development, deployment, or operation it takes into consideration the whole picture. Its three dimensions are:

  • Lean System and Solution Engineering apply Lean-Agile practices to align and coordinate all the activities pertaining to specification, designing, implementing, testing, deployment and, the evolution of these systems.

  • Coordinating Trains and Suppliers: The extended set of value streams are coordinated and aligned. It uses the synchronized Vision, Backlogs, and Roadmaps with common Program Increments (PI).

  • Continually Evolve Live Systems ensures the coordination between the development pipeline and the large systems in their continuous evolvement during and after the release.

4. Lean Portfolio Management competency aligns strategy and execution by applying Lean and systems thinking. Its three dimensions are:

  • Strategy and Investment Funding ensures that the entire portfolio is aligned and funded.

  • Agile Portfolio Operations coordinates and supports decentralized program execution, enabling operational excellence.

  • Lean Governance manages spending, audit and compliance, forecasting expenses, and measurement.

5. Organizational Agility meets the need for more flexibility and adaptability. Its three dimensions are:

  • Lean-Thinking People and Agile Teams: Everyone involved in solution delivery is trained in Lean and Agile methods and accordingly applies the principles, and practices.

  • Lean Business Operations: To continuously enhance the overall value proposition of products and services, Teams apply Lean principles.

  • Strategy Agility: It pertains to quickly change the strategy and adaptability to match up with the changes in the market.

6. Continuous Learning Culture: The Continuous Learning Culture competency offers a set of values and practices that drive individuals and the enterprise as a whole to constantly increase knowledge, competence, performance, and innovation. Its three dimensions are:

  • Learning Organization: It ensures employees at every level are learning and growing so that the organization can transform and adapt to an ever-changing world.

  • Innovation Culture: Creativity and innovation among employees is encouraged.

  • Relentless Improvement: Every member of the organization focuses on continuously improving its solutions, products, and processes.

7. Lean-Agile Leadership: Leaders must internalize and model leaner ways of thinking and operating so that team members will learn from their example, coaching, and encouragement. At the end of the day, they are responsible for the adoption and success of Lean-Agile development. The three dimensions of Lean-Agile Leadership are:

  • Leading by Example: Leaders earn authority by modeling the desired behaviors for others to follow and inspiring them to incorporate the leader’s example into their development journey.

  • Mindset and Principles: By imbibing the Lean-Agile methods in their beliefs, decisions, responses, and actions, leaders set the example.

  • Leading Change: Leaders lead the transformation by creating a supportive environment and enabling their people. They provide the necessary resources to realize the desired outcomes.

About Advance Agility

We, at Advance Agility, are the new-age Agile Coaching, Consulting and IT services company. We enable end-to-end Digital Transformation. Agile execution is integral to our being. We are doing SAFe implementation with small, medium and large organization across the globe. Our vision is to be the leading Agile execution player globally. To keep adding value at every process stage. We are on a mission to empower our clients, move from concept to cash in the shortest sustainable lead time by adopting human centric approach to business agility. Embracing the change is in our DNA. Things that keep us apart are Quicker and Seamless execution with End-to-end gamut of services. Our Global presence and Stellar Track Record give us an edge over our competitor.

Connect with us at to learn about SAFe and SAFe Implementation. We provide various SAFe certification courses along with DevOps, Scrum, Agile Coaching and more trainings. Write to us at for any agile training or consulting needs. We are always looking for competent agile trainers as well. So if you are a good trainer or want to become one, do get in touch with us to that we can learn, grow and achieve together.



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