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Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) – The four Configuration

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

SAFe Framework
Scaled Agile Framework- the four configuration

SAFe Configurations

SAFe 5.0 enables business agility and empowers business outcomes for organizations of all sizes, globally. It has enabled drastic transformation in higher customer satisfaction, time-to-market, improved employee engagement, enhanced economic outcomes, and all with a touch of terrific quality. SAFe envisions rewarding cultures and implements them in a fun and productive manner. SAFe 5.0 is also venturing into Lean-Agile adoption in the government sector. SAFe on its part holds up a range of development environments that can holistically transform an organization.

SAFe has four out-of-the-box configurations that have made it an integral and essential cog in the overall machinery of Agile development.

  1. Essential SAFe: The Essential SAFe configuration is the basic building block for all the SAFe configurations. It is the simplest configuration for Agile implementation. SAFe is woven together by an enterprise structure known as ‘Agile Release Train.” In ART the key stakeholders, Agile teams, and other relevant resources work wholeheartedly on an important ongoing solution. The Essential SAFe framework is built on the principles and practices that are integral to Lean-Agile leadership competency, Technical Agility competency, Team competence, and the Agile Product Delivery competency.

  2. Large Solution SAFe: The Large Solution SAFe configuration sets in motion the Organization Delivery competency. It is aimed at those who execute the most complex and largest solutions that require multiple stakeholders and Agile Release Trains. It skips the portfolio-level considerations. These sorts of solution-led development are mainly used in industries such as Aerospace, Defence, Automotive, and the Government. Instead of portfolio governance, the large solution is the primary focus.

  3. Portfolio SAFe: The Portfolio SAFe configuration completely authorizes and enables business agility in Lean enterprise. It is the minimal set of principles, practices, and competencies to set the work in motion. Portfolio SAFe extends at least three additional core competencies of Essential SAFe. Along with its sets of competencies, Portfolio SAFe also provides practices and principles for Portfolio Strategy, Lean Governance, Investment funding, and Agile Portfolio operations.

  4. Full SAFe: Full SAFe is the most comprehensive and detailed configuration. All the seven competencies that are needed for business agility are included in it. Its main use is by large organizations worldwide to maintain portfolios of complex and large solutions.

However, there are scenarios where multiple instances of different SAFe configurations could be required.

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) – The Three Levels of Implementation

  • Portfolio Level: A portfolio consists of a number of value streams. At this level Value Stream Budgeting and implementation is the primary subject of consideration. A backlog is generated at this level with Business Epics. Portfolio Level is the biggest concern in SAFe and its scope and responsibilities span across the organization. However, testers and developers are not required at this level.

Portfolio level
Portfolio level
  • Large Solution Level: When multiple teams are required to develop and deliver a large solution we need a large solution. The core competency we have here is enterprise solution deliver. The Solution Train is the organizational construct used to build large and complex Solutions that require the coordination of multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs), as well as the contributions of Suppliers. It aligns ARTs with a shared business and technology mission using the solution Vision, Backlog, and Roadmap, and an aligned Program Increment (PI).

  • Essential SAFe Level: This is the level where SAFe differs from Scrum the most. Here, the size of the development team is large. The team is SAFe is called Team of teams and participants can range from 50-125 specialists. The team comprises the usual sprint teams that take the mantle of the ongoing development mission. The aim here is to deliver a Potentially Shippable Increment. PSI deals with the quality of the software and not its marketability. Ideally, it should be free of bugs and possess release quality. The delivery time of PSI is five sprints.With every PSI, the end product keeps getting evolved. The value here is released by Agile Release Trains (ARTs) which is integral to SAFe. The more products to be delivered in an organization, the more ARTs there will be.

SAFe level

‘Advance Agility’ is an Agile-minded training and consulting firm. SAFe implementation and training is a priority for us. Our whole approach is to build a comprehensive framework around Agile and transform the companies of the future in meeting their digital needs.



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