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What is Spanning Palette in SAFe?

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

When painters paints a picture they need flexibility to chose the color for various parts of the work. The color palette they have servers the purpose, which have various colors and they can be carefully used by the painter as needed, where ever needed. Similarly in the SAFe Framework big picture, we have a spanning palette on the right side of the picture, which have building blocks to be used where rewired at all levels of SAFe. Lets understand them a bit better.


”Agility is the ability to adapt and respond to change...”


Agile methodology is for project-focused and product-focused delivery but along with this, it is also applied to work, related to portfolios and enterprises. SAFe is the solution for the lean adoption of agile. Spanning Palette is an indivisible part of SAFe.

Before knowing the spanning palette, let’s have a quick look at the four levels of the SAFe model for a better understanding of the spanning palette.

  1. Essential Level- With agile thinking and methodology this level brings the team together for agile product delivery.

  2. Large solution level- It organizes and position complete supply process to deliver the large system with help of lean methodology and continuously mature those systems.

  3. Portfolio Level- It along with agile product delivery consolidates lean governance, investment fund, enterprise agility, and portfolio management.

  4. Full level- Full level merges all levels to develop agile solutions. It helps in developing enterprise-level solutions including lean agile leadership, portfolio management, etc.

Key points to know about spanning palettes are:

  • It talks about the various roles and artifacts which are applied to more peculiar teams, programs, large solutions, or portfolio contexts.

  • Have guidance elements that can be used in specific contexts.

  • Spanning palettes tools are vision, road-map, Milestones, Shared service, Community of practice (CoP), System team, Lean user experience (UX), Metrics.

Considering the tools of spanning palette three tools shown on the left side of the image serve an essential level. Whereas tools on the right side of the image serve all other levels. Even if it is so, SAFe being a framework any tools from the larger spanning palette can be applied for essential level also.



Now let’s learn about the tools and their benefits:


Vision- It describes the future lookout for the solution which is under development. It proposes features and capabilities required to meet the need reflected by customers and stakeholders. It has three types mentioned:

  • Portfolio vision

  • Solution vision

  • Program vision


Road-map- It is a set of scheduled events and milestones that provide planned solutions. Stakeholders get long-term and short-term views of deliverable with this. It is a go media between strategy and tactics. Road-maps are also of three types:

  • Program increment (PI)

  • Solution Road-map

  • Portfolio Road-map


Milestones- Milestone is trackers for goals and events. They are of three types.

  • Program increment (PI)

  • Fixed date milestone

  • Learning milestone


Shared Services- These are special roles, individuals, and services given for some dedicated time required for successful agile release train or we can say required for solution trains. The people providing shared services have a very low available skill set. Every agile release train and solution team while planning should also plan for the service of shared services personnel they are going to require further.

Some of their examples are agile coaches, enterprise or information architects, desktop support, configuration management, etc.


Community of practice (CoP)- It is practice build within a team or organization creating a culture to share knowledge, common skills, personal relationships, and professional network. CoP provides knowledge workers with voluntary participation an opportunity to encounter mastery, autonomy, and purpose apart from their daily routine in agile train.


System Team- Agile team is that which guides in developing and maintaining an agile environment. Even though every scrum team is complete within themselves and fully functional or cross-functional as per their requirement, but considering huge solutions a system team is provided for the integration of deliverable of agile teams.


Lean UX- It provides a perception of a system as per user experience. Lean UX focuses on a designing system on basis of end-user understanding by keeping in account the system’s ease of use, utility, and effectiveness along with the user's needs and wants.


Metrics- It helps to provide a model for measurement of progress in business agility. There are a large set of tools that can be used in metrics.

As we can see from the above description of tools in spanning palette, the benefits it provides include a guide element for the planning of agile adaptability or specific context.

Along with guidance, it provides the flexibility in planning for better implementation of SAFe hence providing better results from the team.

Spanning palette gives a guidance element in large, challenging, and complex businesses where all other techniques are ineffectual.

By understanding and implementing a spanning palette will help in complete utilization of the SAFe, hence accomplishing the agile benefits.


“Keep your roadmap simple and easy to understand. Capture what really matters; leave out the rest.”


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 advanceagility.com to learn about SAFe and SAFe Implementation. Write to us at contact@advanceagilty.com 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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