Scaled Agile Framework: What is it and how do you use it?

Scaled agile frameworkGiven that the technology industry is fast-paced, with new products seemingly released every other day, we need a framework that can keep up with the innovation, imagination, and creativity of today’s minds. Business owners want their software developed with user-friendly features and no bugs, and they want it fast. This is why the scaled agile framework (SAFe) is one of the best frameworks to use for fast and efficient product output. Read on to learn what the scaled agile framework is and how you can use it to speed up production!

It’s Versatile

SAFe is broken down into 4 levels: team, program, value, and portfolio, which allows it to not only zoom out and see the bigger picture (value and portfolio levels) but also zoom in to the microscopic level to ensure all the details are in order (team level).

It’s Intangible

SAFe is a set of agile best practices that produces a product; it isn’t the product itself. Like other sets of best practices — such as ITIL and NIST — SAFe is set up in a way where businesses can use the parts that best aligns with their values and goals. In that sense, SAFe ensures that businesses receive a more customizable product (which we’ll discuss more later).

It’s Scalable

As mentioned, SAFe is broken into team, program, value, and portfolio levels, with each level, like blocks, building upon the other. It is this buildability that gives it its zoom-in and zoom-out capabilities. On the microscopic level, there are the individual IT employees collaborating together on that iteration is set goal. Then, from a big picture perspective, the value stream and portfolio levels take solution architecture and enterprise strategy into account to make sure good architecture is utilized and a sound budget is allotted.

It’s Flexible

Unlike other methodologies (such as waterfall), SAFe is a very flexible framework, which makes it possible for new IT workers to jump on board mid-project. This is because SAFe is broken up into iterations (2-week time slots) and a program increment (PI), which is composed of a total of 5 iterations. During these iterations (on the team level), cross-functional teams collaborate with one another, using their skillsets to develop a work systems within the iteration.

It’s Customizable

At the beginning of each iteration, the team and leaders have a planning meeting where they come up with the user story. In other words, they’ll answer these questions: what specifically does the user want? And why? They’ll then set out to accomplish a set of requirements laid out in the meeting. Because the user story differs depending on the answer to those questions, the client will have a customizable product.

It Requires Teamwork

To ensure the teams are on the same page and hit the target at the end of the iteration, daily discussions are scheduled with the team and leaders (depending on the level, this could be the product owner, scrum master, product manager, and release train engineer).

It’s Communicative

When the iteration is over, the team shows the working systems to the product owner, who will determine if the requirements set out at the planning meeting have been met. The product owner will communicate his/her findings to the team. In addition, the team reflects on how the iterations went and brainstorms ways to improve.

It’s Creative

At the program level, the last iteration of a PI is for innovation and planning. During the innovation period, IT employees are given creative freedom to work out solutions and test ideas via hack-a-thons and/or ShipIT days. (The rest of the iteration is for planning the upcoming PI.)

Final Thoughts

SAFe speeds up production while still ensuring the product is effective. Would you use SAFe? How else is SAFe beneficial? Leave a comment!

Looking for further reading on Agile methodologies? Check out Squads’ Agile e-book

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