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SAFe Implementation

SAFe Implementation Best Practices

Mangesh Shahi
Mangesh Shahi
Mangesh Shahi is an Agile, Scrum, ITSM, & Digital Marketing pro with 15 years' expertise. Driving efficient strategies at the intersection of technology and marketing.

Scaled Agile has illustrated a 12-point guideline and a roadmap on how to go about the implementation of SAFe in an organization. These are what we may call the “best practices” to implement SAFe. 

The roadmap is shown below:

Source: Scaled Agile Inc.

Leading SAFe 6.0 Certification

SAFe Implementation in an Organization

1. Reaching the tipping point

2. Train lean-agile change agents

3. Train executives, managers, and leaders

4. Create a lean-agile center of excellence

5. Identify value streams and ARTs (Agile Release Trains)

6. Create the implementation plan

7. Prepare for the ART launch

8. Train teams and launch the ART

9. Coach the ART execution

10. Launch more ARTs and value streams

11. Extend to the Portfolio

12. Sustain and improve

Before even thinking about the best practices of implementation, an organization needs to do the basic groundwork and change the philosophy of the organization to embrace the change that is about to happen. This is more difficult than it sounds, as resistance to change may originate from inside the organization itself.

Prerequisites for SAFe Implementation

1. Providing internal staff of the organization basic training about Agile methodology: The organizations may hire experts for this purpose.

2. Provide training to the Executives on Lean-Agile Principles of management.

3. Creation of teams trained in Scrum and Kanban framework

After doing that, some identification work needs to be done. They are:

1. Identification of Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and Value Streams

2. If ARTs are not established, then they need to be established.

3. More ARTs need to be launched and extended to the portfolio and continue the same for all other parts of the organization.

Best Practices for Implementing SAFe

1. Provide Relevant SAFe Training

A motivated team is essential to drive any change in an organization. Hence at first, a team is formed, which is initially guided by external consultants, and ultimately after requisite training, the team will act as “Lean-Agile Change Agents “. SAFe implementation will be done and looked after by these people in the organization in the future.

2. Strike a fine balance between Autonomy and Synchrony

Any organization striving to implement SAFe should first bring about a balance between independence and inter-team collaboration in the organization. Agile Release Trains are formed to this end by the teams. Senior managers cannot monitor all work in each Value Stream. Hence teams should be able to work independently with as much collaboration as needed. They should take responsibility for their work about their expertise. Members of various teams should also work in sync with each other and with other groups, thereby marinating cross-functionality.

3. Program Increment (PI) Planning

Agile teams must plan their PIs early and often. These teams must be briefed about the expected results of each PI. Such organized planning is a prerequisite to the implementation of SAFe in any organization. The members of the Agile Release Train meet during these planning meetings and discuss the items of an iteration. 

They then return to the drawing board to plan their work. The PI planning team will maintain a backlog of PI initiatives and determine their priority so that ARTs can deal with them in that order.

4. Separate review and retrospective sessions

At the end of asprint, the team reviews the work they have just finished. The stakeholders, too, can participate in such reviews by giving feedback before the delivery of the product to the customer. However, such review meetings and “Iteration Retrospective” – the sessions where teams retrospectively discuss what went well and where there was some scope for improvement. This is as per the Agile philosophy of continuous improvement and will improve the team’s credibility and confidence for future projects too.

However, such review and retrospective meetings should always be kept separate. Review is focused on the product or service, whereas retrospective mainly focuses on the improvement of the teams as a whole. 

5. Maintain Continuity

SAFe teams are often provided with jobs requiring the development of continuous streams of a product or service from the same product owner- which may be in the form of updates or bug fixes. Hence, some organizations may need to rope in DevOps and automation to achieve this continuity by integrating bug fixes and features continuously.

6. Continuously Question and Adapt Accordingly

Teams implementing SAFe should inspect the Agile Release teams continuously and question themselves:

1. Is SAFe helping to reduce the Lead time for the services delivered by the organization?

2. What purpose do the teams work on? Are they aligned with their work?

3. Are staff at all levels aware of their purpose in the organization?

4. SAFe checks will help you answer these queries.

7. ScaleSlowly

Slowly but steadily, the SAFe practices need to be expanded to the other parts of the organization too. A lot of new Value Streams and ARTs need to be defined. These need to be customized according to the different work environments.

Leading SAFe 6.0 Certification


There is no hard and fast rule in the implementation of SAFe. Different organizations have different structures and work cultures. Also, they have different circumstances facing them. But, if, in general, the prescribed roadmaps and the above practices are followed, then we may expect a smooth implementation of SAFe in any organization. At Spoclearn, we provide widely popular SAFe certification training courses such as Leading SAFe 5.1 Training, SAFe Scrum Master Training, SAFe POPM Training, and others for professionals and enterprises to help them understand the various best practices to implement the Scaled Agile Framework. Do check out the Spoclearn website to know more information on the same.

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