SAFe 4.5 – 5 Key Things You Need to Know

Eugene LaiTue, 11/06/2018 - 10:58

SAFe 4.5 – 5 Key Things You Need to Know

As the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) continues to change, it seems to be getting more and more challenging to keep up with the latest trends and evolution of this framework that is becoming increasingly popular amongst solution developers and various businesses. As an Agile practitioner, I find that it is imperative to continuously study and understand the latest changes to different frameworks because my customers expect me to provide them with the most current information and guidance on the latest “best practices”. Besides, I also personally find it fun and interesting to see how various approaches evolve and deviate from one another over time.

After studying the latest release of SAFe, version 4.5, I have found several changes that may appear to be trivial on the surface (as compared to version 4.0), but are meaningful and important for all Agile experts to be aware of. For additional details on these subjects, feel free to refer to the source website.

Key Change #1 – Configurations

Arguably one of the biggest changes to SAFe 4.5 is the ability for practitioners to customize/configure SAFe in order to select the model that best fits the characteristics and needs of the organization. 4.5 enables the users to choose between four different configurations: (1) Essential SAFe, (2) Portfolio SAFe, (3) Large Solution SAFe, and (4) Full SAFe.

This change is a welcomed change for organizations that may have been intimidated by the “full” SAFe model that can be overwhelming. This tailoring mechanism allows the practitioner or implementer to focus on the right level of detail which will increase the probability of a successful adoption.

Key Change #2 – Lean Startup / Lean UX

SAFe 4.5 enhances its content with the addition of learn business processes which clarifies how a business may leverage of the traditional business case process and converting that into a “SAFe-friendly” input which drives feature development at the portfolio level. To facilitate this process, the concept of a lean business case is also introduced.

Key Change #3 – DevOps and Continuous Delivery

Prior to SAFe 4.5, the framework did not provide specifics regarding DevOps practices and how they fit into the overall model. This gap has been addressed with the latest 4.5 release. Taking concepts from the DevOps framework (as formalized by the DevOps Institute), Scaled Agile introduces a variant of the DevOps model to articulate the importance of the DevOps mindset. Note: Built around a CALMR approach (Culture, Automation, Lean flow, Measurement, and Recovery), this DevOps approach is slightly different from the CALMS approach (where the “S” is “Sharing”).

Key Change #4 – Implementation Roadmap

Version 4.5 of SAFe provides a clickable implementation roadmap which enhances the adopter’s ability to study and apply the roadmap in an efficient manner. This roadmap provides an excellent starting point for implementers that desire a structured approach to deploy SAFe for the enterprise.

Key Change #5 – Miscellaneous Updates

One of the often overlooked changes to SAFe 4.5 is something that appears very minor, yet is quite revealing about the framework and its future. The formal name of the framework was changed to “SAFe for Lean Enterprises”. You might recall that SAFe started as an engineering framework, then evolved into “Lean Systems Engineering” (SAFe 3.0). With the emphasis on the “enterprise”, Scaled Agile is now positioning the framework to be an applicable tool not only for development of technology solutions, but also for any business that wishes to apply lean practices.

While it is still very easy to be overwhelmed by SAFe, I think that the latest 4.5 release represents a beneficial evolution that somewhat simplifies SAFe for newcomers who are still on the fence about this approach. I encourage you to explore this framework further to see whether it makes sense for your team.