The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), is a knowledge-base of organisation and workflow patterns. SAFe® enables Scrum, an agile framework designed for developing and supporting complex products, to scale to 5-12 teams working on a single outcome.
SAFe was first published in 2011 and as of 2021 is in version 5.1.
SAFe is an agile product management framework, not a traditional project or program management methodology. Each Agile Release Train is launched by creating long-lived, cross-functional teams taken from the traditional business silos that deliver a service, product, or suite of products to stakeholders and customers.
SAFe uses Feature Teams — a cross-functional team, with all the skills and expertise it needs to analyse, design, build, test and deploy its part of the product. If you use component teams in SAFe dependencies are created between each of the teams that build their part of the product. In practice, when one team finds a problem, it has to return to the original team to fix. This tends to mean only about 1/2 of what is planned in a PI is ever delivered as time is lost attending to defects from other teams over building end-to-end parts of the solution.
Each Agile Release Train has 5-12 teams. If you need more teams to deliver value to the same product, and there are dependencies between those Agile Release Trains, you may need a Solution Train.
If you have fewer than 5 teams, consider another scaled agile framework, such as Nexus or LeSS.
SAFe is a collection of patterns from many different Lean and Agile practices. It is best described as a library of practices.
There are hundreds of different practices and patterns in SAFe. It typically requires someone with years of experience to understand which practices to chose for any one particular context or organisation.
SAFe refers to these experts as SAFe Professional Consultants (SPC).
Download the SAFe Fact Sheet to use with your teams.