SAFe Version 5.0, What's in it for You!

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

Beginning of October 2019, Scaled Agile announced a new iteration of their Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprises (SAFe) in version 5.0, which is a succession to the current version 4.6. The changes to SAFe 5.0 are a huge step in the right direction, as companies look to expand agility across their enterprises. Scaled Agile simplified the presentation of the model and the new version looks much more simple to read and reference. Scaled Agile focussed on strengthening customer centricity, expanding agile beyond technical teams, and emphasising the impact of implementing agility at the portfolio management level.

SAFe 5.0 is expected to replace the current version SAFe 4.6 in Q1 of 2020, with enhanced focus on Business Agility.

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Significant Steps in the right direction. You can read the preview here

What’s New

SAFe 5.0 provides guidance on 7 core competencies that help enterprises become "Lean" and achieve "Business Agility". The biggest change you’ll notice is to the presentation of the model and alignment of components.

There are new competencies

  • Organisational Agility, which is the extension of agile beyond development teams and into the broader organisation.

  • Continuous Learning Culture in enterprises which delivers on the pillar of “relentless improvement,” which is a key focus area of this competency, in addition to supporting a learning organisation and embracing a culture of innovation.

However, this kind of implementation will require substantive leadership change that may be uncomfortable for many old enterprises which have known to do things in a specific way. It will be interesting to see how this translates into practice, given that companies have boards of directors and shareholders to answer to who are looking for linear one-, three-, and five-year plans. Compared to how enterprises should look forward to set a strategic plan and vision but remain willing to change it based on data (e.g. market changes, new customer challenges, and early adoption numbers).

Also there are new names for some other competencies. "Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering" is now known as "Enterprise Solution Delivery". Similarly "DevOps and Release on Demand" is now renamed as "Agile Product Delivery". The placement of these competencies has been now changed. They now appear on the left hand panel of the SAFe big picture.

Customer Centricity

Customer centric enterprises should focus on Market Research and User Research. Both help to Understand the Market and Design the solutions as per our learnings. SAFe also provides a new design thinking theme for enterprises which guides them how to apply design thinking and use diversity and convergence principles to develop the right solution.

I personally like the fact that SAFe Big Picture now puts Customer in the centre of the whole Agile Release Train and essential safe level. This is brilliant and will help all enterprises that we are doing all of this for the customer.

The new layout of the framework helps readers get more value.

There is a new Principle

  • Organise around value - This principle guides the enterprises to align their development efforts around full end to end value flow. SAFe values organise people to work together, increase quality and decrease cost.

What's Changed

Scaled Agile combined the Team and Program levels into a new “Essential” level, invoking a mantra taught during SAFe training: “Train Everyone, Launch Trains.” You can’t implement SAFe without launching at least one Agile Release Train (ART). The Program level contained the ARTs, but the Team level contained the people working on the ARTs. You can’t have trains without people, and you can’t have SAFe without launching an ART. Grounding the framework in practiced reality netted the decision to combine the previous levels into a new level, called Essential SAFe.

Core Competency: Lean Portfolio Management

A lot of work was put into the Lean Portfolio Management core competency, to better emphasise how enterprises adopt LPM as part of their journey towards business agility. They added a new “Portfolio Vision” area of focus, which goes beyond the Portfolio Canvas in previous versions.

Refreshed core competencies

DevOps and Business Solutions & Lean Systems

These two core competencies have been renamed and reworked. Agile Product Delivery (previously DevOps) remains largely the same, with a heavier emphasis on the “agile product manager.” Enterprise Solution Delivery (previously Business Solutions & Lean Systems) has undergone a major rewrite, with stronger content focussed on delivering large solutions to market, including systems and solutions engineering, coordinating trains and suppliers, managing the solution lifecycle, and focusing on living systems.

Updates on Implementation Roadmap

The sustain and improve step has been renamed as Accelerate. This new article basically focuses on how to accelerate the improvements further and now just try and sustain the page. Also includes some "pro-tips" and advanced concepts for the 7 competencies. There are two more courses introduced for the SPCs.

Updates to the SAFe House Of Lean

SAFe house of lean has also been updated to capture guidance provided by the revised core competencies.

To summarise, this is a very exciting preview of SAFe Version 5.0 and I personally am looking forward to review the entire SAFe framework in depth to bring out the hidden enhancements. I will keep updating this blogpost regularly as I discover this framework in the coming weeks.

Happy Reading.

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