If you’re not familiar with the concept of Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise (SAFe), you might want to take note. This approach to managing large scale projects is becoming more and more popular. Software development teams are the primary users of this approach.
The Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise is most often used for software development projects that are large enough to require 50-100+ development team members. The basic ideas for project management in this method are based in the Scrum process but, in these instances, the Scrum methods are scaled up to accommodate the sheer number of individuals and teams who are contributing.
The basic concept is that when a project becomes so demanding and resource-intensive that a single team can’t be effective, the Scrum process is applied to the Scrum process. This design hopes to integrate the efforts of a large number of teams and developers as they work toward their goal.
Since SAFe seeks to apply lean and agile concepts like Scrum to a larger scale operation, it only makes sense that when it was developed, it relied heavily on the principles that made agile frameworks effective. Some of those principles are:
While disadvantages of SAFe are well documented, proponents of the approach feel that the benefits far outweigh any of the negative side-effects. Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise applies Scrum to a collection of related projects. SAFe is often used for the following advantages it brings to the project:
The primary disadvantage of using a Scaled Agile Framework is that it becomes overly complicated and burdensome to keep up with. This goes against the basic ideas of the Scrum process which stresses clarity and organization in project management. SAFe creates a web of confusion in tracking and documenting.
Planning the Scaled Agile Framework setup alone can take several days. This heavy, multi-day investment can rob your project team of valuable time that would otherwise be used in the implementation phase.
Aside from tracking the deliverables and interwoven dependencies, SAFe can also find the team being mired down with excessive meetings.
All the complaints about SAFe point back to one idea: that the frameworks dilutes what makes Agile processes so advantageous in the first place. SAFe has the potential to make Agile process not agile at all.
Advantages and disadvantages of SAFe can – and likely will be – debated ad nauseam. The simple fact is that this approach is not for everyone. Some project teams will be able to successfully implement the framework and report on how great the concept is. Others will implement this framework and find that for them, it is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise isn’t for everyone. So, is it right for your project? Now that we’ve taken a look at the concepts behind SAFe, the advantages for its use, and the criticisms of its implementation, let us take a look and see if this approach is right for you.
There are a myriad of factors that go into deciding if a Scaled Agile Framework is right for your organization. Managing a development team of over 100 people is extremely challenging and SAFe is certainly a tool that should be considered. Certainly, one of the key advantages it has going for it is that the resources are free to use and readily available at scaledagileframework.com. It is a tested approach with plenty of resources and commentary on the web about how to best implement the framework.
Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise is certainly not without detractors, and, in some instances, rightfully so. These criticisms typically stem from the fact that the framework just isn’t an ideal fit for every situation. Honestly, you would be hard-pressed to find a process that is a one-size-fits-all, silver bullet solution.
In the end, your project management leadership will need to weigh the pros and cons of the Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise and determine if it is the best path forward. If you are in need of a large-scale, multi-team management framework, SAFe may be just what your organization needs.
July 27, 2020