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What are the Three Levels of the Scaled Agile Framework?


Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a popular methodology that empowers businesses to develop scalable, customizable, and sustainable software projects in a stable enterprise environment.

Adoption of an agile framework brings an array of challenges at an enterprise level that could be addressed using SAFe principles and values. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) and large firms employ SAFe to quickly bring new products to market. Scaling in an agile framework is critically important to build complex software systems to ensure quality and timely delivery.

Due to the wide adoption of SAFe’s industry-proven methodology and procedures, companies are hiring certified Scaled Agile Framework professionals to help lead successful transformations. SAFe training programs and certifications are in full swing for volunteers seeking career opportunities in business agility.

Recommended Reading:

“SAFe 5.0 Distilled; Achieving Business Agility with the Scaled Agile Framework” by Richard Knaster and Dean Leffingwiell is one of the best books that discuss the power of Agile, DevOps, and Lean to outflank the high-tech enterprise solutions in the shortest time possible.

This book helps you:

  • Learn the technical, and organizational competencies required for business agility.
  • Align implementation and execution strategies with Lean Portfolio Management.
  • Focus on customer experience and design thinking process.
  • Understand the benefits and problems SAFe can solve.
  • Increase customer value with stream networks using SAFe agile principles.
  • Employ leadership skills to thrive in the highly competitive digital world.

I’d recommend this book if you want to learn the dynamics and strategic themes to implement complicated systems at an enterprise level. The book is available on Amazon.

Translating Business Strategy into Execution

SAFe addresses the challenges at an enterprise level by translating business planning into events, constructs, artifacts, teams, and a highly synchronized workflow to deliver value. SAFe helps understand the initial requirements and objectives of a business with its strategic themes and principles. It helps provide a roadmap, vision, budget, and proper planning for IT execution at each agile stage.

Levels of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

There are three levels of the scaled agile framework. Level 1: Team Level Level 2: Program Level Level 3: Portfolio Level

1. Team Level

The first level of the scaled agile framework is the team level. It aims at delivering value when a network of product owners, software developers, scrum masters, and testers follow agile methodology to deliver quality outcomes. At this level, the team follows agile frameworks including Kanban, Scrum, XP, or Scrumban, etc. with the ultimate purpose of meeting the end results and project expectations.

Team level ensures adoption of strategic themes to stay aligned with the project roadmap, vision, and budget. After planning, requirements are built and tested in each iteration.

2. Program Level

Above the team level, there is a program level that works on the concept of Agile Release Train (ART). At this level, the agile team meets the needs of DevOps, UI/UX, architects, and the engineers of the project. DevOps and systems are two major teams that work together to build an environment for development. Also, at this level, the teams are responsible to give a sprint demo for staging and testing the system. Whereas the DevOps team prepares for deployment requirements. Program level mostly deals with ensuring substantial value, reliability, and predictability of the project.

3. Portfolio Level

This is the third level of SAFe. The portfolio level takes into consideration the enterprise’s portfolio management and architecture. At this level, the owners play a vital role in maintaining the core competencies of an enterprise. This level deals with investments, funding, organizational agility, and lean portfolio management. The portfolio level also enables best practices for budgeting that an enterprise could utilize to fund projects. A lean budget helps in quick and effective decision-making for business owners. Resources and funding are managed efficiently to build solutions with the aim of delivering value to customers.

Core Values of SAFe

To lead the multi-team development at each stage, there are four core values that help develop high-quality projects and predict their value.

1. Alignment

Alignment corresponds to the synchronization among the team members regarding their contribution to the project. For instance, the iteration for development, designing, and testing is started and completed on the same day. Moreover, alignment also highlights the use of strategic themes that apply to each member of the team based on which the dynamics are managed.

2. Built-in Quality

Maintaining quality in products is a core value of SAFe. It ensures that every product increment maintains the quality standards. From the quality of the codebase to the performance of the project, Extreme programming techniques such as test-driven development, stories, continuous integration, and emergent design, etc. are used to ensure quality after each iteration.

3. Transparency

Transparency ensures visibility in the work backlogs, progress, and commitments of the project. Each member of the team knows the role of all other team members and a complete demonstration is given for a fully integrated solution every two weeks. The team obtains the feedback, makes changes, and new actions are included in the backlogs.

4. Program Execution

In program execution, multiple teams collaborate and integrate on a project to put the combined effort into execution. This core value highly depends on the team dynamics at the program level. From development to testing and deployment, program execution should meet all the quality standards that depict the value and reliability of the product.

Final Thoughts

SAFe is a holistic approach towards enterprise scaling that is here to stay. Due to its highly customizable and configurable options, SAFe implementation always leads to enhanced development, deployment, quality, and value expectations.

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