In today’s fast-paced business environment, innovation is no longer an optional extra. It’s an essential ingredient for success. Companies that fail to innovate risk becoming irrelevant, losing market share, and ultimately falling behind their competitors.
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) recognizes this and has developed a specific framework to help organizations foster innovation.
But what is this framework about? And more importantly, what are the benefits of using it?
In this blog, we’ll explore the key concepts of the SAFe innovation framework and explain how it can help your organization drive innovation and achieve success.
What is the scaled agile framework (SAFe) about?
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Innovation Framework is a collection of established organizational and workflow practices designed to implement agile teams and methodologies across enterprise-level projects, particularly in innovation and product development.
It comprises a comprehensive knowledge base providing structured guidance on roles and responsibilities, work planning and management, and core values.
SAFe® advocates for lean product development through recommended practices based on systems thinking.
This framework includes the Lean Startup technique, which swiftly confirms assumptions and tests ideas.
It enables firms to identify and prioritize the most promising ideas while avoiding wasting time and resources on concepts that are unlikely to succeed.
What is the scaled agile framework for?
Usually, companies incorporate the scaled agile framework to achieve the following:
1. Systematic approach
SAFe offers a systematic approach to scaling agile as companies expand.
The objective is to guarantee a consistent and continuous customer value delivery in incremental stages while embracing any modifications the customer requests throughout the process.
This involves breaking down larger projects into smaller, more manageable pieces and delivering them in short cycles, known as iterations.
By doing so, companies can quickly respond to changes in customer requirements or market conditions and adapt their product roadmap accordingly.
2. Project estimation buffer
The IP (Innovation and Planning) Iteration is an essential component of the Program Increment (PI planning) in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).
- An estimating buffer to ensure that the teams can meet their PI objectives. This buffer allows the teams to accurately estimate the work required to complete the objectives and adjust their plans accordingly.
- Dedicated time for innovation and continuing education. This time is set aside to encourage team members to explore new ideas and technologies that can improve the quality and efficiency of their work. This promotes a continuous learning and improvement culture that is essential for success in today’s rapidly changing business environment.
- A collaborative process that involves all teams within the program coming together to plan the work for the upcoming PI. This process helps to ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards a common set of objectives.
What are the benefits of using the scaled agile framework?
Using the scaled agile framework brings three major benefits:
1. Increased speed and quality of product and service development process
SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) is a methodology that provides a rich set of tools and practices that you can use to optimize both the speed and quality of your production processes.
By focusing on a sustainable work ethic, SAFe enables teams to improve their efficiency and productivity while maintaining high-quality standards. With SAFe, you can expect to see significant improvements in these key areas of your operations.
To elaborate, SAFe emphasizes using agile methodologies, prioritizing iterative and incremental development processes. This approach allows businesses to quickly deliver customer value while incorporating feedback and making necessary adjustments.
Additionally, SAFe provides a framework for organizing teams and coordinating their efforts, which can help to streamline workflows and eliminate bottlenecks.
SAFe also encourages a continuous improvement mindset, where teams constantly seek ways to optimize their processes and eliminate waste. This can lead to more efficient and effective production processes and a culture of innovation and experimentation.
2. Efficiency and productivity
SAFe is built around the principles of lean-agile development, which prioritize delivering value to customers through the efficient use of resources and the elimination of waste.
One of the main objectives of SAFe is to optimize the flow of work through the development pipeline, from ideation to deployment.
By implementing lean-agile practices such as continuous integration and delivery and breaking down work into smaller, more manageable chunks, SAFe aims to reduce lead times, increase efficiency, and improve productivity.
When teams are efficient and productive, they become more engaged with a greater sense of accomplishment. Hence, by employing excellent communication and practices for business agility and IP iteration, there is less wasted work and fewer instances of rework.
This results in a more streamlined and effective process and boosts team morale and motivation.
By reducing inefficiencies and promoting productivity, teams can accomplish more in less time while maintaining a competitive business value and a high-quality standard.
3. Employee engagement
Involved employees are more efficient, driven, and dedicated to reaching the organization’s objectives.
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is an approach crafted to enhance the efficiency and efficacy of software development process teams while fostering employee engagement.
SAFe provides a clear structure and framework for teams to work collaboratively, focusing on transparency, communication, and continuous feedback.
Transparency and Communication
Providing a clear sense of purpose, alignment, and autonomy to team members, SAFe promotes employee empowerment and engagement.
When team members are invested and perceive their work to be significant and appreciated, they tend to be more productive, driven, and dedicated to accomplishing the project’s objectives.
One of the key principles of SAFe is to promote a culture of continuous improvement. This involves encouraging teams to reflect on their work, identify areas for improvement, and experiment with new practices and techniques.
By providing opportunities for team members to learn and grow, SAFe promotes employee development and engagement.
SAFe also emphasizes the importance of collaboration and cross-functional teams. Combining individuals with different skill sets and backgrounds can make the dream work.
The entire organization and agile team can work together to solve complex problems, share knowledge and expertise, and create innovative solutions. This promotes a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose, promoting employee engagement and motivation.
The values included in the scaled agile framework
There are five significant values included in the scaled agile framework.
One of the key principles of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is to ensure alignment across all levels of an organization.
This requires implementing planning and reflection cadences and regular meetings that allow your agile release train and development teams to plan, track progress, and reflect on their work.
At the highest level, SAFe recommends implementing an annual planning event called Program Increment (PI) Planning. This event brings together all the teams working on a program to plan the work for the next few months.
During the PI planning, teams identify the program’s objectives, break down the work into smaller chunks, estimate the effort required, and identify any dependencies or risks.
Quality and standards
In the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), you must establish what “done” means for each task or project and ensure quality development practices are baked into every working agreement.
This principle emphasizes the importance of creating a shared understanding of what constitutes a complete and high-quality deliverable and ensuring that all team members work towards achieving that goal.
Defining “done” means setting clear and measurable criteria for when a task or project is considered complete. This can include criteria such as code reviews, unit tests, integration testing, documentation, and user acceptance testing.
One of the best ways to achieve PI objectives and desired outcomes is to use a prioritization technique called the Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF), where the most valuable work is done first.
This technique prioritizes work based on economic value, time criticality, risk reduction or opportunity enablement, and job size. With WSJF, teams can focus on the most valuable work, reduce waste, and increase the customer’s value flow.
Transparency and communication
In the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) context, transparency is a core value that promotes trust-building behavior.
Communicating with your employees and being transparent with them involves several practices, including planning work in smaller batches, providing real-time visibility into backlog progress, and conducting inspecting and adapting practices.
This approach encourages teams to:
- Work on smaller tasks, complete them quickly, and get feedback from stakeholders. By breaking down work into smaller pieces, teams can identify problems earlier, collaborate more effectively, and adjust as needed.
- Provide real-time visibility into backlog progress across levels. This involves sharing information about work in progress, including updates on completed tasks, tasks in progress, and tasks that have not yet started to track their progress and identify potential issues before they become major problems.
- Regularly review work processes and outcomes and make adjustments as needed. These processes allow teams to identify what is working well, what needs improvement, and what changes can be made to optimize their work processes. By continuously inspecting and adapting, teams can continuously improve their performance, identify areas for growth, and respond to changing circumstances.
Program execution is the central process that drives all other activities in the framework. This process requires teams and programs to consistently deliver quality software and business value on a regular basis.
At the core of program execution is the ability of teams to work together effectively to achieve common goals.
Hence, this value emphasizes the need for a shared understanding of priorities, clear communication, and a commitment to delivering high-quality work within the organization.
Leaders are responsible for creating an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and continuous improvement. They must also demonstrate lean-agile leadership behavior, which involves a set of principles and practices that align with the core values of SAFe.
Leading by example
One of the key principles of lean-agile leadership is the idea of leading by example. Leaders must model the behavior they want in their teams, including embracing agility, promoting continuous learning, and prioritizing customer value.
They must also be able to motivate and empower their teams to attain shared objectives while cultivating a sense of responsibility and answerability among team members.
Establishing innovation culture
Another critical aspect of lean-agile leadership is the ability to create a culture of experimentation and innovation. Leaders must encourage their teams to explore new ideas and approaches and take calculated risks to achieve better outcomes.
They must also be willing to learn from failures and use that learning to inform future decisions and actions.
Apply the scaled agile framework with the right innovation platform
Accept Mission is a project management software that can be used in conjunction with the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Our tool has the features necessary to help your teams plan, execute, and deliver high-quality software products.
Book a demo of the Accept Mission platform today.