True to its own principle of relentless improvement, the Scaled Agile Framework® has released its latest iteration – SAFe® 6.0 – featuring a suite of refinements to enable teams to deliver better results, faster. PM-Partners Agility Practice Lead/ Agile Principal Consultant Matt Sharpe and Head of Singapore Stephen Parry talk us through the changes.
Ever since the first version of the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) was launched in 2011, thousands of enterprises have benefitted from scaling their lean-agile practices and principles through this increasingly popular approach. As expected, and in true agile style, the framework has gone through several iterations over the years, culminating in the significantly rewritten and revised version 6.0, launched earlier this month.
This new release has been highly anticipated and is a pretty big deal, incorporating a number of upgrades to elevate the framework and provide practitioners and enterprises with a much-expanded toolkit.
Announcing the update, Scaled Agile Inc.’s CEO Chris James said: “These new releases represent a significant advance in how enterprises integrate SAFe practices in day-to-day work, make the change stick, and achieve the benefits of true business agility.”
© Scaled Agile, Inc.
So, what are the main changes to be aware of?
SAFe® 6.0 at a glance
As well as a suite of new and advanced practices, techniques, and content, the latest update includes an entirely new look and feel to the Big Picture and updates to some of the terminology used (see pic below).
To simplify and align the language of SAFe across all levels, the word ‘Program’, for example, has been replaced with ‘ART’ – e.g. ART Backlog and ART Epic, and PI now stands for ‘Planning Interval’. Formerly ‘SAFe Program Consultants’, SPCs have been rebadged as ‘SAFe Practice Consultants’, and PMO has changed to VMO (Value Management Office).
Six themes of SAFe® 6.0
The most significant aspect of this latest revamp is that the whole framework is now underpinned by six major themes, as illustrated below. These themes change the emphasis of SAFe to true business agility and empowering teams, with a focus on improving flow at all levels of the organisation.
1. Strengthening the foundation for Business Agility
A major improvement is the promotion of Business Agility Value Stream (BAVS) as a prominent feature in the SAFe framework, which really shifts the focus upwards to take an enterprise from sensing an opportunity to delivering the right solution. The SAFe Implementation Roadmap has also been updated, and the roles and responsibilities of SPCs have been clarified to help everyone navigate change better.
2. Empowering teams and clarifying responsibilities
All roles within the big picture have been updated to include new ‘responsibility wheels’, which offer a clear overview of each role’s main responsibilities. This makes it easier for people to understand their roles and improve their job performance. For example, the new SAFe Scrum Master/ Team Coach article shows how their expanded responsibilities can lead to better support for the organisation’s goals (see pic below).
3. Accelerating value flow
The concept of flow has also been emphasised, and SAFe now includes four new flow articles that offer advanced guidance on applying flow principles to all levels of SAFe, including Portfolio, Solution, ART and Team – which along with updated practices, provide a roadmap to improving how work flows through the enterprise.
4. Enhancing Business Agility across the business
As successful SAFe transformations impact more than just development, SAFe 6.0 also introduces five business and technology patterns that extend business agility throughout the organisation. These include business-enabled ARTs, launching business trains, building an Agile executive team, applying SAFe to other business functions, and merging operational and development value streams within the same portfolio.
5. Building the future with Al, Big Data, and Cloud
Acknowledging the most significant shifts taking place in the digital landscape, the latest revamp incorporates expanded guidance for integrating AI, big data, and cloud into value streams. These technologies have become critical for competing now and in the future, and the inclusion of these into the framework is recognition of how important they will become moving forward.
6. Delivering better outcomes with Measure and Grow and OKRs
Finally, SAFe 6.0 includes expanded guidance on OKRs (objectives and key results) and improved tools for measuring competency and flow. These refinements will ultimately help teams deliver better outcomes – not just in the building of solutions, but in the SAFe transformation itself.
With SAFe 6.0, it’s all about helping teams work more efficiently and effectively so they can deliver better results more quickly. By focusing on flow, SAFe 6.0 empowers organisations to achieve the benefits of true business agility and step up to new challenges and emerging opportunities. In today’s fast-paced market of relentless change, this latest version provides the tools to not only get the most out of the framework, but to help maintain your competitive advantage.
Looking for more guidance on SAFe or to update your SAFe skills? Contact our expert team, and don’t miss Implementing SAFe (6.0) 29th Aug to 1st Sept – not only will this give you a practical understanding of how to help an organisation achieve business agility, but the course includes the opportunity to become a certified SAFe 6.0 Practice Consultant (SPC).
For a more detailed account of all the changes and updates included in SAFe 6.0, visit the Scaled Agile Framework website.
SAFe and Scaled Agile Framework are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.