Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) 5.0 – What’s new?

Insights | 22 January 2020

SAFe is a framework for scaling Lean, Agile and DevOps across an enterprise, helping cross-functional teams collaborate more effectively. As you can imagine, the Scaled Agile Framework was always going to evolve and now Scaled Agile Framework 5.0 is here.

It was originally referred to as the ‘Agile Enterprise Big Picture’ (Agile Software Requirements, Dean Leffingwell). The Big Picture focussed on leveraging Agile and Lean approaches and applying them at the team, programme and portfolio levels.

The latest version of SAFe (5.0) is a significant update to the Framework, incorporating competencies to facilitate organisations to become a ‘Lean Enterprise’ and achieve Business Agility.

So what’s new in SAFe 5.0?

Key updates include:

  1. Updated Big Picture view. This graphic literally covers the content (‘big picture’) of SAFe, covering an Overview, Essential SAFe, Large Solution SAFe, Portfolio SAFe and Full SAFe and incorporates the updates.
  2. Focus on Business Agility. Business Agility is the ability to compete and thrive by quickly responding to volatile market conditions, changing customer needs, and emerging technologies. It is viewed as a determining factor that will decide the winners and losers in the digital economy. Business Agility requires that everyone involved in delivering solutions use Lean and Agile practices to continually deliver innovative products and services faster than the competition.
  3. New Business Agility Assessment. This assessment assists enterprises in conducting a self-assessment of business agility, including analysing results, identifying growth opportunities, prioritising actions, integrating learning and of course, celebrating success!
  4. 2 new competencies. These support the overarching goal of Business Agility:
    • Organizational agility. This addresses the 3 dimensions of Lean-Thinking People and Agile Teams, Lean Business Operations and Strategy Agility.
    • Continuous learning culture. Describes the values and practices that encourage individuals—and the entire enterprise—to continually increase knowledge, competence, performance, and innovation. Dimensions include the Learning Organisation, Innovation Culture and Relentless Improvement.
  5. New level – Essential SAFe. This contains the minimum set of roles, events and artefacts required to continuously deliver business solutions as a team of Agile Teams.
  6. Refresh of Lean Portfolio management. Dimensions include Strategy and Investment Funding, Agile Portfolio Operations, and Lean Governance.
  7. Focus on Customer Centricity and Design Thinking.
    1. Customer Centricity. A mindset that places the customer at the heart of every decision.
    2. Design Thinking. Divergent and convergent techniques are applied to understand a problem, design a solution and deliver that solution to the market. The emphasis is on solution desirability, feasibility, viability and sustainability.
  8. New principle: Organize around Value. Many organizations are traditionally organised around functional expertise. Scaled Agile Framework 5.0 looks at organizing around value to deliver more quickly. This is often a challenge as it can require substantial organisational changes.

“SAFe can help your enterprise improve business outcomes by accelerating productivity, time-to-market, quality, employee engagement, and more.”

Achieving Business Agility with SAFe 5.0, 2019

Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.

About The Author

Tracey Copland, Head of Best Practice at PM-Partners group

Tracey has been involved in management, finance and business consulting including Portfolio, Programme & Project management for 20+ years. Together with her skills and experience, Tracey is a flexible professional seeking to achieve a high work standard, focussing on value-add.

Having been with PM-Partners group for 15 years, Tracey has held roles including Consultant/Trainer, Head of Training and currently, Head of Development. Tracey has provided training and consultation services to clients in both the public and private sectors, across various disciplines and at all levels including Project, Programme, Portfolio and Change Management, and Agile practices.

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