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Different Levels of Scaled Agile Framework

Agile techniques and concepts have been demonstrated to be extremely efficient in commercial and corporate businesses. The platform aids in the delivery of an optimal product to the consumer in the quickest and most efficient manner feasible. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is being continuously adopted across enterprises at 4 levels. There are three levels of Scaled Agile Framework: Portfolio, Program, and Team. Another level, Large Solution, has been added to the most recent version of SAFe, which is 5.0. Adjustments and modifications are often made to the framework as it progresses.

The Scaled Agile Framework is all about providing value through a centralized approach that is integrated with the business objectives. For maximum SAFe viability, Enterprise-Scale Agile is combined with decentralized Agile development approaches. Before delving into the three tiers of the Scaled Agile framework, it's important to learn a few additional words and processes:

Essential SAFe

It is considered to be the most basic type of SAFe and is divided into two layers: Team and Program. According to the Agile Manifesto, the task that is completed must be minimized for a sensible flow of things, and the work that is not performed should be emphasized to keep things simple. It consists of 10 components, which are as follows: PI Planning, DevOps, ART, Synchronization, Lean-Agile Principles, System-level Demo, Leadership, Iteration and innovation, Inspection and adapting Architectural Runway

Large Solution SAFe

It was created in addition to the Essential SAFe. Shifting away from simplification, this approach examines complexities or a diverse set. Aside from the team and program levels, a new level termed the large solution level was incorporated into this framework. When large solutions and complex systems must be designed or implemented, this level is employed. Several ARTs synchronize and collaborate in this setting to deliver value. There were enhancements to this model in conjunction with the Essential SAFe features. They are as follows:

  • Train in such a way that numerous trains may communicate with one another.
  • Ensure the development of a quality system.
  • Context to describe the system's interface.
  • Kanban is utilized as a method of controlling capability flow.
Portfolio SAFe

This is utilized in large and medium organizations with over 500 Developers. Portfolio SAFe is usually suitable for medium-sized businesses. Under SAFe, there are various portfolios in large organizations. The following are the essential characteristics:

  • Lean Budget
  • Decision-making authority
  • People are paid in order for value to be delivered effectively.
  • Portfolio Kanban implementation
  • Work visibility
  • A Portfolio canvas is used to outline the portfolio framework's objectives.
Four Levels of Scaled Agile Framework

SAFe levels aid organizations in the efficient adoption of Agile. SAFe is among the most widely used systems among Agile businesses and the many levels aid in the smooth implementation of value delivery and the achievement of corporate goals.

Portfolio Level

The objectives and goals for the entire organization are stated at this stage of SAFe. During this level, the emphasis is straightforward: the organization and its related priorities, purpose, and value.

At this level, a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) is in charge of overseeing Lean techniques and SAFe. The portfolio of a mid sized firm is the entire organization, although a larger enterprise may have many portfolios. Consider the case of a bank: it would have several portfolios such as a home loan department, a personal loan department, a credit card division, and so on.

The following are essential characteristics of the Portfolio level:

  • It is the highest level.
  • The purpose and objectives are specified here.
  • Strategies have been defined.
  • Epics and Business Cases have been defined.
  • At this level, crucial business issues such as finance and change management are dealt with.
  • The product roadmap has been created.
  • Progress is measured using lean concepts.
  • It results in large-scale projects in which the top-level strategy and structural epics are developed and then transferred down to the SAFe development team.

To aid in the creation of new products, the Portfolio level team performs activities such as

  • Educating teams and program groups on Lean and Agile techniques
  • Ensuring that the plans are carried out
  • Assisting the teams in carrying out the projects
  • Examining the value provided and calculating the portfolio's efficiency

The benefit of the SAFe over the Waterfall technique is that since it is based on actual measurements, iterative feedback, and extensive understanding, each stage in the process becomes skilled. The Portfolio Managers, Chief Technical Officer, Chief Product Managers, Chief Information Officer, Enterprise Coaches, and Enterprise Architects are the key actors. Among a number of advantages of this level, the most crucial one is that it aids in cost-to-market optimization.

Program Level

The second layer is the Program Level, which is regarded as the most significant of all Scaled Agile framework levels. The Agile Release Train (ART) is the level's focal point. The ART is made up of 8 to 10 team members that are accountable for providing value in a certain project. It is worth noting that every ART has a certain aim in mind. To that purpose, they create specific products and applications that are in step with client needs. The effort is ongoing and includes long-term development. SAFe value streams are used to synchronize ART efforts.

The following are key characteristics of the Program level:

  • The Program Backlog is always being reviewed and updated. The goal is to prioritize and set the most important stuff at the top.
  • ARTs offer an indication of how long it will take to build a feature.
  •  They are in charge of assessing and planning how to dissolve features into simple fragments so that value may be delivered more quickly.
  • WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) preparation based on business value, time, delay cost, and other considerations. Items having a higher WSJF score should be ranked higher and given special importance.
  • Program Increments (PI), which is an iterative procedure with a cadence, occurs at eight to twelve week periods. The ART's cross-functional teams deliberate and set objectives to mitigate risks and identify interdependence. PI is working on the joint ownership ideology. Each PI is an excellent chance to evaluate the history and plan for the future. Because of the PI, every stakeholder is very well informed and is on the same page.
Team Level

SAFe becomes equivalent to Scrum or Kanban at this SAFe Agile level. SAFe teams, like the latter, adopt an iterative process in which the entire job is split into Sprints that are typically 2 weeks in length. There are activities and artifacts which are identical to Scrum. The SAFe team plans a Sprint for each Release Planning performed at the Program level at the Sprint Planning event.

Business Analysts, Developers, User Experience specialists, Testers, Product Owners, Scrum Master, and other key individuals are responsible and perform an important role at the Team level.

The following are key characteristics of the Team level:

  • The team level's aim is to provide value.
  • All Agile teams need to focus on activities, events, activities, and procedures. Extreme Programming is utilized as the foundation for engineering techniques.
  • Scalability necessitates the use of Continuous Integration.
  • TDD or Test-Driven Deployment is a technique that is utilized here for assuring quality.
  • A backlog is used to create stories, which are then produced and evaluated through iterations.
  • Sprint Planning Retrospective, Sprint Planning, and other activities are among those scheduled.

The team level is the foundational level of a Scaled Agile Framework. The Scaled Agile Framework recommends that organizations spend significant time gaining expertise with Scrum at this level. Before implementing SAFe at the corporate level, it is critical to get appropriate expertise at this level. Only once businesses have gained sufficient expertise and skillset at the team level should they go on to the SAFe Program and Portfolio levels. Teams may advance to the program and enterprise levels of SAFe implementation by first embracing the team level and being fluent in Scrum Events and artifacts.

Value Stream Layer

Although the three levels of SAFe are described above, this extra level is added in SAFe version 4.0. It is the level that combines both ARTs and program teams to ensure that high-quality solutions are provided to users. When a company wants to keep up with its competition, the value stream level is critical. This level is divided into two categories:

Operational stage: This is the phase in which the firm offers its services to customers. It can also be considered as a money-making stage where revenue generating is the purpose.

Development stage: This is the phase in which new products and system characteristics are created.

To recapitulate, this methodology which includes SAFe levels will offer considerable value to the agile approach, which can be used all through the enterprise. This will help the Agile platform expand and can be easily added to the system.

  1. https://www.agilest.org/scaled-agile/safe-framework/
  2. https://echometerapp.com/en/what-are-the-levels-of-the-scaled-agile-framework/



Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.