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Complete Details on Enterprise Architecture in SAFe

Scaled Agile Framework helps businesses put into practice Agile and Lean principles. This happens particularly in large organizations. SAFe Enterprise Architecture is a key component of fostering adaptive design. It is also a component for engineering practices and drives teams and programs to travel around a shared technical vision. 

When you take the case of new Agile organizations, the role of enterprise architects is considerable. They help get strategic guidance for the Developers with technology standards and reference architectures. In turn, these teams in an organization can work in a standardized manner. As a result, reworks due to probable misalignments with the standards of the organization can be avoided. Therefore, it is crucial for organizations to better understand the key elements of SAFe. 

Nowadays, there is a considerable increase in the number of large organizations that adopt this framework. This includes emergent design, intentional architecture and notions of the architectural runway. The interactions of enterprise architects with Developers in an organization can bring positive outcomes. This will happen, particularly in organizations with new Agile teams.

Enterprise Architects – Gain More Knowledge:

In the Agile enterprise architecture framework, a SAFe enterprise architect drives design, engineering and application of patterns and also drives the reuse of patterns. They create enabler epics for the architectures. Together all these aspects encompass the solutions in a portfolio. Depending on ongoing feedback, these architects help. To be specific, they aid with the fostering of adaptive design and engineering practices. 

There will be an increase in the chances of suboptimal system performance at times. This happens due to poor visibility, communication and strategic technical planning. When the system performance declines, there can be a considerable effect on the Business Agility. But, it will be possible to support the present and future business needs with some architectural governance and runway. The governance can include behavioral constructs and usability across the Enterprise’s solution. Here, organizations can get guidance for Solution and Agile Release Trains from system architects.

The architectural challenges are considerable even more in Full SAFe and Portfolio SAFe. Businesses are pushed in directions beyond the scope of Agile Teams by different factors. Examples include emerging standards, competitive differences, changes in underlying technologies, acquisitions and mergers. But, an enterprise architect SAFe can provide strategic technical direction. They can provide this guidance across Agile Release Trains and Solution trains. The architect can do this with the motto of ensuring that the organization can benefit from the emerging opportunities. They will help the organization respond to and mitigate threats. Some of the elements of this strategy might encompass recommendations for the development of technology stacks. Even, the recommendation can include hosting, application program interfaces and interoperability. Even, they apply a customer-centric mindset to their work when making architectural choices. For instance, APIs are interfaces that bring advantages from the application of design thinking practices.

Responsibilities of Enterprise Architect:

When learning about enterprise architecture in SAFe, you should know the responsibilities of a Scaled Agile Enterprise Architect. Of course, they are responsible for many things. Here are some key responsibilities: 

  • Synchronizing Non-functional requirements, solution user experience, production infrastructure, system & data security and quality across solutions. They are responsible for doing this sync, wherever possible.
  • Enabling the reuse of proven patterns, components and code.
  • Not only the collection but also the generation and evaluation of innovative technologies and ideas for use across the business.
  • Promotion of DevOps and Continuous Delivery Pipeline capabilities
  • Influencing coding, design and modeling practices.
  • Driving architectural moves through enabler epics in the Portfolio Kanban System. Also, enterprise architects are responsible for taking part in their analysis, wherever applicable.
  • Gaining knowledge of and communicating strategic themes along with other business drivers for architecture. This communication should be done with non-technical stakeholders. It should also be with other solutions and system architects in the organization.
  • Taking part in the strategy for developing and maintaining the architectural runway through Enabler Epics.
  • Aiding value streams to stick to the budget guardrails for retiring solutions.
  • Assisting the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence and Agile Program Management Office to find and design development value streams.
  • Working in association with Lean Portfolio management for providing a high-level vision of development initiatives and enterprise solutions.
Learn About Enterprise Architecture Strategy:

The right strategy for enterprise architecture will help with adapting to organizational change quickly. In turn, organizations can provide a considerable competitive advantage. So, framing the right enterprise architecture strategy is important. Here are the elements of the best strategy:

Elements of Enterprise Architecture Strategy:
Choice of Technology and Usage:

The selection of the appropriate technologies is a crucial element of strategy development. Supporting activities encompass prototyping and research. It also encompasses understanding the scope and applicability and evaluating the maturity of innovative new technologies. 

Solution Architecture Strategy:

A Scaled Agile Enterprise Architect works in close circles with System and Solution architects. They do this to make sure that individual product strategies and programs are in line with the technical and business goals. For instance, emerging solutions to local issues should be consistent with the entire enterprise strategy. If the solutions are not consistent, decisions should be transparent. The reason is that a solution that is not consistent may have an effect on the future enterprise strategy.

Infrastructure Strategy:

Development and maintenance of plans for infrastructure can turn out to be challenging. This can happen when they overlap with the work of system architects. A few of these responsibilities encompass the reuse of configuration patterns and sharing of knowledge across Agile Release and Solution Trains. The responsibilities also encompass the reuse of common physical infrastructure and knowledge sharing across system teams. Further, a few deployment and development infrastructures will probably cut across the internal IT systems and a SAFe enterprise architect can provide the right direction.

Inter-Program Collaboration:

Standard infrastructure and design practices aid with aligning and simplifying architecture across varied programs and teams. Nevertheless, it is also important that Agile Release Trains and Value Streams have enough degrees of freedom. When this does not happen, there will be a reduction in innovation. So, both variable and standard architecture designs should be discussed and shared among the Agile Release Trains.

Implementation Strategy:

It will not be an overstatement to say that an active implementation strategy is important. The development of a technical foundation for business epics into the architectural runway should happen gradually. Quick feedback and ongoing learning permit businesses and architectural functionality for growing over time. This rapid pace of change needs Agile teams to refactor their code as required. Also, it needs the preservation of multiple possible design options whenever practical. Generalization and abstraction aid with the prevention of binding specificity very early. In turn, they aid with maintaining architectural flexibility for future business requirements.

Continuous Improvement and Respect for People:

The Lean-Agile mindset helps with the creation of a healthy environment, where everyone functions on facts and not assumptions. Particularly, enterprise architects should have this mindset so that they can maintain healthy connections with every System Architect, Solution Train Engineer and Agile Release Train Engineer. They can ensure the same via the following events and tasks:

  • Taking part in PI planning events to guide the implementation of enabler epics.
  • Taking part in system demos as and when crucial foundation or redesign work is in progress.
  • Taking part in design and architecture CoPs.
  • Getting feedback on the present enterprise-wide moves

Agile teams will rely on techniques suggested by a person with a better understanding of the present context and challenges. In the same way, the enterprise architect will have better dependability of the person with full visibility of the present context and gives feedback that improves the architecture over time.

Associations and Roles:

When talking about Scaled Agile Enterprise Architect, SAFe defines three roles of architects. They are System, Solution and Enterprise architects. These roles address concerns on architecture at their appropriate levels like solution programs and portfolios. They work together at regular intervals among and across levels for ensuring alignment. The purpose is to address concerns and issues as they come up.

As you can get from the image below, the roles need all the required architectural skills to decide on the technical aspects. So, the role may be taken by more than a single person to make sure of preventing architectural decisions from hindering teams. The reason is that they will have enough knowledge to prevent hindrances.

Source: Scaled Agile

The technical strategy and interdependent nature of the business need the association between architects and other Scaled Agile Framework roles for making sure that the architecture meets the present and upcoming requirements of the business. Not only the requirements of businesses but also the customers served by the business. Within the ARTs, System Architects share information about the technical path via the architectural runway, NFRs and the design and support of the CD pipeline. 

System Architects coordinate with SAFe Enterprise Architects and Solution Architects for making sure that their solutions are in line with the larger organizational vision. In the end, architects in any position are also Lean-Agile leaders with the responsibility of keeping an eye on the teams and improving their overall capabilities of contributors.

  1. https://www.scaledAgileframework.com/enterprise-architect
  2. https://www.architectureandgovernance.com/app-tech/safe-and-enterprise-architecture-explained-in-5-points/
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-does-enterprise-architect-do-safe-bo-vincent-thomsen
  4. https://community.mega.com/t5/Blog-EN-Business-IT/SAFe-and-Enterprise-Architecture-explained-in-4-points/ba-p/24150



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.