From Scrum to SAFe®, Scaled Agile Framework for the enterprise

There is an opportunity for the Aras DAD, Disciplined Agile Delivery for implementations, to formalize processes using SAFe practices with the Continuous Integration functionality being rolled out by Aras  DevOps and Training.

The Agile Manifesto and Principles were created in 2001. In the Project Management Institute (PMI)  2017 Pulse of the Profession report , titled “Success Rates Rise”, states that “71 percent of organizations report using agile approaches for their projects sometimes, often, or always.” Agile is mainstream and the design of Aras Innovator is closely aligned with the Agile Principles; it is designed for incremental delivery.

In fact, there are themes shared between Agile, SIx Sigma and the Lean Enterprise and Project Management, these may be summarized as:

  • Be clear about what you are trying to do before you start
  • Decompose work into small elements
  • Use a standard process for working on each element
  • Use and iterative approach, with feedback from early work to improve subsequent work

As W Edwards Deming’s said it, Plan-Do-Check-Act. He was a man who understood the impact of one syllable words.

What is Scrum?

  • Scrum dogma:
    • Write requirements as User Stories, “as a role member, I want this so that the result is”
    • Manage User Stories in a Backlog
    • Use cross functional teams of 5 to 7
    • Each team is self directing
    • Work in a formal series of iterations, sprints
    • Use roles: Product Owner sets scope as User Stories, Scrum Master is coach, or servant leader
    • Use ceremonies, sprint planning, daily stand up, sprint review or demo, retrospective
    • Optional
      • Pair Programming
      • Continuous Integration
      • … more

A scrum team can produce only so much in a sprint, so larger projects will require several scrum teams. SAFe is to Scrum what opera is to a string quartet. It is bigger, more complex, a richer experiece, high art! As its name suggests it is all about scale.


It adopts pretty much all of Scrum, although it uses some different terms. There is an online summary diagram , the following describes the central themes

  • SAFe has its own dogma:
    • Use multiple cross functional Scrum Teams
    • Create a 2 to 4 level organizational hierarchy, Team and Program with optional Portfolio and Value Stream levels
    • The total number of people is limited to 80 to 125, Dunbar’s number
    • Adopt standard terminology for each level (see diagram above)
    • Use Program Increments (Releases) of 16 to 24 weeks
    • Allow one Increment(Sprint) of slack time in each Program Increment(Release)
    • Conduct Program Increment(Release) Planning in the last Increment(Sprint) of the previous Program Increment(Release) and review the current Plan at its mid point
    • Have the whole Team present for Program Increment(Release) Planning
    • Use a prescribed and detailed agenda for Program Increment(Release) Planning
    • Continuous Integration is mandatory
    • Every teams Iteration(Sprint) backlog should include 30% of technical “Enablers” to maintain its “Architectural Runway”
  • SAFe®’s Rationale
    • It adopts Agile Scrum, and adds Lean Thinking, some concepts of Six Sigma and aspects of business psychology
    • It prescribes a scalable structure and means of communiation
    • Its terminology is disctinct from Scrum
    • It attempts to “right size” groups and durations based on experience
    • It focuses on human behavior, motivating people, avoiding dysfunctional teams and anti-patterns
    • It operates a training and certification program

What will it take to embrace SAFe® for Aras Implementations?

While Agile, Lean, Six Sigma and other business improvement ideas are now mainstream, they cannot be just switched on. It takes time, effort, training, experience and continuous, or in SAFe terminology ‘relentless’, improvement. The journey can be started by a willing new Program of Scrum Teams .



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