SAFe Vs Agile

The waterfall was the only model used for project management years ago. While it was working effectively for many projects, particularly for the ones that were easily predictable, it didn't function as well for those that required adaptability. As a result, over the last 2 decades, particularly the last decade or so, Agile has become increasingly popular in project management, particularly those involving software. In this blog, we will focus on what we mean by SAFe and Agile and how they differ from each other. So, let’s get started.

What is SAFe?

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a free online knowledge base that enables you to implement Lean-Agile concepts in your entire organization. It's a collection of organizations and work related values crafted to enable organization scale lean and Agile techniques. It's broken down into three sections: team, program, and portfolio.

SAFe also addresses the difficulties that come with extensive software development, as well as the many roles, responsibilities, resources, and operations that are associated at each level.

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What is Agile?

The capacity to make and adapt to changes is what Agile means. It's a strategy for coping with and prevailing in a dynamic and rapidly changing world.

The Agile Manifesto defines it as a set of values and principles. Although it can be applied to a wide range of projects, it usually represents a set of software development methods that combine iterative and incremental.

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Difference between SAFe and Agile

Now that you have a clear and better understanding of what SAFe and Agile mean, let us try to point out the differences amongst each other based on various parameters.

Principles & Strategies

Agile is an iterative technique to build a product that focuses on finishing tasks in a timely manner. It is dependent on cross-functional teams, sprints, and defined duties to finish the task. Agile was designed with a dedicated team of 8 or fewer team members in mind. SAFe, on the other hand, is an enterprise-centric Agile framework that isn't confined to small teams and enables organizations scale lean and Agile techniques.

Core Values

1. SAFe Core Values

As part of its framework, SAFe has established four core values which are alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution.

Alignment : It refers to the entire organization's understanding of where it's heading and how it plans to get there. The entire firm has a clear goal in mind and is working hard to achieve it.

Built-in Quality : It implies that every team considers quality as a speed enabler, ensuring that each product increment meets the highest performance standards. Quality is not something that is introduced later, but rather something that is built in from the start.

Transparency : The major reason for the importance of transparency is that it makes companies more resilient to setbacks. When problems occur, trust and transparency make diagnosing and problem-solving simpler.

Program Execution : SAFe focuses on working systems and business outcomes because numerous teams collaborate and get a product integrated.

2. Agile Core Values

Agile has also divided its core values into 4 parts, which are as follows:

Individuals And Interactions Over Processes And Tools : This value of the Agile manifesto emphasizes the significance of effective communication with the customers. A customer may have multiple concerns, and it is the job of the members of the team to guarantee that all of the customer's inquiries and concerns are immediately addressed.

Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation : According to this Agile value, the project team's utmost important responsibility is to deliver the final product as specified by the customers instead of spending time on comprehensive documentation.

Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation : Customers must be included at all phases of the project according to Agile values. If the customer is equally informed and allowed to participate in the development process, it will become easier for the team to deliver a product that matches all the customer requirements.

Responding To Change Over Following a Plan : Situations change, and customers may request more functionality in the finished product, causing the scope of the project to shift. Project team members must adjust swiftly in these situations in order to provide a high-quality product and assure complete client satisfaction.

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Benefits Received

1. SAFe Benefits

  • Agile practices can be codified more quickly.
  • It provides experts a practical framework since they can craft procedures without having to wait for process development training sessions.
  • The time it takes to get a product to market has dramatically grown.

2. Agile Benefits

  • Reduced waste due to resource conservation
  •  Quick turnaround time
  • Strategies for development that are more efficient
  • Increased attention to particular customer requirements
  • Interaction and feedback will occur more frequently


1. SAFe Principles

Economic Perspective : Knowing how economics work allows you to make better economic judgments. SAFe assists you in comprehending economic trade-offs, operational expenses, and the Cost of Delays. Everybody, from the top down to the bottom up, must be aware of the financial implications of their decisions. Poor economics is the most typical cause of failing products or solutions, despite the fact that there are many others.

Apply system thinking : Systems thinking is used in three aspects in SAFe: the solution, the system's enterprise building, and the value chain. The solutions might take many different forms, such as products or services. Mastering the three aspects can assist leaders and managers know how difficult it is to build a solution, how to arrange everything needed, and how long it takes to get a product to market.

Assumption of variability : Early in the development cycle, traditional design and life cycle techniques encourage adopting a specific design-and-requirements approach. However, if that launching point turns out to be incorrect, subsequent revisions will take too much time, resulting in an unsatisfactory design. Maintaining numerous specifications and design alternatives for a prolonged period of time in the development cycle is a preferable technique. The target is then narrowed using empirical data, culminating in a design that produces the best economic results.

Build incrementally : To comprehend uncertainty, integrated points are used. Integrated points can also be used as prototypes for gathering user feedback. The feedback pieces are obtained in order to better understand the customer's demands. As a result, a better alternative that fulfills the customer requirements is achieved.

Visualize current work processes : Limiting the quantity of work accomplished in the process helps you to monitor your system's efficiency. The system becomes faster and more efficient as the batch sizes are reduced. Queue lengths can be managed to reduce system long waits. This idea ensures that you get the finest results without overburdening your employees.

2. Agile Principles

Teamwork : In order to attain a quicker time-to-market, organizations operating in evolving market situations require Agile teams that can operate within short development cycles. Agile teams are preferred, especially in the software area, since they are more creative, flexible, and adaptable to fast-changing situations. Agile teams can create tested, software products in 2-4 weeks iterations using approaches intended to produce frequent, high-quality releases.

Community : An Agile Community of Practice is a community of individuals who share a similar interest or work in the same profession. Despite working on different teams within a business, they hold regular meetings to interact and brainstorm strategies to thrive.

Flexibility : A genuine Agile development technique is built on flexibility. Defining your flexibility, including it into your project strategy, and incorporating it into the Agile development process will help you to adjust to changes while still delivering successful software.

Pragmatism : Pragmatic Agile is an approach to Agile that uncovers the techniques that are appropriate for specific teams, their setting, and their goals. This implies instead of following procedures and theoretical concepts, your focus should be on delivering value.

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Pros and Cons of SAFe and Agile

1. Pros of SAFe

  • Clear and concise business goals
  • Quicker time-to-market
  • High-quality end product
  • Productive & high-performing teams
  • Increased employee engagement
  • End-user centric

2. Cons of SAFe

  • Comprehensive documentation & tracking is required
  • Several terminologies to remember
  • 10-12 weeks of planning cycles 
  • Confines the autonomy and adaptability of self-organized teams

3. Pros of Agile

  • Offer overall customer satisfaction
  • Focus on the quality of the product
  • Effective risk mitigation process
  • Believes in communication & continuous interaction
  • Flexible & responsive to change

4. Cons of Agile

  • Limited resource planning & documentation
  • Tracking progress is difficult
  • Can't identify what the end product would look like
  • The complete output is fragmented
Average Salaries

The average salary of a SAFe Agilist in India ranges from Rs. 12-20 LPA whereas the average salary of an Agile project manager is Rs. 15 LPA which can go as high as Rs. 28 LPA depending on your experience and knowledge base.

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SAFe would be more effective in the case of big enterprises that handle large and mission-centric projects because it incorporates existing lean and Agile principles in a template framework. SAFe also allows big groups to employ Agile methodologies by adding an additional layer of communication and control.

Other aspects, like administering the project, organization hierarchy, number of employees engaged, stakeholder requirements, etc, will influence the organization's decision to use the most appropriate Agile framework.

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As a Senior Writer for HKR Trainings, Sai Manikanth has a great understanding of today’s data-driven environment, which includes key aspects such as Business Intelligence and data management. He manages the task of creating great content in the areas of Digital Marketing, Content Management, Project Management & Methodologies, Product Lifecycle Management Tools. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

No, SAFe is not Agile. It's no surprise that teams resist change given the extensive training required to become "SAFe certified." They've been taught to operate in a very particular manner, one that prioritizes dependable delivery over learning, course correction, and agility. The tasks that make teams really Agile necessitate planned flexibility. They ought to be focused on customer success rather than a preset set of features. They necessitate a constant process of discovery, which invariably leads to unanticipated course corrections.

Agile was designed with a small team of 10 or fewer individuals in mind. However, SAFe is an enterprise-wide Agile framework that isn't confined to small teams and helps businesses scale lean and Agile techniques.

SAFe works with Design Sprints.