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Scaled Agile Framework Core Values: Explained

Modern day organisations seek effective methods to manage and deliver complex software and systems development projects. As a result, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has emerged as a comprehensive framework. The Scaled Agile Framework Core Values help organisations scale their Agile practices and achieve successful outcomes. Its core values are Alignment, transparency, and more.

Today, enterprises have become aware of the Core Values of SAFe Agile and their many benefits. As a result, about 53% of businesses worldwide use the SAFe Agile Methodology to scale their projects, according to the 16th State of Agile Report

So, it’s time for your organisation to incorporate the Core Values of SAFe and thrive in today’s dynamic business environment. Read this blog to learn about Scaled Agile Framework Core Values. Also, explore their significance in helping organisations align business goals. 

Table of Contents 

1) What is a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)? 

2) Understanding the Scaled Agile Framework Core Values 

       a) Alignment 

      b) Built-in quality 

      c) Transparency 

      d) Program execution 

3) Why is following the Core Values of SAFe important? 

4) Major obstacles to Agile scaling in organisations  

5) The continuous integration activities

6) How do SAFe Core values stabilise and accelerate how Agile teams advance?  

7) Conclusion 

What is Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)? 

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a comprehensive methodology that provides organisations with a structured approach to scaling Agile practices across teams, programs, and the entire enterprise. It combines the principles of Lean, Agile, and DevOps to enable organisations to achieve business agility and deliver value to customers faster and more effectively. 

At its core, it promotes a hierarchical structure that aligns and coordinates the work of various teams and ensures a common understanding of goals and objectives. This hierarchical structure consists of four primary levels of SAFE:

a) The team level: Individual Agile teams follow established Agile practices, including Scrum or Kanban, to deliver value incrementally. 

b) The program level: Focuses on coordinating multiple Agile teams that work together to deliver a larger solution. 

c) The portfolio level: Ensures that the work carried out at the program and team levels aligns with the overall business goals and objectives. 

d) The value stream level: It Focuses on aligning the delivery of value across multiple ARTs and teams. 

Further, the methodology recognises that traditional Agile practices, which work well for small teams, may not be sufficient for large-scale. To address this challenge, SAFe provides a set of principles, practices, and competencies that organisations can leverage to scale their agile efforts.


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Understanding the Scaled Agile Framework Core Values 

The success of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) lies in its Core Values, which serve as guiding principles to foster collaboration, alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and execution. Let’s explore these Core Values in detail to gain an in-depth understanding of their significance in achieving agility at scale: 

Alignment 

Alignment is a critical aspect of SAFe that ensures everyone in the organisation is working towards a common vision and set of objectives. It establishes a cohesive and synchronised approach, enabling teams, programs, and portfolios to work together effectively. Let’s delve deeper into the benefits of Alignment in SAFe: 

a) Clear vision and direction for effective decision-making and promoting goal-oriented work. 

b) Efficient resource allocation to prevent duplication of efforts, minimising wastage, and optimising resource utilisation. 

c) Reduced conflicts and dependencies by addressing issues swiftly, minimising disruptions and delays. 

d) Improved decision-making, ensuring that resources are allocated to the most critical and value-adding initiatives. 

e) Agility and adaptability to help organisations adapt their strategies and execution plans, maintaining a competitive edge. 

Built-in quality 

In SAFe, Built-in quality emphasises the importance of consistently delivering high-quality products and services throughout the development process. By prioritising quality from the outset, organisations can minimise defects, reduce rework, and ensure customer satisfaction. Here are a few benefits that this Core Value provides: 

a) Enhanced customer satisfaction by consistently delivering high-quality solutions 

b) Reduced rework and technical debt by timely detecting and resolving defects 

c) Improved time-to-market by minimising defects and delivering solutions more rapidly 

d) Increased productivity and efficiency by automating testing and streamlining processes 

e) Promotes a culture of excellence by emphasising Built-in quality and instilling a sense of pride in delivering high-quality solutions 

Transparency 

Another Core Value that SAFe promotes is Transparency. It is a combination of values like openness, visibility, and clear communication within an organisation. By embracing transparency, teams can foster trust, facilitate collaboration, and make informed decisions. Let’s explore the benefits of Transparency in SAFe and how it adds to the success of Agile enterprises:

Scaled Agile Framework Core Values: Transparency
 

a) Alignment and shared understanding of priorities, enabling teams to work towards common objectives. 

b) Improved collaboration and teamwork by exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge, and leveraging collective intelligence to solve problems and deliver value. 

c) Informed decision-making promotes efficiency, reduces risks, and supports the organisation’s overall success. 

d) Early identification and resolution of issues, preventing the organisation from escalating and impacting its performance. 

e) Continuous improvement and adaptation by sharing information and feedback openly. 

Program execution 

Program execution is the final value that the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) promotes. It focuses on delivering value to customers with speed, efficiency, and excellence. Further, it emphasises the importance of translating strategies into action and achieving measurable outcomes. Let’s dive into the benefits of the Program execution:  

a) Faster time-to-market and gain a competitive advantage. 

b) Improved customer satisfaction by consistently delivering high-quality solutions.  

c) Optimised resource utilisation by ensuring the reduction of waste and maximising productivity. 

d) Greater agility and adaptability by embracing Agile practices and iterative delivery. 

e) Alignment and coordination between teams, departments, and stakeholders towards common goals, facilitating collaboration, and minimising miscommunication. 

Gain a deep understanding of Scrum values and their applications with our Scrum Certification Training. 

Why is following the Core Values of SAFe important? 

Following the Core Values of SAFe is of utmost importance for organisations seeking to succeed in today’s competitive and rapidly changing business environment. These Core Values provide a strong foundation for implementing SAFe practices effectively. So, let’s explore why it is crucial to follow these Core Values and how they contribute to organisational success:

Why is Following Core Values of SAFe important

Consistency and unity 

Adhering to SAFe’s core values ensures consistency and unity across the organisation. In simple terms, when teams and individuals align their efforts with the same set of values, it creates a cohesive and unified approach to achieving common goals. This consistency enhances collaboration, minimises conflicts, and promotes a shared sense of purpose and direction. 

Improved decision-making 

The Core Values of SAFe guide teams to make informed decisions that align with the organisation’s objectives and customer needs. These values provide a framework for evaluating options, prioritising initiatives, and choosing the most effective course of action. As a result, it enhances decision-making quality at all levels and helps avoid ad hoc or contradictory choices. 

Customer focus 

The Core Values place a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction and value delivery. It helps organisations shift their focus toward understanding customer needs, preferences, and expectations. This customer-centric approach drives the development of quality products and services to align with customer requirements, leading to better customer satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately, business success. 

Organisational agility  

Following the SAFe Values, organisations can embrace agility and adaptability. By aligning teams, fostering transparency, and emphasising execution, they can swiftly respond to market changes, customer demands, and competitive landscapes. This agility allows them to seize opportunities, mitigate risks, and stay ahead of the curve, ensuring long-term viability and resilience. 

Continuous improvement 

SAFe supports a culture of continuous improvement within an organisation. Its Core Values focus on built-in quality, embrace transparency, and emphasise execution. As a result, organisations can promote an environment that encourages learning, experimentation, and innovation. Further, it also promotes a mindset of seeking better ways to deliver value, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing changes that drive ongoing growth and success. 

Collaboration and teamwork 

SAFe also promotes collaboration and teamwork across departments and teams. It aims to align efforts, facilitate transparency, and emphasise execution. Therefore, it helps create an environment where individuals collaborate, share knowledge, and work together towards shared goals. This collaboration further enhances communication, breaks down contradictions, and harnesses the collective intelligence and expertise of the organisations. 

Major obstacles to Agile scaling in organisations

Organizations face key challenges in scaling agile practices:

1) Cultural shift: Adapting to Agile requires changing entrenched mindsets and traditional hierarchies, is often met with resistance

2) Leadership support: Without strong backing from leaders, Agile adoption struggles to gain momentum and resources

3) Complex projects: As projects grow in size, coordinating multiple teams and managing dependencies becomes intricate

4) Communication barriers: Maintaining open communication becomes harder as teams expand, especially across locations

5) Legacy systems: Existing systems that don't align with Agile principles can hinder integration

6) Training gaps: Inadequate education on Agile leads to misunderstandings and hindered adoption

7) Metrics misalignment: Traditional metrics might not measure Agile's collaborative value effectively

8) Organisational silos: Agile thrives on cross-functional teams, but silos slow down decision-making

9) Tool-centric approach: Focusing solely on tools, not Agile principles, results in superficial implementation

10) Change resistance: Agile's iterative nature clashes with resistance to frequent changes in some organisations

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The Continuous Integration activities

Continuous Integration (CI) is a fundamental practice in software development that involves integrating code changes into a shared repository frequently. The following are some Continuous Integration activities:

Architectural and design quality

The effectiveness of a system's architecture determines its present and future alignment with business needs. Applying principles like coupling/cohesion, abstraction/encapsulation, and flexibility aids in future-proofing. Design Patterns provide a common language to support these principles and ensure clarity. Considering multiple solutions rather than settling for the first choice is advisable.

Code quality

Code quality is achieved through practices including:

1) Unit testing: Developers create automated test cases to validate smaller code segments, enhancing overall quality.

2) Pair programming: Collaborative coding with real-time feedback broadens problem-solving perspectives, leading to better-built quality.

3) Coding standards: Team ownership promotes independent contributions, and consistent coding standards yield reliable results.

System quality

Design and coding ensure system/product quality aligns with expectations and business value, without surprises.

Release quality

Emphasising release based on customer demand ensures smaller, more frequent, defect-free, and risk-free releases.

Transparency

SAFe advocates open communication across teams, promoting access to roadmaps, objectives, and initiatives through tools like Jira and Kanban boards.

Program execution

SAFe's focus on working systems and business outcomes ensures efficient delivery of substantial value. Trust and transparency are crucial for success, as difficulties arise in execution. Aligning, quality checking, and transparency are pivotal for continuous value delivery.

How do SAFe Core values stabilise and accelerate how Agile teams advance?

SAFe Core Values steer organisational behaviour within a SAFe portfolio. Defining these values is vital for success, ensuring consistency and a strong culture.

Integrating SAFe is essential for Agile Teams, enabling agility in response to tech and economic shifts. It enhances transparency, collaboration, and value delivery, aligning teams from top to bottom.

SAFe's flexibility suits enterprises of all sizes, emphasising regular software releases. Through Agile Release Trains (ART), teams collaborate in fixed cycles (Program Increments), fostering unity and strategic alignment.

Continuous integration, validation, and customer feedback maintain a robust business relationship. This drives improvements in productivity, quality, employee engagement, and time-to-market.

Conclusion 

Incorporating Scaled Agile Framework Core Values is vital for organisational success. Alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution foster collaboration, customer satisfaction, informed decision-making, and agility. By prioritising these values, organisations position themselves for growth and competitiveness in a highly competitive business market. 

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