Has Someone Asked For Escape from inefficient project management that drives on to poor results or provokes chaos instead of structured stability? Then SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) may become your knight in shining armour. While some refer to it as a “fake Agile”, in reality, it’s an Agile methodology evolution that was initially called Agile Enterprise Big Picture. The name speaks for itself: it’s Agile, which allows us to manage complex projects with several aligned teams involved.

The framework has already benefited more than one million professionals and 20,000+ enterprises across numerous industries. And Plavno, an outsourcing agency, is proud to be in the club. Why do we bet on SAFe, and how does it help us remain competitive and productive? Here we cover it all.

An Honest Outlook of SAFe Processes

Although SAFe was initially created for developers, Plavno applies it across the whole company, from HR and Marketing to the Sales and Finance departments. Instead of the traditional hierarchical organizational structure, where an executive decides where the company is going and by what means, the management decides the final destination, while it’s teams that decide how to reach it. Sounds too complicated? Let’s look at Plavno from the SAFe perspective:

  • Company level: encompasses top management that sets weekly, quarterly, and annual OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). Think of it as a brain that just initiated a command to run 1 kilometre.
  • Train level: can be referred to as departments or broad categories of employees with specific expertise (software development, finance, HR, marketing, sales, etc.) Imagine that it’s the nine systems of the human body: musculoskeletal, respiratory, circulatory, and others. Each one is made of smaller organs with their own jurisdiction, but all the organs of one system have a common goal.
  • Team level: smaller teams that fall into trains. They perform specific tasks to reach the train’s OKRs that will result in achieving the company’s OKRs. These are the organs that do all the work. For example, legs, as a part of the musculoskeletal system, are responsible for moving, while lungs, as a part of the respiratory system, are responsible for breathing. When all organs fulfil their smaller duties correctly, a human being can easily complete the brain’s task — run 1 kilometre.

However, setting up a single goal and breaking a company into trains and teams isn’t enough. You need to think through proper monitoring and supervision. Here are some of Plavno’s best practices:

  • Each train and team has a sprint and quarter backlog — a set of tasks to accomplish within a specific period.
  • Each team has developed risk management initiatives to maximize efficiency.
  • Each train has a lead who oversees the processes and OKRs across all the teams.
  • Each team has a Scrum Master and Product Owner. The former is a servant-leader to educate the team about various agile frameworks and ensure they are implemented correctly, the latter defines Stories and prioritizes the backlog to streamline the processes.
  • Each team, train, and the overall company have a clear roadmap. Besides, there are plans with prioritized tasks for a sprint, quarter, and year. Employees regularly attend meetings to review processes, accomplishments, and current tasks.
  • The SAFe consultant sets up the processes across the company, monitors them, and constantly improves them.

Aligned Teams, No Bosses, and Rapid Achievements

SAFe is best used for cross-functional teams that require no supervisor to monitor employees day and night. The independent nature implies a high level of autonomy but total alignment at the same time. If something goes wrong, it’s easy to spot where the missing of the puzzle is. As a result, you get yourself a collaborative team that is easy to monitor if necessary. But what is more important, as an executive, you free yourself from the constant egg-and-chicken puzzle: you no longer need to attend four-hour meetings where the whole team tries to put the blame on the others.

Basically, an executive (or a key decision-maker) is a captain who says, “We need to cross the river, figure out how.” You won’t come asking if anyone is working on the river problem, you won’t even need to figure the solution out yourself, and your team won’t be lost in ambiguity, not understanding where it’s going.

Still, SAFe Sounds Complicated. Does It Pay Off?

Let’s admit it; when you look at SAFe processes for the first time, everything is blurry after a couple of sentences. What is a train, what does a Scrum Master do, and how do you ensure that everyone knows their roles? These are just some questions in an array of others. Don’t worry, with a professional SAFe consultant, it’ll get much easier. But even if you are going to figure out how to profess SAFe on your own, it still pays off. Here are some benefits that Plavno has noticed after converting to SAFe:

  • Aligned business strategy and execution. You no longer waste time and resources to achieve the wrong goals, even if you have tons of cross-functional teams.
  • Focus on collaboration. You are all in the same boat, and regular meetings allow every train or team to acknowledge the progress, risks, blockers, and dependencies of one team from another.
  • Transparent processes. Everyone is aware of the plans and processes that are easy to monitor and adjust if necessary.
  • Every team member understands their role and goal in the company, which streamlines collaboration and facilitates goal accomplishment.
  • Flexibility to manage anything. It doesn’t really matter what industry you come from, SAFe can always be adjusted to catalyse new and timely achievements.
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Vitaly Kovalev

Vitaly Kovalev

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