SAFe 5.1 - news from the Scaled Agile Framework

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Almost exactly one year ago, version SAFe® 5.0 was released by Scaled Agile, Inc.® (SAI). It is great to see how SAI reacts to feedback from implementations worldwide and incorporates this into the framework.

Now version 5.1 is waiting in the wings from 10.2. Today, 28 January, SAI is releasing the trainer enablement for the trainings changed to 5.1 worldwide. All SPC's can now get to grips with the content in order to benefit from the improvements. Here is an overview:

At first glance it looks like a facelift of the Big Picture, but if you take a closer look you will soon realise that there have been some changes under the bonnet.

Adjustments have been made to the Big Picture that provide more clarity through better visualisation or that were not yet present on the picture, although the topics are already part of the framework. The changes mainly affect the Portfolio Level, as well as the Essential Level of the Big Picture.


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The fact that only one "Value Stream" was visible in the Portfolio Level, although we distinguish between "Operational-Value Streams" and "Development-Value Streams" often led to confusion. Version 5.1 clarifies this by including separate icons for the value streams in the big picture. In the original place we find the "Development-Value Streams", which contain the steps and the participants that provide solutions for the customer. The connection between "Development-Value Streams" and "Solutions" is now underlined with an additional, new icon for the Solutions on the Big Picture.

Alongside the Business Agility we find the icon for the Operational-Value Stream, which represents the steps and participants that deliver the value to the end-user that is created with the help of the Development-Value Streams.

The method of "Participatory Budgeting" was already included in the framework with version 5.0, but was not considered on the Big Picture until now and has now made its way onto the overview as an icon with version 5.1.

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On the Essential level, there are various adjustments that provide more clarity, such as the graphic redesign of the "Continuous Delivery Pipeline", which emphasises that the activities "Exploration", "Integration" and "Deployment" are not a sequential sequence that is run through once in the PI, but that it is about three independent components of the CDP that run continuously and parallel to each other. The misunderstanding that "release on demand" should happen at the end of the PI is also dispelled by a better visualisation. The new big picture nicely shows that as soon as new features are ready to be released, they can be released to realise value for the customer as quickly as possible.

The limitations of PI increment are no longer emphasised as much. So the SAI emphasises that the focus is on continuous flow and that a PIPE is exactly what it is, a planning event for the next iterations.

It is nice that a few old problems have been removed. For example, the word "Program" is finally no longer on the Big Picture and the merging of the Team level and Program levels, which we still remember from SAFe 4.6, into the Essential level is finally complete.

The icon of the "Solution" that we develop with an ART has been updated on the Big Picture. This is only logical, as the new icon has been used in various articles and training materials since 5.0.

More profound is the adaptation of the DevOps icon and concept. Here, it is no longer just the Mindset & Culture part of DevOps that is hidden, but there is a new article that describes DevOps key techniques and tools and integrates the topic of "end-to-end security" visually, which is reflected in the design of the icon.

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A subtle, but nevertheless very remarkable change can be found in the Agile teams. It has been known for a long time that Agile teams do not necessarily have anything to do with programming. SAFe 5.0 has taken this into account by removing the "Dev" from the Development Team and instead placing a list of domains (Business | Dev | Ops | Support) under the Agile Team. With 5.1 the enumeration has become simpler, now we only see Business and Technology under the Agile Team. The exciting thing is behind the link, a new "Business and Technology" landing page. In the Business section, we find information on agile business domains such as "Agile Marketing", "Agile HR" or "Agile Contracts". Information that could also be found on the SAI website before. In the Technology section, however, there is something new in addition to the familiar software articles: an article on agile hardware development. This is so exciting because the hardware sector has not been in the focus of agile development so far due to its longer product cycles and the idea of developing hardware agilely is only now slowly gaining acceptance. There are now several examples that agile development also makes sense in the hardware sector. A development that will certainly pick up speed.

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Another exciting update, which you can only see if you open the bonnet, are the ideas from the book "Team Topologies" by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais, which have been incorporated into various articles. Up to now, a distinction has only been made here between component teams and feature teams. That was a bit too short, now 4 concrete patterns ("Stream-aligned team", "Complicated subsystem team", "Platform team" and "Enabling team") are presented, how teams and ARTs are best cut to deliver customer value on the one hand, but on the other hand technical and organisational framework conditions are taken into account.

The updates to the SAFe framework incorporate the latest exciting new developments from the world of agile and product development into the framework. Regardless of the perspective from which we view the framework, as a decision-maker who is responsible for a transformation, as an RTE or SPC who accompanies the transformation, or as an employee who is in the middle of the transformation, it is worth keeping up to date here.

This is how we develop a "Continuous Learning Culture" which is necessary to adapt quickly enough to our ever-changing world.

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