Could anybody share whether SAFe has helped practically scale agile development in bigger organizations.

Is there any other similar methodology or best practices document that could help with agile in bigger organization - projects with 100+ members.


6 Answers 6


I'm really not convinced by SAFe at all - I think it's too prescriptive and not nearly agile enough. It also encourages focus on vanity metrics that really don't mean much.

I think the best way to scale Agile in an enterprise is to allow teams to evolve independently and create a culture of sharing learning.

To solve the problem of portfolio management/dependency management or programme delivery across a large organsiation assign the responsibility to a strong programme manager who will cover the breadth of the organisation; Establish them as the defacto 'transient' PMO. close this PMO when the programme has completed.

All you need to present to senior leaders is a weekly one-line status for each workstream including Red, Yellow, Green; progress against stated milestones and any blockers (Top Risks and Issues).

This is the method I used at a large online global US based retailer and am using at a large global UK based physical/online retailer.

This paper also alludes to a similar method used by Spotify to implement agile at scale: this model on scaling agile at Spotify: http://ucvox.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/113617905-scaling-agile-spotify-11.pdf


Ken Schwaber, one of the initial signers of the Agile Manifesto, in his blog post recommends to Unsafe at Any Speed and states that SAFe is a "reincarnation" of RUP or even Waterfall.


There are 10s of Scaling frameworks available. I personally have only seen SAFe, LeSS, and Spotify in action. SAFe is the most popular agile scaling framework. and works particularly well in organisations with lower risk appetite for their agile transformation. Usually, in agile transformations, more pain means more gain. And little pain means little gain. I have seen fantastic SAFe implementations with great results.

By saying this, I'll be offending some anti-SAFe people. Well I'm myself both a Certified LeSS practitioner and a SAFe program consultant. I keep my emotions out and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of frameworks objectively.

Now we must also consider that all frameworks are the starting point and organisations need to evolve beyond frameworks. For more information on this, please read on the Shu-Ha-Ri model and how to start with a framework and move to the right approach for your entire enterprise.

I do publish a lot of articles. If you are interested to know more about Agile and Scaling please see my blog here: https://sprintagile.com.au/blog/.


I found Ken Rubin's Keynote at this year's Global Scrum Gathering in New Orleans to be a useful and thought-provoking presentation on scrum at scale https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcePFHD_p70

His presentation is available here http://www.innolution.com/uploads/presentations/Economically-Sensible-Scrum-2014-Scrum-Gathering-Ken-Rubin-Innolution.pdf

But I'd recommend listening to him while you follow along with the deck - he has a lot of useful things to say that are not sufficiently captured in his slides


Yes (it depends), let me share in brief summary that I believe there is a case to be made several years later from when you originally asked this question that I believe its fair to revisit.

Based on my experience SAFe is currently best used by non tech and legacy corporations which typically experience the most challenge when looking to change to "this way of working" aka "being agile" or trying "scale agile" It a framework that I've learned is sort of scrum with enforcement of processes, event to extend visibility, coordination and alignment across a company.

Also, I agree with general sentiment that SAFe can feel somewhat prescriptive as well as use their training catalog as a main cog in their business model.

However, in the case of the typical companies that are looking for this framework as a solution to implement - it general supports the environment (e.g. upskill employees, support change management) in which it being applied in. hope that helps.

Examples of "Big Companies" that leveraged SAFe to scale agile Big Companies Leveraging SAFe:

  • Cisco
  • LEGO Digital Solutions
  • Playstation
  • Fitbit
  • Royal Phillips

Today, there are several other frameworks as well designed to support scaling agile, here are a few to reference and learn more about Scaled Agile Frameworks example 1 Scaled Agile Frameworks example 2

  • Scrum at Scale (SaS)
  • Scrum of Scrums (SoS)
  • Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)
  • Nexus
  • Disciplined Agile (DA)
  • Spotify

SAFe is the most popular scaling framework by far and probably the one I would consider investigating further. We have used it at a handful of clients and all have been happy with the results. It really helps with alignment of various teams so they can work together better and deliver consistently.

It is good for multiple teams working on the same Program, or if you have lots of competing business requirements for the same development team.

The website has a ton of free resources. I'd also be happy to talk off-line about my experiences in more detail.

  • 1
    What's your basis for saying it's "the most popular scaling framework"?
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 22:21

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