SAFe Solutions: What Is Difference Between SAFe and Agile?

SAFe Solutions: What Is Difference Between SAFe and Agile?


Did you know that more than 70 percent of organizations have adopted Agile? It shouldn’t be that surprising, given that Agile has benefits for teams and businesses alike.

If you’re thinking about getting on board the Agile train, you might be wondering how you can adopt it. To that end, you’re looking at all the different frameworks you could adopt.

There’s a lot of terminology in this area, which can lead to confusion. Many wonder about Scrum, or about SAFe and Agile.

What are the differences between SAFe and Agile? This guide will help you understand both, and what either can do for your business.

What Is Agile?

Agile started out as a method of developing software. It’s a huge contrast to the “traditional” method of development. Traditional methods focus on building monolithic software, then moving on to the next version.

That results in big, bulky software that you have to build up from scratch to update. It also means working on parts in order. It takes time, sometimes even years, to develop software.

In today’s lightning-paced environment, that approach doesn’t make sense. You need to be able to update your software on the fly. Agile emphasizes working in smaller “chunks,” completing tasks on short turnarounds.

As a result, Agile tends to build in a more modular way. That allows teams to update parts of programs, without rebuilding the whole thing. That means improvement to your app is constant.

It’s the difference between waiting years between version releases and getting an update for an app every couple of weeks. Under Agile, teams work quickly to develop products that can be shipped.

Agile also allows organizations to be more responsive. What happens if you’ve been building your new software for years, but someone else beats you to market? Your release would be “behind the times.”

You also wouldn’t be able to respond to changes in technology. Using an Agile approach lets you change on the fly, adopting new technology as it becomes available.

You can see how this method can be generalized to apply to almost anything in business. You could work on a marketing plan or new product development this way too.

What Is SAFe?

Now that you know the origins of Agile and how it works in business, you want to know what SAFe is. How does it compare to Agile?

SAFe stands for Scaled Agile Framework. It’s one of the approaches you can adopt when it comes to incorporating Agile into your day-to-day operations.

Since SAFe is an Agile framework, it shares a lot of features with Agile. The idea that you want to focus on team working intensively on small parts of larger projects, with frequent deliverables, is common to both. Agile and SAFe both emphasize constant improvement.

SAFe takes an economic view of planning. It applies systems thinking and assumes variability in projects, with an eye to preserving options. It looks to synchronize teams with cross-domain planning.

It also looks to make decision-making processes more decentralized. That means giving individual team members more flexibility and control. In turn, they’ll be more motivated. Integrated learning cycles are also key.

What Are the Differences Between SAFe and Agile?

As you can see, SAFe and Agile have a lot in common. There’s a fundamental difference between SAFe and Agile, though.

Agile is a framework or paradigm, meaning it’s more of an abstract concept. SAFe is a specific application of Agile principles.

In this sense, SAFe is better compared to Scrum and other frameworks. Agile is the overarching philosophy that binds them all together.

Agile is like the theory, while SAFe is the application of that theory. Agile is an idea, while SAFe is how it works in practice.

SAFe also works to reduce some of Agile’s weaknesses. One of the key differences is who should be using SAFe.

By design, SAFe is more scalable than other Agile frameworks like Scrum. Scrum works best for small teams and organizations with simple structures.

If your organization has a more complex structure, then SAFe is likely a better fit. Most experts recommend SAFe for teams more than 100 strong.

SAFe’s focus on decentralized decision-making is a major part of what makes it more scalable. Since it also emphasizes cross-domain planning, it can accommodate more complex organization hierarchies.

Training for SAFe

Another difference is that you can get specific training for frameworks like SAFe and Scrum. If you just want to adopt Agile, there are not really any approved courses.

To that end, you’ll likely end up picking a framework like SAFe. You can get SAFe Agile training and certification, which means you can become an expert to apply this particular method.

Is SAFe the Right Agile Method for Your Business?

As noted, SAFe is just one of many different Agile methodologies out there. It might be the right choice if your organization is large or has a complex structure. If you need teams across several departments to work together, then SAFe might be the right choice for you.

If you have a small organization or a flat structure, then you may want to look at other frameworks. Something like Scrum or Kanban may be a better fit for your organization.

It’s important to note that all Agile frameworks have their strengths and weaknesses. Scrum isn’t necessarily better than SAFe. If you have a large organization, you might find adopting Scrum challenging.

It may not work for you. In this case, SAFe might be the better option. A smaller organization might find SAFe doesn’t address their needs the way Scrum might.

The best thing to do is compare popular frameworks and decide which one works best for your needs.

Set Your Business up for Success

Now you know about how SAFe and Agile are similar and different from each other. SAFe could be the right Agile framework to adopt for your business in 2021.

Looking for more great business tips? You’re in the right spot! Check out our archives and discover the advice that will help your business grow.

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