Understanding the Core Values of SAFe

The world of software development has been taken over by agile methodology since its advent and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon.

Lots of software development companies worldwide have adopted agile and its various forms in a bid to deliver value to a voracious customer base and gain a competitive advantage.

Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, and Crystal agile are agile methodologies that you are apt to hear everywhere you turn.

However, because agile typically works with small teams, it initially proved difficult for large organizations to be able to adopt the methodology.

Due to the numerous benefits of agile, these organizations needed a way to harness it and that led to the creation of SAFe.

SAFe, or the Scaled Agile Framework, is a framework for implementing agile practices at the enterprise level.

It is designed to help organizations scale their agile development processes to meet the needs of complex, large-scale projects.

This post provides insight into SAFe, its benefits, and 4 SAFe core values that can help your organization move in an agile way.

What is the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)?

The world of software development changed in 2001 with the creation of the manifesto for agile software development.

Prior to this, developers and organizations used the traditional waterfall project management approach for the development of software products.

This however left a yawning gap in the creation of solutions to complex problems. A more flexible and adaptable approach was required, hence the introduction of the agile methodology.

The agile methodology is an approach to project management that emphasizes flexibility and adaptability through rapid product delivery and feedback.

It works by using small cross-functional and self-managing teams to break down large projects into smaller chunks or deliverables, prioritizing these deliverables, and executing them in time-boxed iterations called sprints.

The scope of this post isn’t geared to go in-depth into the agile methodology but if you want to learn about agile or brush up on existing knowledge, then this agile project management 101 guide should do the trick.

Since then, agile has changed the software development world and lots of organizations have jumped aboard using various forms of agile

The transformation of some companies to an agile-driven ones however hasn’t been straightforward or easy, especially for large organizations.

Agile is typically for small teams and for large companies to use agile for developing products to drive their overall goal, they have to find a way to scale agile. That’s how SAFe came about.

SAFe, or the Scaled Agile Framework, is a methodology for managing and coordinating large-scale, complex projects using agile principles and practices.

It is designed to help organizations achieve the benefits of agile development at scale, by providing a framework for coordinating the work of multiple agile teams and aligning them with the goals of the larger organization.

SAFe just like agile is based on the Agile Manifesto, and includes additional principles and practices specific to scaling agile to the enterprise level.

It consists of several components, including roles, events, artifacts, and principles, that work together to enable organizations to deliver value to customers quickly and continuously.

SAFe is designed to be flexible and adaptable to the specific needs of an organization and can be used in a variety of industries, including software development, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Its goal is to help organizations achieve faster time-to-market, increased efficiency, and improved collaboration and communication among teams.

Benefits of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

Read Also: Scrum Master vs. Business Analyst. Understanding the Roles and Responsibilities

Benefits of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) aims to help organizations achieve better outcomes by enabling faster delivery of value through coordinated, multidisciplinary efforts.

Some benefits of SAFe include:

1. Improved Coordination and Communication

SAFe promotes the use of agile practices such as regular stand-up meetings and planning sessions, which can help teams stay aligned and communicate effectively.

2. Faster Value Delivery

SAFe emphasizes the importance of delivering value to customers quickly and continuously. This can help organizations stay competitive and meet the changing needs of their customers.

3. Improved Agility

SAFe promotes the use of agile principles such as flexibility and adaptability, which can help organizations respond quickly to changing market conditions.

4. Increased Efficiency

SAFe encourages the use of lean principles, which can help organizations eliminate waste and streamline processes.

5. Higher Employee Satisfaction

SAFe promotes a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement, which can lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement.

Overall, SAFe can help organizations become more agile, efficient, and responsive, leading to improved outcomes and greater success.

SAFe Core Values

What are the SAFe Core Values?

SAFe as a form of agile inherits its values. There are however 4 SAFe core values that guide all decisions and are key to using SAFe successfully.

The values are alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution. We’ll take a more detailed look at each of these values and how the SAFe core values help in stabilizing and accelerating the progress of agile teams.


One of the core values of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is alignment.

Alignment in this context refers to the process of ensuring that all teams, roles, and activities within an organization are aligned with the overall goals and strategy of the business.

This includes aligning work at the team level with the objectives of the larger organization, as well as aligning different teams and departments to ensure that they are working towards a common goal.

Effective alignment is critical for the success of any organization, but it can be especially challenging in large, complex environments where multiple teams are working on different projects and initiatives.

In these situations, it is important to have a clear, shared understanding of the organization’s goals and strategy, and to ensure that all teams are working towards these goals in a coordinated and collaborative manner.

SAFe provides a number of tools and practices to help organizations achieve alignment, including agile planning, value stream mapping, and portfolio management.

By using these tools and practices, organizations can ensure that their teams are working towards a common goal, and that they are making progress towards delivering value to customers.

Overall, alignment is a crucial aspect of the SAFe framework, and is essential for the success of any organization using agile principles and practices at scale.

By ensuring that all teams and activities are aligned with the overall goals and strategy of the business, organizations can increase efficiency, improve collaboration, and deliver value to customers more quickly and continuously.

Built-In Quality

Built-in quality refers to the practice of embedding quality into the development process from the start, rather than trying to add it on at the end.

This means that teams focus on building high-quality products and services from the beginning, rather than trying to fix defects or issues after the fact.

There are several benefits to this approach. First, it helps to reduce the overall cost of quality, as it is less expensive to fix issues during the development process than it is to fix them after the product has been released.

Second, it helps to improve the customer experience, as products and services that are built with quality in mind are more likely to meet the needs and expectations of the customer.

Finally, it helps to increase the efficiency of the development process, as teams can avoid the time and effort required to fix defects or issues that arise later in the process.

To promote built-in quality, SAFe recommends using a number of practices and tools, including continuous integration, automated testing, and code reviews.

By using these practices and tools, teams can ensure that they are building high-quality products and services from the start, and can catch and fix any issues as they arise.

Built-in quality is an important aspect of the SAFE framework as by focusing on quality from the beginning of the development process, organizations can reduce project costs, improve the customer experience, and increase efficiency.


Transparency is a core value of SAFe. It refers to the practice of ensuring that all relevant information is shared openly and transparently within an organization.

This includes sharing information about goals, strategies, plans, progress, and issues, as well as providing visibility into work processes and decision-making.

Transparency is important for a number of reasons. It helps to foster trust and collaboration among team members, as it allows everyone to see what is happening and to understand the reasons behind decisions.

It also helps to improve communication, as it ensures that everyone has access to the same information.

Finally, it helps to increase transparency, as it allows teams to see and understand the impact of their work on the larger organization.

To promote transparency, SAFe recommends using a number of practices and tools, including agile planning, daily stand-ups, and retrospectives.

By using these practices and tools, teams can ensure that all relevant information is shared openly and transparently, and can improve communication and collaboration within the organization.

Program Execution

The SAFe core value of program execution is a guiding principle that emphasizes the importance of delivering value through the effective execution of programs and projects.

This value is centered on the agile principle that the most effective way to drive business outcomes and achieve success is through a focus on delivering working software and other tangible results on a regular basis.

To embody this core value, SAFe recommends several practices and strategies that can help organizations consistently deliver value through their programs and projects. These include:

1. Focusing on Outcome and Value

Rather than simply following a predetermined plan and focusing on comprehensive documentation, SAFe encourages organizations to prioritize the outcomes and value that their programs and projects are intended to deliver.

This means regularly reassessing priorities and adjusting course as needed to ensure that efforts are aligned with business goals and objectives.

2. Embracing a Lean-Agile Mindset

SAFe is built on the principles of Lean and Agile, which prioritize adaptability and continuous improvement over following a rigid plan.

By adopting this mindset, organizations can be more responsive to changing circumstances and better able to deliver value on a consistent basis.

3. Building High-Performing Teams

Successful program execution depends on having teams that are collaborative, aligned, and capable of delivering results.

SAFe recommends a number of practices for building and empowering high-performing teams, including promoting transparency, enabling self-organization, and providing ongoing support and coaching.

Leveraging Lean-Agile Tools and Techniques

SAFe provides a number of tools and techniques that can help organizations effectively execute their programs and projects, including Lean-Agile planning, Agile release trains, and Lean Portfolio Management.

By embracing the SAFe core value of program execution, organizations can achieve greater business agility, drive innovation, and consistently deliver value to their customers and stakeholders.

Benefits of the SAFe Core Values

Benefits of the SAFe Core Values

Without the SAFe core values, agile simply won’t work at scale for organizations. They work together to align the organization, teams, and the overall vision of the organization.

For large teams that want to enjoy the benefits of agile and develop software solutions, SAFe can be very instrumental in focusing on business systems and desired outcomes.

By using SAFe and imbibing these core values, organizations can reap lots of benefits including increased productivity levels, and engagement and efficiency of employees within the organization.


For organizations that want to achieve their set strategic goals by delivering value with the agile methodology at scale need to incorporate the SAFe core values. It aids in the alignment of goals with methods for achieving defined goals.

SAFe is a value-focused method for scaling Agile in large enterprises. It not only assists in meeting organisational goals, but also personal goals.

It provides a centralised framework for value delivery, making the path to organisational success clearer, defined, and consistent, and it also allows for the development of team spirit among teams.

Just as the agile methodology has its values and principles which have to be adhered to in order to actually derive the benefits of agile, similarly SAFe won’t work without these core values in the organizational fabric.

Understanding the potential challenges to Agile framework implementation allows enterprises to work on potential solutions ahead of time, while saving time and money.

David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)
David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)

David Usifo is a certified project manager professional, professional Scrum Master, and a BCS certified Business Analyst with a background in product development and database management.

He enjoys using his knowledge and skills to share with aspiring and experienced project managers and product developers the core concept of value-creation through adaptive solutions.

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