MY Opinion in Why SAFe is the best Scalable Agile Framework
WHY SAFe IS THE BEST SCALABLE AGILE FRAMEWORK
Hi guys, this week I want to explain why I believe SAFe is the best Scalable Agile Framework.
Last week I had a chance to participate at a MeetUp where the main topic was LeSS. As you might know, LeSS is one of these new fancy scaling frameworks, or at least this is how they sell it.
I want to be very clear, I am not a SAFe consultant, and I do not get any commission from SAFe. I had an opportunity to work for a couple of years with a company that implemented SAFe, and I believe SAFe will be the most successful framework. Some time ago I wrote a blog post about the topic “Why SAFe will succeed” but today I would like to elaborate a bit more.
SAFe, LeSS, NEXUS and many others frameworks are sold as “scaling” frameworks. Are they allowing companies to scale anything? The way how I see it is that they are frameworks that enable parallel work. Let´s be very clear: THIS IS NOT SCALING!!! THIS IS GROWING!
Some time ago I attended the conference where I listened to the speech of a CEO of the Munich-based company. He was super proud describing to the audience how his company scaled from 10 teams to 100 teams. I just wanted to say out loud: “This is not scaling, it is growing!”
For you to understand what I mean by this saying, I found an excellent definition of both terms in fundable.com:
Growing means you are adding resources at the same rate that you’re adding revenue. This model occurs constantly in professional services business models – they gain a client, hire more people to service the client, and add revenue at the same exact rate at which they’ve added more costs. While they’ve technically “grown,” they haven’t scaled.
On the other hand, scaling is about adding revenue at an exponential rate while only adding resources at an incremental rate. Google has clearly demonstrated this concept by adding customers at a quick pace while adding very few additional resources to service those customers. That’s why they were able to increase their margin at a rapid rate in just a few short years.
Are you able now to figure out why all these frameworks do not solve any scaling problems? But then again who can blame them? They just create solutions the market wants after all everyone wants to have a recipe.
Everyone intends to have a silver bullet to solve all the problems, but unfortunately, this is not possible, and sooner or later companies that implement this kind of frameworks will realise they spent millions for nothing.
In my opinion, if you want to scale you need to identify the constraints in the whole chain and see what is preventing you from having the 10x impact in your actions. This is only possible if you have a framework that looks at the organisation in a holistic way. A framework that takes end to end implementation, system thinking, flow, and theory of constraints into consideration.
So let´s take a look at three different frameworks.
Which of these frameworks is:
- Paying attention to the whole system and not only to the software development part?
- Helping to identify the overall flow, value chain and the end to end implementation?
- Connecting company strategy with daily operations?
- Taking a holistic view of the whole organisation?
Yes, SAFe does that.
Why SAFe is the best Scalable Agile Framework
SAFe has its many problems. I do not like how SAFe takes care of DevOps/System Team. And especially I do not like how SAFe supports functional teams instead of cross-functional teams.
But for example, SAFe integrates portfolio management that no other framework does. In my opinion, this is one of the big enablers for business scalability. Johanna Rothman wrote a fantastic book explaining the benefit of portfolio management in our companies if you have time take a look at it right here.
The truth is much more painful than what companies want to accept… There are no frameworks that will solve your problems. Frameworks might be a good starting point, and I believe SAFe with the right coaches is one of the best places to start.
You can start with functional teams instead of cross-functional teams. My experience tells me that you will have dependencies all over the place. And you will be far from being truly Agile (cross-functional teams), but it is a place to start.
With good coaches on board, they will be able to map all dependencies. They will be able to coach the organisation to do the necessary changes to move to a truly cross-functional company. And they will be able to implement improvements along the way.
SAFe is one of the frameworks connecting all the dots… With the right coaches, SAFe will make a difference. In my vision, the other frameworks only do parallel work not solving any scaling issue.
I know this blog post is quite polemic, but this is my opinion. Do you want to start a discussion? Simply leave a comment.
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