SAFe 4.5 Goes Live: Top 5 Reasons to Update
About 18 months ago, we launched SAFe 4.0, a major upgrade that delivered innovations for Lean software and systems engineering. It represented a major milestone of maturity for the Framework, and has enjoyed widespread popularity, including being named the #1 scaling framework by VersionOne’s State of Agile Report.
That tells us we were on the right track. But digital disruption is driving innovation at speeds we’ve never seen before, so while enterprises have been busy practicing SAFe, we’ve been busy making sure that the Framework continues to keep pace with emerging development and technology trends.
And so, today we are delighted to announce the release of SAFe 4.5! It’s a reflection of field research from hundreds of implementations, feedback from our customers and community, and new advances made in the knowledge pools upon which SAFe is built. As you learn more, we believe you’ll find 4.5 to be leaner, more Agile, and better at fostering faster innovation and learning than any of its predecessors.
SAFe’s name gets a makeover
We like to think of SAFe as a big tent framework that can accommodate any organization, regardless of size or complexity. As you know, SAFe isn’t just about IT, systems, and software. It’s part of a larger solution development picture, and we absolutely want to be sure that message is front and center for our internal and external business partners, as well as the community at large. So we’ve updated its name to reflect this more inclusive theme. The Framework is now known as SAFe for Lean Enterprises.
Top 5 Reasons to Update to SAFe 4.5
SAFe 4.5 delivers advancements in configurability, implementation guidance, and enhanced capabilities for improving the user experience and accelerating time-to-market. Below is a short summary of the primary enhancements to SAFe; for the in-depth view please refer to Whats New in SAFe 4.5.
- Additional flexibility with four new configurations: SAFe 4.5 supports the full range of development environments, from the simplest to the most complex. As the needs of the organization grow, SAFe is able to scale to meet those challenges. SAFe now comes with four out-of-box configurations, starting with ‘Essential SAFe,’ the entry point for organizations that want to start realizing the benefits as soon as possible. A click of the mouse will configure ‘Portfolio SAFe,’ adding portfolio-level concerns, including strategy and investment funding, Agile program guidance, and Lean governance to the picture. ‘Large Solution’ SAFe is for those building really big systems that take multiple Agile Release Trains and Suppliers to build. And finally ‘Full SAFe,’ for the larger enterprises that wants to achieve all the benefits of the truly Lean and Agile enterprise.
- Faster innovation with the Lean Startup Cycle and Lean UX : The integration of Lean startup practices and Lean UX in SAFe fosters an environment where investments start as a hypothesis in the form of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and feedback is introduced as early as possible to test ideas and make decisions more quickly. If the hypothesis plays out, additional features then make their way through the respective backlogs. If not, fast learning allows the business to pivot to a more desirable solution—and quickly.
- Accelerated new feature delivery with Scalable DevOps and Continuous Delivery Pipeline: Of course, you can’t likely get the feedback you need if you can’t move all those new ideas into production more quickly. To that end, the centerpiece of SAFe 4.5 is the integration of the Lean ‘hypothesis-build-measure-learn’ cycle with Scalable DevOps and a Continuous Delivery Pipeline. These new SAFe mechanisms enable the organization to continuously define and deliver solution elements to the end user, without large handoffs or excessive operations overhead. The result is a production environment that is able to deliver value more frequently, where hypotheses can be tested against their intended business outcomes, and where the deployed solution has both the flexibility and robustness needed to deliver more innovative solutions, far more quickly. You may well be a big enterprise, but you can innovate, and SAFe 4.5 can help show you how.
- Improved guidance with the SAFe Implementation Roadmap: We can all admit that becoming a SAFe Lean-Agile enterprise is quite a journey, and a significant organizational change. To that end, we’ve provided new guidance in the form of a 12 article series, the ‘SAFe Implementation Roadmap.’ Based on proven organizational change management strategies and extensive field experience, the Roadmap describes the critical moves that an enterprise can take to achieve early wins and sustainable long-term gains with SAFe.
- SAFe 4.5 is fully backwards compatible. And finally, here’s some additional good news: If you are already on a SAFe 4.0 journey, SAFe 4.5 is backwards compatible. All the features in 4.0 that you’ve come to depend on are still in place. You can adopt the advanced practices of SAFe 4.5 at your own pace, and derive the additional benefits without rocking the boat of your current implementation.
Click here to get the full rundown of the new features.
In addition to the new 4.5 content, all the 4.0 articles have been updated as well, so there is much more to learn, and gain. For those of you who are certified, you’ll find a What’s New in SAFe 4.0 video on the SAFe Community Platform that will help you learn about the new features, and upgrade your certification so that you can support enterprises seeking SAFe 4.5 implementation.
SAFe Version 4.0 Available Through June, 2018
We encourage you to update to SAFe 4.5 to take advantage of the new features, but recognize that there are enterprises that will need the 4.0 version for some time to come. SAFe 4.0 will be supported throughout June, 2018, and remains available at v4.scaledagileframework.com.
Three courses from Scaled Agile’s role-based curriculum have been already updated to reflect the new features of SAFe 4.5. They include: Implementing SAFe, Leading SAFe, and SAFe for Teams. The remaining courses will be updated over the coming weeks.
It is our sincere hope that this new version helps you and your enterprise achieve the benefits you all deserve for working so hard at building the world’s biggest, and best, software and systems.
We owe a special thanks to you, our SAFe community, for all your feedback and support. Your passion for the best SAFe possible has driven us to deliver what we like to think of as the most adaptable—and now configurable—framework in the world.
We do all this simply because ‘better systems make the world a better place.’
—Dean, Richard, Inbar, and the entire team from Scaled Agile
Dean Leffingwell, Creator of SAFe, Chief Methodologist
Richard Knaster, SAFe Fellow and Principal Consultant
Inbar Oren, SAFe Fellow and Principal Consultant