Agile Architecture is a set of values and practices that support active evolution of the design and architecture of a system, while implementing new system capabilities.
Agile Release Train (ART)
The Agile Release Train (ART) is a long-lived and cross-functional team-of-Agile-teams, which along with other stakeholders, develops and delivers solutions incrementally, using a series of fixed-length Iterations within a Program Increment (PI) timebox. The ART aligns teams to a common business and technology mission.
The SAFe Agile Team is a cross-functional group of five to ten people who have the ability and authority to define, build, and test some element of Solution value—all in a short Iteration timebox. Specifically, the SAFe Agile Team incorporates the DevTeam, Scrum Master, and Product Owner roles.
The Architectural Runway consists of the existing code, components and technical infrastructure necessary to support implementation of prioritized, near-term features, without excessive redesign and delay.
Built-in Quality practices ensure that each Solution element, at every increment, meets appropriate quality standards throughout development.
Business Owners are a small group of stakeholders who have the primary business and technical responsibility for governance, compliance, and Return on Investment for a Solution developed by an Agile Release Train (ART). They are key stakeholders on the ART who must evaluate fitness for use and actively participate in certain ART events.
CapEx and OpEx
Capital Expenses (CapEx) and Operating Expenses (OpEx) describe Lean-Agile financial tracking practices in a Value Stream budget. In some cases, CapEx may include capitalized labor associated with the development of intangible assets—such as software, intellectual property, and patents.
Communities of Practice (CoPs)
Communities of Practice (CoPs) are organized groups of people who have a common interest in a specific technical or business domain. They collaborate regularly to share information, improve their skills, and actively work to advance the general knowledge of the domain.
In SAFe, Compliance refers to a strategy, and a set of activities and artifacts that allow teams to apply Lean-Agile development methods to build systems that have the highest possible quality, while simultaneously assuring they meet any regulatory, industry, or other relevant standards.
Continuous Deployment (CD)
Continuous Deployment (CD) is the process that takes validated features from Continuous Integration and deploys them into the production environment, where they are tested and readied for release. It is is the third element in the four-part Continuous Delivery Pipeline of Continuous Exploration (CE), Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Deployment and Release on Demand.
Continuous Exploration (CE)
Continuous Exploration (CE) is the process of constantly exploring market and user needs, and defining a Vision, Roadmap, and set of Features that address those needs. It is the first element in the four-part Continuous Delivery Pipeline, preceding Continuous Integration (CI) Continuous Deployment (CD), and Release on Demand.
Continuous Integration (CI)
Continuous Integration (CI) is the process of taking features from the Program Backlog and developing, testing, integrating, and validating them in a staging environment where they are ready for deployment and release. It is the second element in the four-part Continuous Delivery Pipeline, as shown in Figure 1.
The four Core Values of alignment, built-in quality, transparency, and program execution represent the fundamental beliefs that are key to SAFe’s effectiveness. These guiding principles help dictate behavior and action for everyone who participates in a SAFe portfolio.
Customers are the ultimate economic buyer of every Solution. They are an integral part of the Lean-Agile development process and Value Stream, and have specific responsibilities in SAFe.
The Dev Team (Dev Team) is a subset of the Agile Team. It consists of the dedicated professionals who can develop and test a story, feature, or component. It typically includes software developers and testers, engineers and other dedicated specialists who are required to complete a vertical slice of functionality.
DevOps is a mindset, a culture, and a set of technical practices. It provides communication, integration, automation, and close cooperation among all the people needed to plan, develop, test, deploy, release, and maintain a Solution.
Develop on Cadence
Develop on Cadence is a strategy for managing the inherent variability in solution development by making sure important events and activities occur on a regular, predictable schedule.
The Economic Framework is a set of decision rules that aligns everyone to the financial objectives of the Solution, and guides the economic decision-making process. It contains four primary constructs: Lean Budgeting, Epic funding and governance, decentralized economic decision-making, and job sequencing based on the Cost of Delay (CoD).
Enablers promote the activities needed to extend the architectural runway to support future business functionality. These include exploration, infrastructure, compliance, and architecture development. They are captured in the various backlogs and occur at all levels of the framework.
The Enterprise represents the business entity that has the ultimate strategic, fiduciary, and governance authority for all the Value Streams and Solutions that make up a SAFe portfolio.
The Enterprise Architect fosters adaptive design and engineering practices, and drives strategic architectural initiatives for a SAFe Portfolio. Enterprise Architects also facilitate the reuse of ideas, components, services, and proven patterns across various Solutions in a portfolio.
Epic Owners are responsible for coordinating portfolio epics through the Portfolio Kanban system. They define the Epic, its Minimum Viable Product and lean business case, and when approved, facilitate implementation.
Features and Capabilities
A Feature is a system service that fulfills a stakeholder need. Each feature includes a benefits hypothesis and acceptance criteria, and is sized or split as necessary to be delivered by a single Agile Release Train (ART) in a Program Increment (PI). A Capability is a higher-level solution behavior that typically spans multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs). They are sized and split into multiple features so that they can be implemented in a single PI.
Innovation and Planning Iteration
The Innovation and Planning Iteration occurs every PI and serves multiple purposes. It acts as an estimating buffer for meeting PI objectives, as well as providing dedicated time for innovation, continuing education, and PI planning and Inspect and Adapt (I&A) events.
Inspect & Adapt (I&A)
The Inspect and Adapt (I&A) is a significant event, held at the end of each Program Increment (PI), where the current state of the Solution is demonstrated and evaluated. Teams then reflect, and identify improvement backlog items via a structured, problem-solving workshop.
Iterations are the basic building block of Agile development. Each iteration is a standard, fixed-length timebox during which Agile teams deliver incremental value in the form of working, tested software and systems. They may last from one to four weeks, with two weeks as the suggested and most common duration.
Iteration Execution is how Agile teams manage their work throughout the iteration timebox, resulting in a high-quality, working, tested system increment.
Iteration Goals are high-level summaries of the business and technical goals that the team agrees to accomplish in an iteration. Serving as a primary communication mechanism within the team, as well as to the team’s stakeholders, they help ensure alignment with the PI objectives.
Iteration Planning is an event where all team members determine how much of the team backlog they can commit to delivering during an upcoming iteration. The team summarizes the work as a set of committed iteration goals.
The Iteration Retrospective is a regular meeting where Agile Team members discuss the results of the iteration, review their practices, and identify ways to improve.
The Iteration Review is a cadence-based event where each team inspects the increment at the end of every iteration to assess progress, and then adjusts its backlog for the next iteration.
Large Solution Level
The Large Solution Level contains the roles, artifacts and processes needed to build large and complex solutions. This includes a stronger focus on capturing requirements in Solution Intent, the coordination of multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and Suppliers, and the need to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
Lean Budgets is a set of practices that minimizes overhead by funding and empowering Value Streams rather than projects, while maintaining financial and fitness-for-use governance. This is achieved through objective evaluation of working systems, prudent management of Epic investments, and dynamic budget adjustments.
Lean Portfolio Management (LPM)
Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) is a function that represents the individuals with the highest-level of decision-making and financial accountability for a SAFe portfolio. This group is responsible for three primary areas: strategy and investment funding, Agile program guidance, and Lean governance.
Lean User Experience (Lean UX)
Lean User Experience (Lean UX) design is a mindset, a culture, and a process that embraces Lean-Agile methods. It implements functionality in minimum viable increments, and determines success by measuring results against an outcome hypothesis.
Lean and Agile Principles
SAFe is based on nine immutable, underlying Lean and Agile Principles. These are the fundamental tenets, basic truths, and economic premises that inspire and inform the roles and practices that make SAFe effective:
Lean-Agile Leaders are lifelong learners who are responsible for the successful adoption of SAFe and the results it delivers. They empower and help teams build better systems by learning, exhibiting, teaching and coaching SAFe’s Lean-Agile principles and practices.
The Lean-Agile Mindset is the combination of beliefs, assumptions, and actions of SAFe leaders and practitioners who embrace the concepts of the Agile Manifesto and Lean thinking. It’s the personal, intellectual and leadership foundation for adopting and applying SAFe’s principles and practices.
Metrics are agreed-upon measures used to evaluate how well the organization is progressing toward the portfolio, large solution, program, and the team’s business and technical objectives.
Milestones are used to track progress toward a specific goal or event. There are three types of SAFe milestones: Program Increment, fixed-date, and learning milestones.
Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)
Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) is the practice of developing a set of related system models that help define, design and document a system under development. These models provide an efficient way to explore, update, and communicate system aspects to stakeholders, while significantly reducing or eliminating dependence on traditional documents.
Nonfunctional Requirements (NFRs)
Nonfunctional Requirements (NFRs) define system attributes such as security, reliability, performance, maintainability, scalability, and usability. They serve as constraints or restrictions on the design of the system across the different backlogs.
The Portfolio Backlog is the highest-level backlog in SAFe. It provides a holding mechanism for the upcoming Business and Enabler Epics intended to create a comprehensive portfolio solution set, one that provides the competitive differentiation and/or operational efficiencies necessary to address the Strategic Themes and facilitate business success.
The Portfolio Kanban is a method used to visualize and manage the analysis, prioritization and flow of portfolio epics from ideation to implementation and completion.
The SAFe Portfolio Level contains the guidance, practices and roles needed to initiate and govern a set of development value streams. It provides the strategy and investment funding for people and resources, Agile program guidance, and Lean governance.
Pre-and Post-PI Planning
Pre- and Post-PI (Program Increment) planning events are used to prepare for, and follow-up after, PI Planning for Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and Suppliers in a Solution Train.
Product Owner (PO)
The Product Owner (PO) is the content authority for the team level. They are responsible for the team backlog, prioritizing and accepting stories, and representing the customer to the Agile team.
Product and Solution Management
The Product Management role has content authority for the Program Backlog. They are responsible for identifying customer needs, prioritizing features and developing the program Vision and Roadmap. In a similar manner, Solution Management has the content authority for the Solution Backlog. They work with Customers to understand their needs, create the Solution vision and Roadmap, define requirements, and guide work through the Solution Kanban.
Program Increment (PI)
A Program Increment (PI) is a timebox in which an Agile Release Train (ART) delivers incremental value in the form of working, tested software and systems. PIs are typically eight to twelve weeks long, and the most common pattern for a PI is four development iterations, followed by one Innovation and Planning (IP) iteration.
Program Increment (PI) Planning
Program Increment (PI) planning is a cadence-based, face-to-face event that serves as the heartbeat of the Agile Release Train (ART), aligning all the teams on the ART to a common mission and vision.
The Program Level contains the roles and activities needed to continuously deliver solutions via an Agile Release Train (ART).
Program and Solution Backlog
The Program Backlog is the final state in the Program Kanban, which is also the last state of Continuous Exploration. It’s the holding area for a prioritized list of Features that have been analyzed and are intended to address user needs and deliver business benefits for a single Agile Release Train (ART). It also contains the Enabler features necessary to build the Architectural Runway. The Solution Backlog is the holding area for upcoming Capabilities and Solution enablers, each of which can span multiple ARTs, and are intended to advance the Solution and build its architectural runway.
Program and Solution Kanban
The Program and Solution Kanban systems are methods used to visualize and manage the flow of value from ideation to analysis, implementation, and release. They support the flow of features and capabilities through the full Continuous Delivery Pipeline of Continuous Exploration, Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, and Release on Demand.
Refactoring is the activity of improving the internal structure or operation of a code or component without changing its external behavior.
Release Train Engineer (RTE) and Solution Train Engineer (STE)
The Release Train Engineer (RTE) is a servant leader and coach for the Agile Release Train (ART). The RTE’s major responsibilities are to facilitate the major events and processes, and assist the teams in delivering value. RTEs communicate with stakeholders, escalate impediments, help manage risk, and drive continuous improvement. The Solution Train Engineer (STE) plays an equivalent role for a Solution Train, facilitating and guiding the work of all ARTs and Suppliers in the Value Stream.
Release on Demand
Release on Demand is the process by which features deployed into production are released incrementally or immediately to Customers based on market demand.
The Roadmap is a schedule of events and milestones that communicate planned Solution deliverables over a timeline. It includes commitments for the planned Program Increment (PI) and offers visibility into the deliverables forecasted for the next few PIs.
SAFe Implementation Roadmap
The SAFe Implementation Roadmap consists of an overview graphic and a twelve-article series that describes a strategy and an ordered set of activities that have proven to be effective in successfully implementing SAFe.
SAFe Program Consultants
SAFe Program Consultants are change agents who combine their technical knowledge of SAFe with an intrinsic motivation to improve their company’s software and systems development processes. They play a critical role in successfully implementing SAFe. SPCs come from numerous internal or external roles, including business and technology leaders, portfolio/program/project managers, process leads, architects, analysts, and consultants.
SAFe Scrum Masters are servant leaders and coaches for an Agile team. They help educate the team in Scrum, eXtreme Programming, Kanban and SAFe, ensuring that the agreed Agile process is being followed. They also help remove impediments, and foster an environment for high-performing team dynamics, continuous flow, and relentless improvement.
ScrumXP is a lightweight process for cross-functional, self-organized teams to deliver value within the context of SAFe. ScrumXP combines the power of Scrum project management practices with extreme programming technical practices.
Set-based Design is a practice that keeps requirements and design options flexible for as long as possible during the development process. Instead of teams choosing a single “point” solution upfront, set-based design identifies and simultaneously explores multiple options and eliminate poorer choices over time. It enhances flexibility in the design process, commits to technical solutions only after validating assumptions, and produces better economic outcomes.
Shared Services represents the specialty roles, people and services necessary for the success of an Agile Release Train (ART) or Solution Train, but that cannot be dedicated full-time.
Each Value Stream produces one or more solutions, which are products, services, or systems delivered to the Customer, whether internal or external to the enterprise.
Solution Context identifies critical aspects of the operational environment for a Solution. It provides an essential understating of requirements, usage, installation, operation, and support of the solution itself. Solution context also heavily influences opportunities and constraints for Release on Demand.
The Solution Demo is where the results of development efforts from the Solution Train (e.g. multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and the contributions from Suppliers) are integrated, evaluated, and made visible to customers and other stakeholders.
The Solution Train is the SAFe organizational construct used to build large and complex Solutions that require the coordination of multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs), as well as the contributions of Suppliers. The Solution Train aligns ARTs to a shared business and technology mission using a common Solution Vision, Backlog and Roadmap, and an aligned Program Increment (PI) cadence.
Spikes are a type of exploration Enabler story in SAFe. Originally defined within XP, spikes are used for activities such as research, design, investigation, exploration, and prototyping.
A Supplier is an internal or external organization that develops and delivers components, subsystems or services that help Solution Trains deliver Solutions to their customers.
The System Demo is a significant event that provides an integrated view of new features for the most recent iteration delivered by all the teams in the Agile Release Train (ART). Each demo provides ART stakeholders with an objective measure of progress during a program increment.
The System Team is a special Agile team that provides assistance in building and using the Agile development environment, including continuous integration, test automation and continuous deployment. The System Team assists with the integration of assets from Agile teams, performs end-to-end Solution testing where necessary, and assists with deployment and release.
System and Solution Architect/Engineer
The System Architect/Engineering role represents an individual or small team that defines a common technical and architectural vision for the Solution under development. They participate in defining the system, subsystems, and interfaces; validate technology assumptions; and evaluate alternatives. They help align the Solution Train and the Agile Release Train (ART) to a common technological and architectural vision.
The Team Backlog contains user and enabler stories that originate from the program backlog, as well as stories that arise locally from the team’s specific context. It can contain other work items as well, representing all the things a team needs to do to advance their portion of the system.
Team Kanban is a method that helps teams facilitate the flow of value by visualizing work flow, establishing work-in-process limits, measuring throughput, and continuously improving their process.
The Team Level contains the roles, activities, events and processes through which Agile teams build and deliver value in the context of the Agile Release Train (ART).
Test first is a Built-in Quality practice derived from eXtreme Programing (XP). If focuses on building the tests before the implementation to improve delivery by focus on the results.
Value Stream Coordination
Value Stream Coordination provides guidance for managing dependencies across value streams in a portfolio.
Value Streams represent the series of steps that an organization uses to build Solutions that provide a continuous flow of value to a customer. SAFe Value Streams are used to define and realize Portfolio business objectives and organize Agile Release Trains (ARTs) to deliver value more rapidly.
The Vision is a description of the future state of the Solution under development. It reflects customer and stakeholder needs, as well as the features and capabilities proposed to meet those needs.
Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)
Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) is a prioritization model used to sequence “jobs” (e.g., Features, Capabilities, and Epics) to produce maximum economic benefit. In SAFe, WSJF is estimated as the cost of delay divided by job size.
Last Update: 19 Jun, 2017