SAFe 6.0: Review from a Trainer/Consultant Perspective

  • Scaling Agile
Created on :
March 22, 2023
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
July 13, 2023

SAFe 6.0 is the latest release (15th March 2023) by Scaled Agile, and it comes with several new changes that are geared towards improving the Framework. As a consultant and trainer, I have had the opportunity to review the changes and provide my perspective. One of the critical things to note is that SAFe 6.0 is backward compatible, meaning that the fundamental constructs of the previous versions that aid in meeting delivery remain relevant.

Scaled Agile has grouped the changes in SAFe 6.0 six change themes, namely

1. : Strengthening the Foundation for Business Agility

2. : Empowering Teams and Clarifying Responsibilities

3. : Accelerating Value Flow,

4. : Enhancing Business Agility with SAFe across the business,

5. : Building the Future with AI, Big Data, and Cloud, and

6. : Delivering Better Outcomes with Measure and Grow and OKRs.

Here I explain these themes in brief

1. Strengthening the Foundation for Business Agility

One of the significant changes in SAFe 6.0 is the updates to the foundational aspects of business agility, including the Business Agility Value Stream and SAFe Foundation. These changes clarify the path for navigating the change and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the core concepts of business agility.
The Business Agility Value Stream is a new addition to SAFe 6.0 that helps to provide a clearer depiction of what business agility means. The value stream depicts the steps involved in identifying, validating, producing a minimum viable product (MVP), and delivering a market opportunity to make it viable and profitable. This value stream is beneficial in explaining business agility to participants and provides a more structured approach to delivering business value. However, it is important to note that the example value stream provided may require further extension depending on the business context. For example, in some cases, business agility delivery may involve:

  • Training customer support staff.
  • Developing new partners.
  • Working with the operational Support 

Nonetheless, the Business Agility Value Stream is a valuable addition to SAFe 6.0, making understanding the steps involved in delivering business agility easier.
Another significant change in SAFe 6.0 is the adjustment of the SAFe Foundation. The SAFe House of Lean, which used to talk about Value, Innovation, Relentless Improvement, Respect, Flow and Leadership, has been retired. Retiring SAFe Hours of Lean helps to reduce the duplication of content, making it easier to understand the core concepts of business fundamentals. SAFe 6.0 has also elaborated on the six Lean principles underpinning the framework’s Lean idea. This elaboration provides a more detailed explanation of these principles, making it easier for everyone to understand them.
In particular, the sixth principle of SAFe, which emphasizes flow, has been extended in SAFe 6.0. The new content includes flow diagnosis tools that help organizations better understand and improve their flow. Additionally, this principle is now elaborated at all levels of SAFe, emphasizing its importance to the framework.
SAFe 6.0 has also changed the SAFe Implementation Roadmap and SPC (SAFe Program Consultant) role. The Implementation Roadmap provides critical moves for adopting the framework, and it has been updated to reflect the changes in SAFe 6.0. More implementation toolkits have been added, and roles are further refined. In particular, the role of SPC goes beyond the Implementation Roadmap. SPCs are now expected to coach the flow and accelerate business agility, emphasizing their role’s importance in helping organizations become more agile.

2. Strengthening Teams and Clarifying Roles

SAFe 6.0 introduces new and improved guidance to enhance job performance and support organizational goals. The significant change is that team leaders, previously referred to as Scrum Masters, can now be called by their more generic title, Team Coach. Moreover, the responsibilities of the Team Coach/Scrum Master are now extended to Supporting Iteration Execution, Optimizing flow, Building high-performing teams, Supporting ART Execution, Facilitating PI Planning and Supporting organizational agility.
SAFe 6.0 provides a “Responsibility Wheel” in each role article to better categorize and clarify role areas. This feature makes it easier to understand the various responsibilities of each role. Furthermore, the updated role articles for Product Management, Solution Management, System Architect, and Solution Architect now include key collaborative partnerships needed to enable quick and efficient product development flow. This change clarifies the roles and promotes better collaboration among team members.

3. Accelerating Value Flow

In SAFe 6.0, one of the main focuses is accelerating the flow of value to clients by removing delays and delivering high-quality products and services faster. The updated SAFe Principle #6 introduces eight flow accelerators and defines the eight flow properties. The flow accelerators include:

  • Visualizing and limiting WIP.
  • Addressing bottlenecks.
  • Minimizing handoffs and dependencies.
  • Getting faster feedback.
  • Working in smaller batches.
  • Reducing queue length.
  • Optimizing time “in the zone.”
  • Remediating legacy practices and policies.

SAFe Scrum, SAFe Team Kanban, Built-in Quality, and Value Stream Management articles have incorporated flow into teams’ daily work. These flow accelerators are elaborated at various levels in SAFe, such as team, agile release train, solution train, and portfolio level, to improve flow efficiency and accelerate value flow. For example, at the team level, the flow accelerators are applied to strengthen team flow, and at the portfolio level, they are applied to enhance portfolio flow.

4. Enhancing Business Agility with SAFe across the business

SAFe acknowledges that a Lean-Agile transformation impacts every aspect of an organization. As one area accelerates, it uncovers bottlenecks in others. Hence, for business agility to thrive, everyone in the organization needs to learn how to optimize their work by applying Lean-Agile principles relevant to their context, such as working with small batches, optimizing flow, organizing around value, building-in quality, and adopting systems thinking.
Business & Technology: The updated Business and Technology article highlights five business and technology patterns, including business-enabled Agile Release Trains (ARTs), launching business trains, creating an Agile executive team, applying SAFe to other business functions, and integrating development and operational value streams within the same portfolio.
Moreover, SAFe provides detailed guidelines for Development Value Stream. The SAFe Beyond IT homepage gives access to articles contributed by SAFe professionals that detail their successes and challenges in extending Lean, Agile, and SAFe practices to non-IT business functions such as Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, Legal, and Operations.

5. Building the Future with AI, Big Data, and Cloud

SAFe has introduced new guidance on incorporating three transformative technologies in software and systems development: AI, Big Data, and Cloud. These technologies are increasingly crucial for businesses to compete in the present and future. The articles in SAFe provide detailed explanations of these technologies and demonstrate how they can be applied within the framework.
Big Data is positioned at the Lean Portfolio Management level, where its power can be harnessed for making business decisions and identifying initiatives that advance organizational agility. Cloud is placed at the team level, where its various capabilities can be effectively utilized. Although many organizations may already be using Cloud technology, the SAFe guidance explains how to apply it within the framework.
The AI article applies across all levels and shows the power of AI in decision-making for product development and business agility. While some organizations may already be familiar with these technologies, the SAFe guidance is a valuable technological resource for those who still need to start using them. It also demonstrates how SAFe incorporates these technologies into the framework.

6. Delivering Better Outcomes with Measure and Grow and OKRs Measure and Grow

SAFe has recently updated its Measure & Grow section, which was previously known as the Metrics icon on the spanning palette. The new Measure & Grow content now includes SAFe’s three measurement domains: Outcomes, Flow, and Competency. Previously, there was confusion between the Measure & Grow and Metrics sections. Combining these two sections and emphasising OKRs can help teams better measure their outcomes at the theme, business initiative, or epic level.

There are more changes related to the terminologies used, like now Program Backlog is called ART Backlog, you can check these details in Scaled Agile Official Page on SAFe 6.0

What’s New in SAFe 6.0 – Scaled Agile Framework Work

SAFe strip banner

Name Date Place
SAFe Certification and Training 11, 12 & 18 May 2024 Chennai More Details
SAFe Certification and Training 1, 8 & 9 June 2024 India More Details
SAFe Certification and Training 29, 30 June & 7 July 2024 Bangalore More Details

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