Glossary: SAFe

Glossary: Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe


Scaled Agile Framework, or SAFe®,  is a framework, which provides guidance for applying on the five core competencies. Those help organizations become a Lean Enterprise.

  1. Lean-Agile Leadership
  2. Team and Technical Agility
  3. DevOps and Release on Demand
  4. Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering
  5. Lean Portfolio Management

The creator of the framework is Dean Leffingwell who is Chief Methodologist at Scaled Agile, Inc.

Even it looks very complex, SAFe helps introduce Agile into different types of companies. Therefore there are multiple SAFe configurations that need to be considered thoroughly to apply in the company:

  • Essential SAFe is great for small companies that develop a product with multiple teams and features split among them.
  • Portfolio SAFe for companies that develop a larger portfolio consisting of multiple products.
  • Large Solutions SAFe for teams who create a solution from multiple portfolios.
  • Full SAFe, very complex products.

Scaled Agile Framework 4.6

The framework is fully described on the Scaled Agile Framework pages.

Copyright © Scaled Agile, Inc.

What is Agile Release Train

An Agile Release Train, or ART, is a long-lived, self-organized team that plans, commits, and executes together. Agile Release Train is a long-term team of team with a maximum size of 150 people.

ART is a virtual organization of multiple teams. Ideally, 10 teams at maximum are assigned to the Agile Release Train. It is a cross-functional team of teams responsible for the delivery of large business value defined by epics, their capabilities, features, and user stories.

ART connects teams who work on the same product, but different parts of it. There are dependencies that are the most consumer-type of relations. The whole ART is planning iterations, so-called Program Increments, in the Innovation and Planning iteration.

Teams are assigned to the ART with full-time capacity.

Agile Release Train

Agile Release Train usually supports one Value stream of the company, while the value stream can be supported by multiple ARTs at the same time.

Agile Release Train is led by the Release Train Engineer (RTE) who supports the self-organization of the RTE with help of ART’s Scrum Masters. RTE collaborates with Product Management and Sofware Architect roles.

ART continuously improves their way of working in regular Inspect & Adapt (I&A) sessions and embraces the Agile Manifesto principles.

  • The schedule is fixed.
  • A new system increment every two weeks.
  • The Program Increment timebox is fixed – All teams on the train are synchronized to the same PI length (typically 8 – 12 weeks).
  • The train has a known velocity.
  • Agile Teams.
  • Dedicated people.
  • Face-to-face PI Planning.
  • Innovation and Planning (IP).
  • Inspect and Adapt (I&A).
  • Develop on Cadence. Release on Demand.

Copyright © Scaled Agile, Inc.

What is Program Board?

The Program Board is a visual summary of features or goals, deadlines and any cross-team dependencies that should be delivered by Agile Release Train.

The program board is built in the Program Increment Planning session in which all ART’s team plan, estimate and prioritize features.

program increment board