Five competencies of the lean enterprise

Scaling Agile & Lean with SAFe 4.6

Nick Karlsson
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Agile has been a success on a project level, and now is scaling to an enterprise-wide level. Scaled Agile Framework, commonly abbreviated as SAFe is a solution that helps companies in scaling agile and lean. In this article, you will learn all about lean-agile leadership, technical agility and teams, and lean portfolio management.

With the success of agile on a project level, organizations are now exploring ways to implement agile at an enterprise-wide level.

Scaled Agile Framework, commonly abbreviated as SAFe is a solution that helps companies in scaling agile and lean. It is a leading framework that renders benefits such as increased productivity and improved quality of products & services.

SAFe is an approach to implement agile across larger, multi-team programs and portfolios. It is also used when it becomes challenging to align the business departments across the program and at team levels.

SAFe 4.6 introduces five competencies of the Lean Enterprise. Here are the 5 competencies:

  • 1. Team and Technical Ability
  • 2. Lean-Agile leadership
  • 3. DevOps and release on demand
  • 4. Providing business solutions and lean system engineering
  • 5. Lean portfolio management


Technical Agility and Team

As per SAFe 4.6, a team is said to be agile when they have required skills to build, test and deploy in short iterations. The team works with a mix of two different approaches such as Kanban and Scrum.

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The sprint is a small time frame where the specific work has to be completed to make it ready for review. It has short user stories and Kanban is used to identify the bottlenecks in the sprint. The teams use ART (Agile Release Train) to collaborate with other team members. The members of ART integrate, plan, deploy, release and learn together. The team has a high-level understanding of ART objectives.

Technical Agility:

Technical Agility works on the principles and practices which are used to deliver quick and reliable solutions. It is built on the following list of features:

  • Lean-Agile values and principles
  • eXtreme Programming
  • Practices
  • Behavior-Driven Development
  • Agile modeling
  • Proven approaches
  • Object-oriented software design
  • Built-in-quality

The essential maintenance and release readiness are dependent on features that impact code quality, bug removal, and critical factors.

The lean-agile leadership

This lean-agile approach uses the right approach to start and sustain any organizational change. It is done to attain operational excellence. The leaders play a vital role in improving the system through the implementation of Safe’s agile values and principles.

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Lean-Agile leaders have a deeper knowledge of lean and they can train others on lean daily if required. These leaders are responsible for creating guidelines for high performing agile teams.

The Agile Manifesto can help the team imbibe and embrace a thinking lean culture.

DevOps and Release on Demand

The practices and principles of DevOps enable the release of a high-quality product which is customer-driven. It focuses on making business efficient by improving results and sharing responsibility by aligning operations, information security, and development. There are four dimensions to decide the value drawn which includes continuous exploration followed by continuous integration which leads to continuous deployment and release on demand.

Lean systems engineering and solutions

The Scaled Agile Framework works on various modules such as requirement analysis, functional analysis, allocation verification, validation, design alternatives, trade studies, modeling, simulation, business capability definition. It has a flow-based process and roadmaps to guide for continuous development. This helps in reducing time to market.

Lean Portfolio Management

Portfolio management includes agile portfolio operations, fund investments, and lean governance. It is used to improve the lead time to ensure a shorter time to market. It works on how to implement lean by implementing agile portfolio operations.

SAFe 4.6 addresses the challenges faced while scaling agile and it gives guidelines to ensure a successful implementation of Scaled Agile Framework. Once the 5 competencies are developed within an organization, scaling agile and lean will be a cakewalk.


Nick Karlsson

Nick Karlsson is a QA Consultant with over 10 years of experience in enabling QA teams for IT projects. He has helped ISVs in implementing agile testing methodologies in 20+ countries. He plays an instrumental role in releasing high-quality software to the market.

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