I recently attended the newest SAFe training: SAFe 4.0 to become a Scaled Program Consultant (SPC). After the 4 days of training I spent a few hours reviewing the material, took the exam, and passed it, so I’m officially a certified SPC at this point. I’ve been working with a client who is implementing SAFe, and overall the training instilled a better understanding of what it’s about. It did shed some light on implementation, as much as can be distributed with only 4 days of training. There is already a lot of criticism of SAFe, and I have my own thinking that it’s a midway point between waterfall and agile, knowing that the business really does need to plan and needs to know in advance what will be delivered. That said, that may not be such a bad thing for large enterprises. I don’t see any small(er) companies adopting SAFe as they can be straight agile.
SAFe 4.0 is different than SAFe 3.0. Note that if you’re certified for SAFe 3.0, you need to take additional training to be 4.0 certified. A major addition to the 4.0 release was the addition of the Value Stream layer. By definition this value stream level “supports builders of large and complex solutions that typically require multiple ARTs (Agile Release Trains), as well as the contributions of Suppliers. This level is most often used by enterprises that face the largest systems challenges, building large-scale, multidisciplinary software and cyber-physical systems”. The definition doesn’t really let me understand what a value stream really is, however. It’s a very abstract and ethereal definition. After training, I’m thinking value stream can be similar to a product. However, if it’s a very small product that may not work and you’ll have to rethink how you’re making money within the company. A major difference from SAFe 3.0 is that now the value streams are funded. This is interesting to me: funding the development of a product, vs the need to do a project. I absolutely agree with this approach to instead fund a whole product, stop funding projects. This is only one of the many differences between SAFE 3.0 and 4.0, but I did want to highlight it as the addition of the value stream is big.
As I get more down and dirty within this implementation we’ll see how it goes, understanding that the first couple tries will always be a bit rough until teams get adjusted to the new way of working.