New Essential SAFe 4.5 Guidance Update

New Essential SAFe 4.5 Guidance Update

Essential SAFe SAFe Updates

Howdy Folks,

Last month we released SAFe 4.5 and updated three courses from Scaled Agile’s role-based curriculum. Please see the June 2017 edition of the Scaled Agile Insider for more information on that.  We are now busy updating the rest of our courseware, toolkits and professional development and enablement videos.

Along those lines, we are pleased to release an updated Essential SAFe guidance article based on the new features of SAFe 4.5.

If you’re new to the Framework, you might be wondering, “What is Essential SAFe?” To put it simply, it’s our answer to the frequently asked question, “How closely does an organization need to follow SAFe in order to get the full benefits?” Developed in 2016, Essential SAFe is the most basic view of the Framework and identifies the ten elements necessary to be assured of achieving results. When the enterprise incorporates these elements into each Agile Release Train in their portfolio, they are well on their way to realizing the full benefits of SAFe.

So, what’s new in Essential SAFe?

  • Essential SAFe is now officially part of the Framework!  It’s now one of the four configurations of SAFe.
  • The ‘Agile Teams and Release Trains’ essential element was combined with the ‘Critical Agile Team and Program Roles’ element and is now called ‘Real Agile Teams and Trains.”
  • A new essential element for ‘DevOps and Continuous Delivery Pipeline’ was added.
  • Since there is a new Portfolio SAFe configuration in SAFe 4.5, the portfolio constructs are no longer part of Essential SAFe.
  • Essential SAFe includes a new spanning palette, which contains a limited number of elements. However, you can use any or all of the elements of the larger spanning palette with the Essential SAFe configuration.

There are two essential assets as part of the new guidance article:

1. Essential SAFe 4.5 presentation and self-assessment worksheet.

The new self-assessment can be taken by simply downloading and printing the last page of the above presentation.

2. A downloadable version of the Essential SAFe 4.5 Big Picture in Powerpoint.

The ten Essential SAFe 4.5 elements are:

#1 – SAFe Lean-Agile Principles
#2 – Real Agile Team and Trains
#3 – Cadence and synchronization
#4 – Program Increment (PI) Planning
#5 – DevOps and Releasability
#6 – System Demo
#7 – Inspect and Adapt
#8 – IP iteration
#9 – Architectural Runway
#10 – Lean-Agile leadership

In the near future, SPCs and SPCTs will have additional resources in the SAFe Community Platform in the form of an Essential SAFe Toolkit. When published, it will be available in Performance Tools.

Always be SAFe,
Richard and the Framework team

Author Info

Richard Knaster

comment (11)

  1. Puja

    21 Aug 2017 - 9:32 am

    I loved that you simplified 4 level SAFe, that made it easy for so many people o understand and I can see that a lot more companies will try to embrace it. The DevOPS addition to the framework emphasized the technical aspect very well!

    One question I have is : In order for a SPC4 to teach other SAFe classes, do we need to clear those exams and get certification (SA etc.?)

  2. Michael Van Geertruy

    07 Aug 2017 - 12:27 pm

    Has the SPC test been updated with the 4.5 material, or does it it still reflect pure 4.0 material? When can we expect the SPC 4 test to be updated with the 4.5 material?

  3. Jeff Hallett

    07 Aug 2017 - 8:48 am

    Good changes in 4.5. Will an update to “SAFe Distilled” be coming that reflects these changes? I imagine the change to the Solution level would probably drive most of any required changes in the book.

    • Richard Knaster

      04 Sep 2017 - 10:43 am

      Hi Jeff:

      Yes, we will be updating SAFe Distilled. Please note that SAFe Distilled was written with SAFe 4.5 in mind and covers the majority of content in 4.5. The decision to rename the value stream level to the large solution level was made after the book was in production.
      We do not yet have a production date for the book.


  4. Charlie Brown

    29 Jul 2017 - 7:57 pm

    I love the addition of essential safe to the full framework. It is a bare bones Scaled Agile Framework and can be a place to start where the rest of the organization wants to see something work. The small, medium, large and full models demonstrate that you have a framework that adjusts to most companies, and even various government entities. I taught my first class of SAFe 4.5 and the class loved it.

    • Richard Knaster

      29 Jul 2017 - 9:28 pm

      Hi Charlie:

      Thanks for your feedback. So glad to hear that you liked our updates to the Framework. Congratulations on teaching your first class. I hope to see you at the SAFe Summit.

    • Raj Varma

      25 Oct 2017 - 1:13 pm

      Are you an SPCT or SPC? Would love to connect with you and learn more 🙂

  5. Randy

    27 Jul 2017 - 1:34 pm

    Thank You! for updating and keeping the ‘stack of 10’ – – I’ve used that stack over and over again with all layers of Management and Leadership to convey the answer to that very same question: what do we need to do to get the benefit…

    • Richard Knaster

      27 Jul 2017 - 6:33 pm

      Hi Randy:

      Thanks for you note and for validating that we should keep the stack of essential elements.

      We’re glad that you liked the update.

      Richard Knaster
      SAFe Fellow

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