Many leaders pride themselves on setting the high-level direction and staying out of the details. But big picture, hands off leadership isn’t likely to work in a change situation, because the hardest part of change—the paralyzing part—is in the details.

Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors. To make a switch, you need to script the critical moves.

—Dan and Chip Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

SAFe Implementation Roadmap

This is the home page for the SAFe® Implementation Roadmap series, which consists of 12 articles.

The SAFe Implementation Roadmap consists of an overview graphic and a 12-article series that describes a strategy and an ordered set of activities that have proven to be effective in successfully implementing SAFe.

Achieving the business benefits of Lean-Agile development at scale is not a trivial effort, so SAFe is not a trivial framework. Before realizing SAFe’s rewards, organizations must embrace a Lean-Agile Mindset and understand and apply Lean-Agile principles. They must identify Value Streams and Agile Release Trains (ARTs), implement a Lean-Agile portfolio, build quality in, and establish the mechanisms for continuous value delivery and DevOps. And, of course, the culture must evolve as well.

Based on proven organizational change management strategies, the SAFe Implementation Roadmap graphic and article series describe the steps, or ‘critical moves,’ an enterprise can take to implement SAFe in an orderly, reliable, and successful fashion.


In order to achieve the desired organizational change, leadership must “script the critical moves,” as described by Dan and Chip Heath [1]. When it comes to identifying those critical moves for adopting SAFe, hundreds of the world’s largest enterprises have already gone down this path (see Case Studies), and successful adoption patterns have become clear. A fairly standard pattern is shown in Figure 1.

Coach ART executionTrain Lean-Agile change agentsTrain executives, managers and leadersIdentify Value Streams and ARTsPrepare for ART LaunchValue Stream Workshop ToolkitCreate a Lean-Agile center of excellence (LACE)Business ResultsLeading SAFe for ART StakeholdersSAFe PO/PMSAFe Scrum MasterSAFe for TeamsReaching the tipping pointProgram Increment ToolkitTrain teams and launch ARTProgram Increment ToolkitPI PlanningInspect and AdaptLaunch More ARTs and Value StreamsImplementing SAFe with SPC CertificationExtend to the PortfolioValue Stream Workshop ToolkitSAFe Advanced Scrum MasterSustain and ImproveSAFe Release Train EngineerLaunch More ARTs and Value StreamsIdentify Value Streams and ARTsLeading SAFe with SA CertificationImplementing SAFe with SPC CertificationExtend to the PortfolioSAFe Executive Workshop ToolkitCreate the Implementation Plan

Figure 1. SAFe Implementation Roadmap

While no two adoptions are identical, and there is rarely a perfectly sequential step-by-step implementation in any enterprise, we know that businesses getting the best results typically follow a path similar to that shown in the Implementation Roadmap. It includes the following 12 steps:

  1. Reaching the Tipping Point
  2. Train Lean-Agile Change Agents
  3. Train Executives, Managers, and Leaders
  4. Create a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence
  5. Identify Value Streams and ARTs
  6. Create the Implementation Plan
  7. Prepare for ART Launch
  8. Train Teams and Launch the ART
  9. Coach ART Execution
  10. Launch More ARTs and Value Streams
  11. Extend to the Portfolio
  12. Sustain and Improve

This article serves as a launching pad for you to explore these steps in detail and understand how to apply them to your own implementation.

Moving Forward

Let’s start with the first article: Reaching the Tipping Point.

Best of luck to you and your SAFe implementation. Stay true to these critical moves, and we are confident you will get the business benefits that you desire.


Learn More

[1] Heath, Chip and Dan Heath. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. Crown Publishing Group, Kindle Edition.

[2] Knaster, Richard and Dean Leffingwell. SAFe Distilled, Applying the Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Software and Systems Engineering. Addison-Wesley, 2017.

Additional Resources

Download SAFe Implementation Roadmap PDF

Download SAFe Implementation Roadmap PPT

Last update: 6 October, 2017