Making SAFe Lean

  • Rally Development 135 Lake St. Suite 100 Kirkland, WA, 98033 United States

Presented by Al Shalloway

Many in the Agile community are blasting SAFe as a heavy weight process.  Unfortunately, SAFe is often implemented as a heavy process because people take what they learn from the standard courses and apply it by rote.  However, SAFe does not need to be heavy at all.  But to make it lightweight, one must differentiate between the framework part of SAFe and the practices within that framework.  The framework can be thought of as:

  • Prioritizing work across the portfolio and organizing it to be implemented efficiently across a program by coordinating teams

  • Managing the amount of work in process

  • Making all work visible

  • Following Lean Management principles

  • Pushing decisions down as far as possible in the organizational hierarchy

  • Attending to the entire value stream with appropriate team structures and roles

The main practices of SAFe include:

  • Scrum at the team level

  • 10-14 week release plans done over 2 days done by all of the people in the release train

  • Identification of dependencies and risks over this time period during the planning event

  • Having architectural epics be managed by an enterprise architect to create an overall view

This talk discusses how the benefits of SAFe's holistic framework (which is not heavy) can be combined with lightweight practices other than those prescribed to achieve a lighter weight, corporate wide Agile framework.  This is useful both for creating a better implementation of SAFe than we often see as well as making SAFe applicable to companies which have trains smaller than 50 people.


Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With over 40 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, SAFe, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas. Al is a SAFe Program Consultant Trainer as well as a co-founder of Lean Kanban University (no current affiliation) and the Lean Systems Society of which is he a current board member. Al has developed training and coaching methods for Lean-Agile that have helped Net Objectives' clients achieve long-term, sustainable productivity gains. He is a popular speaker at prestigious conferences worldwide. He is the primary author of books on design patterns, enterprise agile, scrum and agile design. Al has worked in literally dozens of industries over his career. He has a Masters in Computer Science from M.I.T. as well as a Masters in Mathematics from Emory University.

Earlier Event: September 2