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Achieving Organizational Agility With the Upgraded SAFe 5.0

By Elizabeth Clor

As the workforce evolves in response to an increased reliance on technology, fast-paced innovation and global interconnectedness, teams across industries are transforming their business models and technological infrastructure to operate more efficiently. Establishing business agility—the adoption of agile practices across all teams, not just software development—is key for businesses to stay competitive and scale in the current climate. This ethos became the focus for the latest upgrade to the Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprises (SAFe), version 5.0, which includes organizational and workflow patterns used to guide enterprises in scaling lean and agile practices. 

SAFe 5.0, launched last year, includes seven core competencies that help organizations scale agile practices. The competencies are: team and technical agility, agile product delivery, enterprise solution delivery, lean portfolio management and lean agile leadership. Organization agility and continuous learning culture are two new competencies that were introduced with the upgrade.  

With these framework additions and other system upgrades, including the ability to measure progress, SAFe 5.0 is better poised to help its users bring more agility to operations, scale their enterprise and thrive in fast-moving markets. To optimize the use of the framework, organizations should understand these system changes before integrating them. A trusted IT solutions provider can offer expert insight to make integration efficient, drive the implementation process with existing project management software, like Jira, and assist with fine-tuning workflows so teams can immediately hit the ground running toward business agility. 

New Competencies that Drive Business Agility   

To help users achieve business agility, Scaled Agile Inc added Continuous Learning Culture to its framework of competencies. The idea is that by committing to continuous learning, teams will be able to keep pace with technological innovation, the competitive business market and expectations from new generations of workers and customers. The competency is broken down into three parts: learning organization, innovative culture and relentless improvement. Under these principles, an enterprise achieves a continuous learning culture when: employees are encouraged to prioritize learning so the organization can transform, employees contribute innovative ideas that propel the enterprise into the future and employees at every part of the organization are committed to improving its processes. 

After teams are committed to learning about changes within the market and customer priorities, Scaled Agile believes an organization's competitive advantage lies within its ability to quickly appeal to new customer demands and evolve its operational structure to seize emerging opportunities. Organizational agility was also adopted in SAFe 5.0. This competency includes three dimensions: lean-thinking people and agile teams, lean business operations and strategy agility. Under these dimensions, employees at every level of the organization are trained in lean and agile methods so they can apply these principles to improve processes across teams, and as a result, the organization can easily pivot strategy when the marketplace has new demands. 

These framework additions bolster the capabilities of SAFe 5.0. Whether a team already utilizes SAFe or is considering integrating for the first time, working with an IT partner can help organizations with additional oversight during transformation and ensure workflows are set up to benefit from the promise of these new competencies.  

Evaluate Progress with Measure and Grow

The route to achieving business agility is a challenging feat for an organization to take on. Once users begin following the framework, knowing where they stand in their progress is crucial to a successful transformation. To assist teams in evaluating their effort and understanding next steps for improvement, SAFe 5.0 launched a Measure & Grow function. 

The function includes two assessments, one high-level assessment: SAFe Business Agility Assessment, which was created for portfolio stakeholders to assess the overall progress on achieving business agility, and one technical assessment: SAFe Core Competency Assessments, which are used to help teams improve technical and business practices that help the portfolio achieve its goal. 

Routinely completing the business agility assessment allows stakeholders to establish a baseline and track improvement throughout their transformation. And each competency assessment completes with growth recommendations that teams can take action on, either by reading an article or attending a course. By participating in both assessments organizations can celebrate milestones on their journey toward business agility and keep users motivated in the process. 

The Measure and Grow function keeps teams across the organization accountable for their part in scaling agile. With help from an IT solutions partner, organizations can assure these processes are applied across every team and workflow. 

By implementing SAFe 5.0 within an organization's project management software, like Jira, product teams can disseminate agility throughout the entire enterprise. However, the framework is multifaceted and integration requires time and expertise. Instead of adding this responsibility to internal teams, organizations can partner with a Platinum Atlassian Solution Partner like Contegix, to integrate SAFe 5.0, and effectively achieve business agility within their unique markets, more quickly.

Learn more about how Contegix’s experienced team can help your organization integrate SAFe and achieve business agility.