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What Business Leaders Need to Know About SAFe 6.0

By Contegix

The last three years have radically transformed work. Between increased pressure to operate faster, the proliferation of AI technologies, and the adjustment to dispersed workforces, the novel business challenges organizations face today look different than they did in early 2020, when Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) 5.0 was released. To help organizations address new hurdles, SAFe 6.0 debuted earlier this year. 

SAFe is a set of industry-leading organizational practices and guidelines for businesses seeking to implement agile methodologies at scale. SAFe provides a framework for organizations to manage and coordinate large software development projects involving multiple teams, stakeholders, and departments. Since the launch of SAFe 1.0 in 2011, Contegix has helped several organizations implement SAFe methodologies with Atlassian tools like Jira and Confluence, improving agility in business operations. 

Updates to SAFe 6.0 fall within its newly updated core values: alignment, transparency, respect for people, and relentless improvement. The updates to these values include changes in terminology and practices that are designed to help organizations become more adaptable amid these times of rapid change.  

What’s New in SAFe 6.0:

The new themes of SAFe 6.0 connect to three central areas of business operations:

1. Business growth and development

In recent years, many organizations have found themselves needing to increase speed across business operations in order to adapt to rapidly shifting conditions and deliver the shorter response times customers now expect. Unfortunately, increasing speed isn’t as straightforward as accelerating business transactions: leaders need to ensure that a higher speed is supported by agile workflows and solid communication.

To support this process, SAFe 6.0 introduced the Business Agility Value Stream. This concept underlines how business agility supports value flow, the processes by which a business delivers value to customers. The Business Agility Value Stream is a pathway meant to help businesses jump on timely opportunities as they arise, and adapt value streams to changing circumstances. For instance, a bank would be able to release a mobile banking app more quickly with greater business agility using the framework, resulting in additional value that keeps customers loyal. SAFe 6.0 also defines eight properties of value flow, and adds corresponding recommendations for improving flow. 

In addition, SAFe’s foundational documents now address business agility and speed in greater detail. Updated core values—alignment, transparency, respect for people, and relentless improvement—connect overarching goals of business agility to daily operations. Changes to the SAFe Foundation integrate the lean-agile mindset into more of SAFe’s essential practices, and the expansion of the Foundation’s associated articles offer more detailed instructions for utilizing this leaner mindset. 

2. People and responsibilities

Today, dispersed workforces are the norm at many organizations, which have introduced new collaboration and communication challenges. And recently, several businesses across industries like tech and media have experienced significant staffing changes amid economic turbulence

To support value flow and improve communication during evolving work conditions, SAFe 6.0 aims to align team members around their role in agile operations. Clarification and additional details in several individual role articles provide specific guidance for each player in an organization’s SAFe configuration, from the Product Owner to the Release Train Engineer.  

Measurement is a powerful tool that helps leaders see growth and recognize opportunities for improvement. In addition, measurement allows organizations to identify bottlenecks and improve processes more efficiently. To support effective project tracking and communication, all configurations of SAFe now include an expanded framework for measurement. Objectives and key results (OKRs), an agile goal-setting tool, have been newly added to SAFe. No matter what SAFe configuration your organization chooses, robust measurement tools now come baked-in. 

3. Workflows and technology

Adaptability is an essential skill set for business success today. To help organizations become more adaptable, SAFe 6.0 emphasizes business agility, or “the ability of your entire organization to respond to change with speed and relative ease.” SAFe made revisions to several articles connecting agile values and business goals through team workflows. 

Business agility depends on digital transformation. As technological development continues to accelerate, businesses need to continue to adapt to new tools, including AI, big data, and cloud technologies. Atlassian, for example, introduced machine-learning powered functions to work management tools such as Jira and Confluence in 2020. 

New articles in SAFe 6.0 address the ways in which these technologies have changed work practices, and how they can be harnessed to increase business agility. Understanding how business agility helps organizations prepare for market turbulence and changes in technology can help your team get the most out of your SAFe configuration.  

Making SAFe Work At Your Organization

The articles, terminologies, and structures that make up SAFe offer several routes to deployment. To select and deploy the SAFe configuration that makes sense for your organization, consider working with a trusted partner. 

As an Atlassian Platinum Support Partner, Contegix can help organizations implement SAFe with industry-leading Atlassian tools. Our experts have facilitated every part of the SAFe implementation process, whether selecting a configuration, onboarding teams across the organization, or monitoring and supporting ongoing use. 

Contact us to learn more about SAFe 6.0.