SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) provides a structured and hierarchical approach to scaling Agile, aligning teams across the organization to a common set of goals. It introduces the concept of Agile Release Trains (ARTs), which are dedicated teams of Agile teams that work together to deliver value in a coordinated manner. SAFe incorporates Lean principles and continuous feedback loops to ensure customer-centricity and optimize the flow of value.

Enterprise Alignment and Coordination

SAFe provides a structured framework that aligns Agile teams with strategic business objectives. The concept of Agile Release Trains (ARTs) synchronizes efforts across teams, fostering enterprise-wide collaboration and streamlining value delivery.

Governance and Compliance Support

SAFe incorporates built-in governance and compliance practices, catering to industries with strict regulatory requirements. This ensures that organizations can meet compliance standards while still benefiting from Agile practices.

Predictable Delivery and Program Increment Planning

SAFe's Program Increment (PI) Planning ensures predictability in delivery by aligning teams on a shared vision and plan for the upcoming iterations. This cadence enhances product quality and reduces risks associated with large-scale development efforts.

The 12 steps for implementing SAFe

Blueprint Strategy
1. Reaching the tipping point
2. Train lean-agile change agents
1_Best practices
3. Train executives, managers, and leaders
4. Create a lean-agile centre of excellence
Organization insights
5. Identify value streams and ARTs
6. Create the implementation plan
7. Prepare for ART launch
illustrations-spot-Atlassian Book_1 1
8. Train teams and launch the ART
9. Coach the ART execution
10. Launch more ARTs and value streams
11. Extend to the portfolio
12. Sustain and improve


LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) takes a more minimalist and team-centric approach to scaling. It focuses on simplifying the organizational structure, promoting self-managing teams, and minimizing unnecessary processes. LeSS principles encourage direct communication, collaboration, and decentralized decision-making to foster adaptability and innovation.

Simplified Organizational Structure

LeSS simplifies organizational structure by focusing on self-managing, cross-functional teams. The removal of unnecessary roles and hierarchy reduces bureaucracy, leading to faster decision-making and increased agility.

Enhanced Customer Focus and Continuous Improvement

LeSS places a strong emphasis on customer-centricity. Teams are encouraged to work directly with customers, gaining valuable feedback to improve the product continuously. Regular retrospectives ensure ongoing process improvement.

Streamlined Decision Making and Reduced Dependencies

With fewer roles and a decentralized decision-making approach, LeSS reduces dependencies and handoffs. Teams can make quicker decisions, leading to faster development cycles and a higher capacity to respond to customer needs.

Comparison of SAFe and LeSS


Aspect SAFe LeSS
Focus Scalability and Alignment Simplicity and Empirical Process
Organizational Level Enterprise-wide Team-based
Roles Hierarchical structure with specific roles Minimalistic roles and hierarchy

Guidance on Framework Selection

Selecting the most suitable scaling framework, whether it's SAFe, LeSS, or another, is a critical decision for an organization's Agile transformation. To determine the best fit for their specific needs, organizations should consider several factors:

Company Size

For larger organizations with multiple teams and complex interdependencies, SAFe might be a more suitable choice due to its structured and hierarchical approach. On the other hand, LeSS might be a better fit for smaller organizations with fewer teams, as it promotes a more minimalist and team-centric approach.

Industry and Project Complexity

Industries with high compliance requirements, such as healthcare and finance, may find value in SAFe's extensive guidance on governance and compliance. LeSS, with its focus on simplification, may be more appropriate for industries with less stringent regulatory constraints.

Existing Agile Maturity

Assess the organization's current Agile maturity level. If the organization is already practicing Scrum or Kanban at the team level, Scrumban could be an attractive transition to a scaled Agile framework. For those with advanced Agile practices and a willingness to embrace significant change, SAFe or LeSS might be more appropriate.

Organizational Culture

Consider the organization's culture and its readiness for change. SAFe's structured approach might be better received in organizations that are more accustomed to formalized processes, while LeSS's emphasis on self-management could be a better fit for organizations with a culture of empowerment and autonomy.

Integration with DevOps

Both SAFe and LeSS can be effectively integrated with DevOps practices, creating a seamless end-to-end Agile delivery pipeline. DevOps emphasizes continuous integration, continuous delivery, and automated testing, ensuring faster time-to-market and high-quality releases. When combined with SAFe or LeSS, DevOps complements the Agile framework by enabling efficient collaboration between development and operations teams. It streamlines the deployment process, reduces manual handoffs, and ensures faster feedback loops, leading to a more reliable and efficient software delivery process.

Organization insights

Scaling in Regulated Industries

Scaling Agile in regulated industries requires careful adaptation to meet compliance requirements while maintaining Agile values. Both SAFe and LeSS can be adapted to comply with strict regulations. To satisfy regulatory bodies, organizations should focus on transparency, documentation, and traceability. Engaging compliance experts and integrating compliance activities into the development process can ensure alignment with regulations without sacrificing Agile principles. Furthermore, SAFe's built-in compliance guidance and LeSS's focus on simplicity make them valuable options for regulated industries seeking to scale Agile effectively.

Challenges and Mitigation Strategies

Change Management

Resistance to change is common when transitioning to a scaled Agile framework. To address this, engage in effective change management practices, involve stakeholders early in the process, and communicate the benefits of Agile transformation to gain buy-in.

Siloed Mindset

Overcoming departmental silos and fostering collaboration can be challenging. Encourage cross-functional communication and collaboration through regular ceremonies, workshops, and team-building exercises.

Scaling Bottlenecks

As the organization scales, bottlenecks may emerge. Implement Lean principles to identify and address bottlenecks, visualize workflow, and apply the principles of flow to optimize the value stream.

Training and Coaching

Invest in comprehensive training and coaching for teams and leaders to ensure a shared understanding of the framework and its principles. Empower Agile coaches to guide teams through the transformation journey.

Unlocking Enterprise Agility with Jira Align

Discover the power of Jira Align in unlocking the full potential of SAFe and LeSS at the enterprise level. Jira Align seamlessly aligns Agile teams with strategic business goals, ensuring cohesive collaboration across the organization. For SAFe implementations, Jira Align's Program Increment (PI) Planning capabilities provide a centralized platform for synchronizing teams and defining objectives, leading to predictable delivery and improved program outcomes. In LeSS, Jira Align's flexibility and adaptability allow organizations to create self-managing teams and streamline decision-making, driving innovation and customer focus. Embrace Jira Align and unleash enterprise agility, scaling your SAFe and LeSS initiatives with ease, while ensuring alignment and success in your Agile transformation journey. 


Your point of contact:

Sarah Antrop

Agile & Scrum Consultant

Sarah Antrop
SAFe, LeSS, Jira Align

Atlassian Enterprise Platinum Solution Partner

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