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A part of the Introduction to SAFe® series, this article will give an overview of SAFe Configurations

SAFe® or the Scaled Agile Framework enables the complete range of Value Stream development. To achieve this, SAFe comes with four built in or out-of-the-box configurations. We have given highlights of the configurations below.

Please read SAFe for Lean Enterprises – Scaled Agile Framework to get more information. The diagram below showcases how the four configurations work together

Below we have explained each configuration briefly

Essential SAFe

The Essential SAFe is the base configuration. And as such, is the most accessible form of SAFe. It has the least number of artifacts, events and roles needed to operate and Agile system. This configuration uses the Agile Release Train (ART) structure to organize and enhance business flow. Teams working in in remote or international business environments can also this configurations.

Essential SAFe is best suitable for a single program with about 50-120 people and around 10 Agile teams. That is why it has 2 layers – Team and ART. Please note that using essential SAFe will definitely have benefits. However, using only essential SAFe will not lead to business Agility – This is why the top Green bar showing Business Agility is missing in this section.

Only 4 of the seven core competencies and Few of the Spanning palette elements are necessary for essential SAFe. However, the ART is free to leverage other competencies or Spanning palette elements.

Large Solution SAFe

The Large solution SAFe is a more advanced configuration than essential SAFe. It offers a wider range of practices, roles and guidance for huge and complex solutions. The configuration builds upon Essential SAFe and adds the enterprise solution delivery competency. This new addition enables those who need several ARTs and suppliers to achieve more intricate results. This configuration also uses all the elements of Spanning Palette. However, this configuration is limited to the solution and enterprise, or portfolio constructs are not included. It is often used by locomotive, government, aerospace and defense organizations. There are 3 layers in this configuration – Team, Program and Solution.

The Solution Train used here synchronizes the efforts of multiple ARTs and suppliers, allowing larger-scale businesses to incorporate Agile practices. This configuration focusses on governing the solution itself not the portfolio or enterprise governance. Due to this reason, top blue ribbon of Business Agility is missing.

Portfolio SAFe

This configuration adds the Lean portfolio management, organizational agility and continuous learning culture. This configuration provides the minimum requirements for a portfolio or an enterprise to operate in Agile manner. This is the Reason we can see the Blue Business Agility section at the top. The section also describes the “measure and grow” apprach to quantifying the progress. This configuration uses 3 layers – Team, Program and Portfolio

Portfolio execution is the highlight for this configuration. Enterprise strategy and organization are developed around one or more value streams while assisting portfolio strategy and investment funding. Lean Portfolio management and Agile governance principles guide, the value stream and ARTs to achieve the required results. These principles also help with deciding the suitable level of investment.

Full SAFe Configuration

The Full SAFe configuration is the largest and most encompassing configuration. This configuration includes all seven core competencies. Most often very large companies use Full SAFe configuration to maintain and govern their portfolios and/or complex solutions. It may incorporate several smaller configurations of SAFe running alongside it. This configuration uses all four layers – Team, Program, Solution and Portfolio.