Hi Folks, Many times I encountered an assignment where multiple teams were working together to deliver large enterprise class software following SAFe .Experiencing SAFe Framework I believe that everyone should know four levels SAFe.

Here I am going to describe about SAFe and its four levels – team, program, value stream and portfolios.

What is SAFe ?

The scaled Agile Framework which is commonly known as SAFe is a freely available knowledge base of designed pattern of an organization where employee build the large scale enterprise-class software and systems. It supports initiatives where hundreds or more member are contributing.

It not only helps business to face challenges regarding the development of software in a short period of time but also helps them in scaling lean and agile practice. It is an agile framework which helps to solve the different problem like alignment and collaboration while scaling multiple team.

Need of SAFe 

1. When multiple team face problem delay etc.
2. Independently working of team is required .
3. At the time of scaling agile in an organization.
4. While improving development lead time.

Comparison between SAFe and other Agile Practice

1. Easily available.
2. Free to use.
3. Commonly and constantly used agile practice.
4. More transparency at all levels.
5. Timely feedback for better improvement and quality.

The Four levels of SAFe are– team, program, value stream and portfolios.


Team –

At this layer we have an agile team consist of 5 to 10 people which works like a cross functional scrum team to deliver working system in a two week sprint which is called iteration timebox. They are accountable to deliver results that meet the Customer’s needs and expectations. The Product Owner manages the Team Backlog.

The iteration starts with the planning meeting where they decides what user stories to deliver by the end of each iteration .Team give demo of work done to the product owner just to make sure that they delivered what was needed.

Finally the team review and plan for the next iteration. The Scrum Master facilitates the team to deliver its objectives and helps them to build a high-performing and self-managing group.

Program –

The program level is almost same, we have a team having multiple teams ranging from 50 to 125 people working together which also includes development teams and other stakeholders. This team of team is called Agile Release Train or ART. The ART timebox its effort into Program Increments divided into 5 iteration.

Product manager/ Program Manager defines the content of the program backlog in the form of features which are generally derived from Epics at Portfolio level. The ART is governed by Release Train Engineer or Program Manager who actually plays the role of scrum master and looks that train runs smoothly.

In each Program Increment all member gather and decide the vision and features for the upcoming PI. They plan how to achieve objectives while depending on other teams and provide visibility to the business owner. To make sure there is sufficient architectural runway to support upcoming user and business needs there is a bi-weekly meeting and system demo at the end of each iteration which is facilitated by the System Architect.

The final planning is called innovation and planning iteration where actually three thing are done- firstly demo of their accomplishment then retrospection as how this can improve and finally plan next PI.

Value Stream –

The value stream is an option level designed for organization whose solutions generally need multiple ARTs or who are independent and large in size. At this level Solution management to manage the content of the program. A Solution Architect provide good architecture whereas Value Stream Engineer act as a guide and coach.

The value stream also runs on same common PI iteration as ARTs does. . It includes Pre-and Post-PI Planning meetings where work is synchronized by system and Solution Demo.

Value stream not only helps in guiding dependencies but also exploit the opportunities in a portfolio.

Portfolios –

The portfolio level is a collection of value stream with which funding is required to build the solutions. Program Portfolio Management are accountable to deliver the business results by deriving strategic themes from the Enterprise strategy.

They also manage cross value stream initiatives which impact several solutions in the form of Epics. It is the highest level of concern in SAFe. The portfolio provide the core piece for arranging the Enterprise flow of value.


So finally it is clear what exactly SAFe is and how it ultimately function. Coaching plays important role and helps team to understand the basic principles and best practices of SAFe.

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Four Levels Of SAFe Everyone Should Know

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