Jan 22nd, 2019

SAFe®️ as an Engagement Framework – The Importance of Alignment

Ashwinee Kalkura
Ashwinee Kalkura

He is SAFe® Premier Trainer, SAFe® SPCT, AHRA (Agile HR Enabler), and an experienced Agile Coach,... Read more

One of the core values in Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®?) is Alignment. The events, artifacts, and practices described in the framework try to achieve this outcome.

The "heartbeat" event of the framework, PI planning and Inspect and Adapt (I&A) involves everyone in the team to gain alignment on the execution and improvement.

  • PI Planning is a two-day event where the teams come together to plan the Program Increment which is 8-12 weeks. The event is attended by every stakeholder of the Agile Release Train (ART)including Product Manager, System Architect, and the Business Owners and facilitated by the Release Train Engineer (RTE).
  • I&A is the final event before the next PI Planning for the Train to retrospect and become better. This event is also attended by everyone on the Train.

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ART sync events help synchronize the train to align on the PI objectives. The System Demo's involve the stakeholders and customers to align on the value delivery.

  • First sync event is Scrum of Scrum where Scrum Master’s from each team will meet to understand the progress and impediments to the Train.
  • Second sync event is Product Owner Sync where we discuss the progress and impediments to solve.

For a better understanding of the roles involved in PI planning and the processes that ensue thereafter, let us take a look at the illustration below-

Roles Involved in PI Planning

The expectation of Alignment is taken to a further level when we talk about Continuous Delivery Pipeline at the ART. Exploration, Integration, Deployment, and Delivery have been given a pragmatic thought here utilising industry best practices and patterns. Every role works towards delivering value sustainably using these thoughts.

  • The Product Management is responsible to Collaborate with stakeholders, Research and come-up with a Vision and Roadmap to add value to the customer in Exploration Phase.
  • The Team is responsible for the Integration, Deployment and they get the help as necessary from all the Stakeholders on the Train.
  • Responsibility of Delivery is based on the demand and team has to be ready for that. The Business helps them establish the patterns required, as known to them.

When we look at the Portfolio level in SAFe®?, the rigour of Alignment is brought by Portfolio Kanban, and the roles governing it. The strategic alignment between the Epic Owners and Lean Portfolio Managers is the key here, which drives the lean behaviour using MVP's and Lean Budgeting.

  • The roles of Enterprise Architect, Lean Portfolio Manager, and Epic Owner take care of any new initiative entering the Portfolio Kanban. They make sure that the Epic entering the Kanban has a Lean Business Case and Hypothesis Statement on the Value. The Analysed and Approved Epics are taken up for implementation based on the capacity available at downstream Programs.

The illustration below aptly sums up how alignment happens at different levels in Scaled Agile framework.


I would call all these alignment patterns as Engagement. SAFe®? provides a framework and platform to deliver value by engaging all the roles, patterns, practices proven at scale at appropriate levels.

This engagement helps nurture the SAFe®? Values of-

  • Built-In-Quality
  • Program Execution
  • Alignment
  • Transparency

The effectiveness of this engaged alliance on the vision and strategy would be the winning formula required for the fast-moving world and SAFe®? helps you design an organization just that way.

Ashwinee Kalkura

He is SAFe® Premier Trainer, SAFe® SPCT, AHRA (Agile HR Enabler), and an experienced Agile Coach, Consultant, and passionate Trainer (SAFe®, IC Agile, and Axelos Accredited) with a demonstrated history of working in the Retail, Mobile, Industrial Automation, Banking, and Networking industries. Strong engineering professional skilled in Agile Methodologies (SAFe®, Scrum, XP, Kanban), Technical Practices, Test Automation, and Stakeholder Management. Trained over 2000 people on Certification-based training.

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