What's new and different in Safe 5.0

March 15, 2021

What is SAFe 5.0?

On October 2ndd 2019, Scaled Agile Inc. announced their offering of an updated version of the Scaled Agile Framework - SAFe® 5.0 for Lean Enterprises. Version 5.0 is unique in its focus on business agility, and has been reshaped for customer centricity. It also goes beyond technical function to expand on portfolio management capabilities from Agile perspectives.

SAFe 5.0 seeks to implement not just Agile product delivery, but business agility. This was based on the observation that, given the current pace of globalization, market changes, disruption and technological shifts, existing business models, hierarchy and infrastructure may not keep up. Business agility makes up for this by enabling business owners to make fast, legitimate decisions, assign funds and align the right people with the right roles.

What's new in SAFe 5.0?

Let’s have a look at the updates in some detail.

  • New Big Picture

To start with, SAFe 5.0 updated the Big Picture for better access, upgraded features and easier navigation.

Courtesy - https://www.scaledagileframework.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/New-Big-Picture-1.png

To get a better sense of how this works, study this detailed walkthrough of all new features in the SAFe 5.0 Big Picture.

A Focus on Business Agility

Business Agility responds to an organization’s ability to respond to changing market conditions and customers demands quickly and adequately. This is essential for businesses to remain profitable and thrive in cut-throat competitive economies. Business agility requires innovative business solutions that involve every operational level - business and technology leaders, development, IT operations, legal, marketing, finance, support, compliance, security, and others. It also requires the use of Agile practices to implement incremental change, respond to user feedback and keep expanding features and services to keep customers happy.

SAFe 5.0 is built to facilitate business agility implementation through focus on customers, innovations, and growth. It comes with a second operating system that works around value streams, instead of going by department-level silos. This injects speed and innovation into the creative network, characteristic of entrepreneurial workflows without abandoning the stability and organization of a hierarchical system.

To learn about how to measure business agility and expedite economic growth, refer to this article on the official SAFe website.

New Overview

SAFe 5.0 introduced a new overview tab that displays an easily understandable view of SAFe’s Seven Core Competencies of the Lean Enterprise.

Courtesy - https://www.scaledagileframework.com/whats-new-in-safe-5-0/

The overview also provides twenty-one dimensions to facilitate the implementation of business agility.

To the left are competencies related to execution, while those that empower strategy and development are present on right. At the bottom is the foundation of SAFe - the Lean-Agile Leadership competency.

At the center is the customer, who is the prime focus for each of the seven competencies. Take heed of Measure and Grow at the top right of the tab. It is meant to remind users about self-assessments that check the company’s progress towards fulfilling the core tenets and practices for successful business agility.

The overview can also be quite useful when introducing concepts and efficacy of business agility to senior management or operational teams.

Sten Gronning - https://www.linkedin.com/in/sten-gr%C3%B8nning-071645/

New Core Competencies

In addition to the original five competencies introduced in SAFe 4.6, SAFe 5.0 offer two new competencies:

Continuous Learning Culture:

Comprises a number of values and practices that drive individuals and organizations to consistently increase their knowledge base, performance, competence and levels of innovation. This is achieved by investing in a culture of relentless improvement and creating envisioning.

This competence encompasses three main elements:

  • Learning Organization – Employees at every level must be eager to learn and grow in order to adapt to constantly shifting market forces.
  • Innovation Culture – Employees are encouraged to explore and execute creative measures for heightened value delivery.
  • Relentless Improvement – On every level, the enterprise prioritizes the enhancement of its products and processes.

Organizational Agility:

Deals with optimization of Agile teams and people operating according to Lean principles. This competence focuses on business processes and associated strategies that lead to new, clear decisions that allow for faster adaptation to new opportunities.

This competence encompasses three main elements:

  • Lean-Thinking People and Agile Teams – Everyone working on a solution must be trained in Lean and Agile methods, so as to internalize its principles and practices.
  • Lean Business Operations – Teams deploy Lean principles to structure and develop business processes that lead to delivery of products and services.
  • Strategy Agility – The organization focuses on gaining the levels of Agile that lets them quickly gather knowledge about the market, and align strategy to changes when necessary.

Restructured Competencies

The original competencies introduced in SAFe 4.6 have been significantly restructured in SAFe 5.0. These competencies offer the relevant knowledge, behaviours and skills that facilitate implementation of business agility across the entire organization. They seek to allow the delivery of best quality (operations, product, service, growth) in the shortest possible lead time (that would also be sustainable).  

The original five competencies are:

  • Lean-Agile Leadership
  • Team and Technical Agility
  • Agile Product Delivery
  • Enterprise Solution Delivery
  • Lean Portfolio Management

To expand on how each competence has been rewritten, it is best to go to the source itself. Refer to this page on scaledagilenetwork.com for a detailed description on how each competence has been reoriented to offer greater agility, efficacy and economic benefit.

Greater emphasis on Lean Portfolio Management

In particular, the core competency of LeanPortfolio Management has been reworked to better institute business agility. A new Portfolio Vision has been added, as well as objectives and OKRs.

This change is intended to solve portfolio level challenges organizations struggle with by collaborating with a consulting partner with the experience in portfolio construct in large enterprises.

New Themes

SAFe 5.0 has introduced new themes built around the seven core competencies detailed above. SAFe 5.0’s new Essential level has added Customer Centricity and Design Thinking to ease the inclusion of business agility in organizational goals and processes.

Customer Centricity:

The customer is at the kernel of every business decision. This refers to both internal and external customers. The intention is to look at what matters the most - the customers’ opinion on whether they have received value. Instead of becoming entangled in the mechanics of development and decision-making, priorities are established firmly to provide greater efficacy and customer satisfaction.

Design Thinking:

Encourages creative thinking in order to solve problems, determine the right products and solutions to meet customers’ needs and preferences. It also helps evaluate what is feasible for actual products in terms of resources and sustainability.

New Principle

SAFe 5.0 has added a new principle, updating from its previous 9. The new principle Organize Around Value intends to pilot enterprises’ development strategy and effort around the supreme end of end-to-end value. It utilizes the benefits of a hierarchical structure, but given SAFe’s Lean principles, also builds an empowers use of a network organized around value. Value streams identify people who are best served by working in teams together, which enhances collaboration, minimises delay and improves product quality.

To place Organize Around Value in context, have a look at SAFe’s other principles:

https://www.scaledagileframework.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Principle-10-1024x802.png

Updated Roadmap

The new SAFe 5.0 Implementation Roadmap has been updated to include two new courses.

  • Lean Portfolio Management (LPM)
  • Agile Product Management (APM)
https://www.scaledagileframework.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Whats-New-in-SAFe-5.0_F17_WEB-new.png

Other changes are highlighted in red in the image above.


  • Sustain and Improve step has been renamed as Accelerate. It focuses on speeding up the organization’s journey toward business agility, with ‘pro tips’ and advanced concepts for each core competency.
  • A new Measure and Grow icon and article has been added. It lets users determine the portfolio progress towards business agility and identify next steps for growth.

SAFe 5.0 seeks to expand on business operations so as to capitalize on opportunities for growth and revenue generation. While incorporating it’s functionalities in the day-to-day workings of a company may seem initially complicated, continued usage promises to yield economic benefit and refined, upgraded streams on innovation.

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