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A c​​omparison between Agile, Scrum and SAFe

Agile methodology allows companies to manage their work and teams effectively and provide highly efficient benefits in product development. It contains several aspects, values, and practices to improve workflow functionality while establishing stability to sustain growth. In the past few years, Agile gained popularity and is now increasingly used in projects instead of the traditional waterfall approach. There are a variety of frameworks under Agile like Scrum and SAFe that facilitate planning the company's strategies and develop a stronger foundation for the team. In this article, we will define the importance of Agile and compare its most recognized frameworks, Scrum and SAFe.

What is Agile?

Agile was launched in 2001 when 17 software developers signed a document, "The Agile Manifesto," consisting of four fundamental values and 12 principles. This manifesto guides teams through planning and executing their tactics successfully. Agile methodology is mainly based on flexibility, communication, teamwork, and pragmatism. Flexibility will help your team adapt quickly to any change during the process while avoiding any risk of failure. On the other hand, assigning the right roles for your team and aligning responsibilities properly to match the company's goals will improve the overall performance. In addition, team communication is crucial in building trust between all individuals, and incorporating a pragmatism mindset will help your team discover what truly works to achieve their objectives. Finally, sharing a collaborative, agile culture within the organization will remove any holdups and ripple the effect to deliver a better outcome to enhance customer satisfaction. 

Agile contains plenty of frameworks that can suit your company, but today we will discuss two significant frameworks, SAFe and Scrum. 

Scrum: Scrum is an agile framework used in software development to manage your project while continuously evolving the collaborative aspect within your team. Scrum derives originally from rugby because, like rugby, it emphasizes teamwork. To implement the plan correctly and attain outstanding results, all team members should cooperate dynamically and rely on solid communication. The Scrum team, which includes the Product Owner, developers, and Scrum Master, should consist of around 4 to 9 members depending on the project's scale. The Product Owner is responsible for managing the backlog and representing the client's interests, whereas the Scrum Master should monitor the progress of the work scope. The development team is responsible for the sprint execution through planning, designing, building, testing, and analyzing to deliver a complete project. Therefore, Scrum should be adequately practiced, or it can cause issues like scope creep and lack of communication with larger teams that might negatively impact the project. However, if employed correctly, it will positively affect the time, money, and efforts invested in the project to obtain high-quality deliverables.  

SAFe: SAFe stands for the Scaled Agile Framework, and unlike Scrum, it is developed for larger enterprises with more than 100 employees. It offers an agile workflow method with a structured system to support leaders in managing and growing their enterprise. SAFe can produce incredible outcomes by aligning all stakeholders around a transparent common goal while empowering teams to make the right decision whenever needed. It also promotes a continuous learning culture that will help future sprint forecasts, ensuring better product development and delivery. Cross-functional teams will have a sharper vision of what to accomplish in SAFe, creating a more thriving environment to complete assignments in iterations. Like any other framework, there are some challenges you could face with SAFe; for example, it requires longer planning cycles and intensive tracking. Furthermore, it contains many heavy jargon or terms that might be too complex but will become easier with experience. As long as you're aware of the drawbacks included, SAFe is extremely beneficial in facilitating the managerial aspect of large organizations.   

Agile methodology is a powerful feature in project management; therefore, analyzing your company's objectives and being mindful of your team's size will help you pick the right approach for your organization, whether it's Scrum or SAFe.


James Liu September 1, 2022

A slight correction regarding Agile, as it was formalised in 2001 but launched/created in the 1990's

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Alex Koxaras _Relational_
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September 25, 2022

Thank you for sharing this @Andreas Springer _Actonic_ !

Michael Simmons
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September 26, 2022

Hi @Andreas Springer _Actonic_ 

I enjoyed your post; thank you for sharing. One thing I would like to add is that Scrum@Scale has been rolled out to groups as large as 30,000 people. There might be larger implementations but I'm not aware of them. 

Take care and thank you again for your great post.


Colin Wood
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October 7, 2022

Good point, James Liu, about pre-2001. DSDM landed in 1994 and I was lucky enough to get some early exposure to it with the foresighted team I worked on at the time. Many of the principles of DSDM fed directly into the 2001 Manifesto.

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