Different Layers in (SAFe) Scaled Agile Framework

by StarAgile

April 02, 2019
Category SAFe

Software development projects found a relief when Agile methodology was implemented. It has several advantages over the waterfall method. The repetitive iteration approach added value to the product implementation at each stage.

Now, there needs improvement to effectively implement Agile in enterprise environments. That is when scaling Agile became very important. In the year 2011 Scaled Agile Framework in short called as SAFe, Scaled Agile company gifted this framework to the society. Since then it is grabbing the attention of development projects and the latest version was released in 2018 Oct, the SAFe 4.6. Continuously people are looking for SAFe training courses across locations to learn and implement in their projects.

Let us understand a detailed overview of SAFe framework and different levels of SAFe Framework which will certainly motivate you to know SAFe Agilist Certification cost in India.

SAFe Certification

What is it?

First, we will define and know about this framework in simple terms. Then we shall deep dive into its layers and levels. The need to construct larger and complicated systems without compromising the quality and time made us look at SAFe training. Yes, to understand and implement this framework in organization SAFe certification training became mandatory.

The lean-Agile transformation required mindset, as well as deeper understanding and both, are covered in every SAFe Agile certification program. Scaling up of the team is the primary motive of this framework, which is similar to that of the other popular frameworks including LeSS, Nexus, and DAD.

In this framework, the adoption of lean-Agile happened with the four layers namely the TEAM, PROGRAM, VALUE STREAM, and PORTFOLIO.

In this article, we shall discuss each layer and understand their importance and how this framework helps build both smaller and complex systems which are discussed in our SAFe Agilist training .

Different layers in SAFe Framework

Before we move directly to the four layers, let us dig the path to know how Scaled Agile arrived at a conclusion that these 4 layers are vital for smooth Agile-lean adoption.

Essential SAFe                      

The very basic configuration released by Scaled Agile is the “ESSENTIAL SAFe.” Per the Agile Manifesto, minimizing the work done is the smart way and maximizing the work not done is a simple way. Keeping this in mind, implementing this framework with two essential layers was produced and they include the Team and the Program Level.

When this framework is good to go with both larger complicated and smaller systems, then even the basic framework should have the basic 10 elements as its subset. Those 10 components are listed below.

1. Lean-Agile Principle

2. Real Teams and Trains (Agile) – ART

3. Rhythm and synchronization

4. Product Increment (PI) planning

5. DevOps and Releasability

6. Demo at the System level

7. Inspection and adapting

8. Planning iteration and Innovation

9. Architectural Runway

10. Leadership – Lean-Agile

With these elements, it is possible to implement any complicated enterprise projects.

Large Solution SAFe

For coordinating multiple ARTs (Agile Release Trains), extra events, roles, and artifacts were required and this introduced Large Solution Level on top of the Essential framework. Here Agile manifesto of simplicity is little modified. Simplicity is required for a simple system and when the system demands complexity, then one must not build a simpler one.

Therefore in addition to team and program level, large solution level was added. Large solution level had the following elements in addition to the basic 10 elements.

1. Solution train to coordinate multiple trains.

2. Solution Intent is used to build a quality system

3. Solution context was described to know how the system will interface.

4. Solution kanban was there to manage the capability flow

In a nutshell, for a huge and complicated system, large solution elements were also required.

Portfolio SAFe

This level aligns the enterprise strategy with portfolio execution. Roles, principles, and practices are present in this level that governs and initiates the development set for every value stream. Small and medium-size enterprise takes help from portfolio to govern the complete solution set technically. But, for larger enterprises with 500+ practitioners, multiple SAFe portfolios will be used per business line.

Portfolio level highlights the following

1. The lean budget that allows quick and authorized decision-making.

2. Each value stream focus on funding people and resource required to build a solution and deliver value to the customer.

3. Portfolio kanban creates work in progress by making every work visible.

4. Portfolio canvas describes and defines the objective of the this framework portfolio.

Full SAFe

Considering the benefits of essential, large solution and portfolio, scaled Agile built a comprehensive level that will include all the four layers team, program, large solution, and portfolio.

With this basic insight about the Scaled Agile Framework, let us know in detail see about the four layers and their role in the lean-Agile transformation which is deeply covered in every SAFe Agile certification course.

Four Layers of SAFe

Layer in Scaled agile framework

Lowest layer – Team Layer 

Several teams will be involved in doing the scrum or the kanban methodology. Delivery of value at the team level is the goal of this level.

Team level consists of roles, events, activities, and process that every Agile team must build to deliver in the ART perspective. Lean and SAFe enterprise lays on the team as the foundation. Without a team, delivering customer value is not possible. The team level will describe the best way to create a high performing team.

Every Agile team draws stories from the backlog and elaborate, build and test within the iteration. Scrum ceremony including planning, stand-up meeting, sprint retrospective, and DoD are also done within the iteration. This framework team level varies from general as here all team will work in cadence for a 2-week sprint. Also, the hardening, innovation, and planning happen during every 5th iteration. This will allow the team to breathe and work on the user stories.

The development team, testing team, SM, and PO are the participants in the team layer. BA will not contribute to this layer.

Program Layer

One layer above the team is the program layer. It contains the ART concept. The team will work together in the guidance of the program managers and delivers value in the ART concept. Product and release management is the specific agenda of this layer. DevOps and the system team along with the BA, architect, UX, and release train engineers collaborate work in the level. The two primary teams in the program layer are the system and the DevOps team

System team works with the goal to build a development infrastructure and administer development environment.  System sprint demo is staged by the system team and supports in test automation.

DevOps team works towards the deployment and automate the deployment process.

Portfolio Layer 

All ARTs are guided in this layer and the 4 typical responsibilities at this layer are mentioned as follows.

1. Identifies the value stream and initiates the program for delivery by ARTs.

2. Manage the fund of the ARTs and keep them on the track

3. Owns the management and definition of the business, and epics that traverse across the value streams.

4. Collects the metrics all through the system and supports in informing the portfolio management.

Mainly the program portfolio management, epic owners, and the enterprise architecture are the roles in the portfolio layer. However, the roles are not tightly defined at this layer.

Value Stream Layer

SAFe version 4.0 included an additional layer called value stream which is a combination of both ARTs and the program teams. This layer is responsible for offering an important quantity of valuable delivery to the clients. The two different types of value stream are operational and development. The operational stage is at which the company provides services to the clients. Mainly this is called the money-making stage. In the development stage, new products and system capabilities are developed. In small SaaS companies, both the stages might merge together and become one. The primary step in this framework implementation is to identify the ARTs and value streams.

Why SAFe?

After looking at the different layers and the growth phase of SAFe versions, let us now see why this framework is catching attention the recent years. Mainly coping with the competition can happen only when organizations stand on their toes and deliver. This framework help in such a scenario to handle complexity both in the system and in the technology.

Top 7 reasons for businesses to adopt SAFe and grow their revenue 7x

 Quality is more important than quantity. Having said that the customer expects both quantity and timely delivery. This framework offers increased solution quality.

1. Productivity increases as the team are empowered to work and they discuss all issues during the sprint retrospective leading to improve their morale.

2. Lean-Agile method let the business to deliver value within quick time and even complex system can be worked out with multiple ARTs.

3. Transparency in this system is achieved as different layers team has different roles and hence it is easy to share their views.

4. Scaling Agile with SAFe can be done for any enterprise size and also learning the method does not throw much challenge.

5. Each release train will allow the client to check the product quality and hence customer satisfaction can never be a problem irrespective of the complexity.

6. Team synchronizes together due to the practice of scrum-of-scrum in the ARTs.


In summary, every individual must earn SAFe Agile Certification in India to stay at par with the business. Working in an Agile project for a while is worth considering SAFe training and certification for moving up in the career ladder. Lean development works perfectly with SAFe 4.6 agilist certification course. You can align the technical and business goal of your company if you can understand this framework principles. Attend the training and get access to all SAFe agilist certification exam questions and answers to crack the exam quickly.

This framework offers enterprises an opportunity to quickly deploy Agile to huge parts of the information technology value stream. It also offers common thinking and language to teams. Final words, this framework is the best addition in the Agile landscape and is the appropriate framework that allows rapid deployment of Agile in their organization.