The seven core competencies of SAFe

Date: 26/10/2021| Category: Agile| Tags:

The latest version of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe 5.0) is built around the seven core competencies of the Lean Enterprise. The core competencies are used to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage in the current digital environment. Mastery of these competencies enables enterprises to successfully respond to volatile market conditions, customer needs and emerging technologies.

The Lean Enterprise

SAFe integrates the power of Agile, Lean and DevOps into a comprehensive operating system. SAFe helps enterprises thrive by delivering innovative products and services faster, more predictably and with higher quality.

Within a lean enterprise, there must be a strong focus on value creation for the end customer with minimal waste and processes. SAFe for the lean enterprise is a methodology to sustain this. By applying the set of SAFe values, principles and practices the enterprise can realize business and individual benefits. The application of SAFe has prove to increase:

  • Engagement
  • Productivity
  • Quality
  • Time-to-market

The Core Competencies

SAFe constantly adapts to the current situation of the market and continuously provides updates of the framework to its users. The current edition, SAFe 5, is built around seven core competencies (with additional core competencies in comparison to older versions).

Each of the seven core competencies are essential to achieve Business Agility. Each of the competencies is supported by an assessment specific to the competency. These assessments enable the organisation to assess their proficiency.

The seven core competencies are:

  • Lean-Agile Leadership
  • Team and Technical Agility
  • Agile Product Delivery
  • Enterprise Solution Delivery
  • Lean Portfolio Management
  • Organizational Agility
  • Continuous Learning Culture

Lean-Agile Leadership

The Lean-Agile competency describes how leaders empower teams and individuals to reach their full potential. True Lean-Agile leaders do this by leading the example, they are the vivant example of the SAFe Lean-Agile mindset. They work by the values, principles and practices of the framework and lead the change to a new way of working.
Lean-Agile Leadership is an extremely important competency. When an organisation decides to scale Agile and aims to become business agile it is all in the hands of the organisation’s managers, executives and other leaders. Only they are authorized to change and continuously improve the systems that govern how work is performed.

Team and Technical Agility

Team and Technical Agility focuses on organizing cross-functional Agile teams. Teams are not constricted to use only one Agile framework but tend to apply the best of Agile methods and techniques. This creates Agile teams that learn and grow together and results in more innovative business solutions with a faster time-to-market.

The aim of this competency is to form cross-functional teams that are capable of covering a complete full development lifecycle. Teams are aligned to the organisational value streams and thereby assist in the journey towards business agility.

Agile Product Delivery

The competency of Agile Product Delivery is all creating the right product and/or service for the right customers at the right time. It is grounded in co-creation and puts the customer at the center of every decision taken. In order to do this, it uses agile practices such as design thinking.

In combination with the agile practices, DevOps practices help sustain the value release of any product or service. Value is delivered at any time to meet customer and market demand. The iterative development results in an Agile product delivery that enhances business agility.

Enterprise Solution Delivery

Enterprise Solution Delivery provides a more flexible approach to the development, deployment and operation of systems. Enterprise solutions delivery is based on more advanced Lean systems.

Enterprise solution delivery also leverages the simulation and virtualization in a cyber-physical environment. This helps to create ‘living systems’ that are constantly growing and thereby continuously seek to deliver an increased value to the end users.

Lean Portfolio Management

In order for a big enterprise to reach success, it requires portfolio management practices. However in the Scaled Agile Framework this would not simply be portfolio management, but modernized by Lean-Agile thinking and a focus on value streams.

Agile portfolio management seeks to coordinate across portfolio’s value streams with a strong focus on alignment of execution and strategy. It’s performance is measured by lean governance. Lean and Agile practices work together to create the best result.

Organizational Agility

Organizational agility helps organisations react fast when unexpected occurrences occur. To be fully responsive, the enterprise must be built by those that embody the Lean-Agile culture, values and principles.

Strategy agility provides the opportunity to quickly respond to changes in the market, to address upcoming opportunities and to implement new strategies quickly. With the help of organizational agility change is no longer a threat but becomes an opportunity.

Continuous Learning Culture

Culture and mindset are two things that are fluid, continuously changing and need to continually evolve. The enterprise needs to adaptively learn, innovate and improve in order to fruitfully benefit from its Agile and Lean processes and products.

Everyone in the organisation needs to be challenged to make incremental improvements in order to help reach organisational success. That is why continuous learning and improvement should be at the core of the organisation, for the current and future generations.

Source: Scaled Agile Framework

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