Scaled Agile Framework

SAFe Version 4.5 for Lean Enterprises: What is new?

22 June 2017
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Reading time: 4 minutes

Since Thursday, June 22, 2017, the new SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) version 4.5 is available; things have progressed in the 1.5 year since the SAFe 4.0 introduction. Not only the name, the big picture, the online menu structure, the implementation roadmap and some terms have changed. SAFe 4.5 provides easier introduction through helpful extended framework configurations from “Essential” to “Full SAFe”. Topics such as “Lean UX”, “Continuous Delivery Pipeline” and “Scalable DevOps” will be explained in more detail, thus gaining current experience in the market.

Lean Enterprise

The name “SAFe 4.0 for Lean Software and Systems Engineering” changes to “SAFe for Lean Enterprises”. Overall, the framework has been “leaned”: there are lean budgets, lean business cases (rather than “lightweight”) and Lean UX, describes the idea to grow from a Lean start-up to a Lean Enterprise. However, the focus remains on development.


The vision of SAFe 4.5 is as follows:

  • Configurability (and improved usability): Easier Big Pictures, new online menu and configuration level.
  • Essential SAFe: The heart of SAFe on team and program level with the Agile Release Train (ART).
  • Implementation Roadmap: More detailed description of how to introduce SAFe into a company.
  • Scalable DevOps and Continuous Delivery: For me the biggest change in the new version 4.5.

DevOps and Continuous Delivery


DevOps is an integral part of the Agile Release Train (ART) and is essential to deliver value. SAFe 4.5 DevOps describes the following aspects:

  • Culture of shared responsibility.
  • Automation Deployment Process.
  • Focus on continuous delivery of values (Lean Flow).
  • Everything is measurable.
  • Release-ability and recovery architecture to minimize risk.

SAFe is still concerned with the continuous supply of value-adding functions, but not with the operation of integrated systems. Therefore, aspects such as operational support, event handling or monitoring are not discussed in detail. SAFe 4.5 therefore still requires an operational unit; Dev and Ops are linked, but not merged.

Continious Delivery Pipleine

The Continuous Delivery Pipeline at ART is based on the Lean Startup Cycle with Hypothesis, Build (Minimal Viable Product, MVP), Measure, Learn (Evaluate MVP). In addition to the Lean Business Case, Epics receive the hypothesis for an MVP (replacement of the “Success Criterias”).

  • Continuous Exploration: Features are extended by Research Synthesis, e.g. “Customer visits”, “gemba walks” or “trade studies”.
  • Continuous integration includes the range from team and system level to “large solutions”.
  • Continuous Deployment: The release is decoupled from deployment. The release elements such as “End-user” or “Back-office” functionalities can also be released independently.


SAFe 4.5 no longer speaks of “Value Stream”, but of “Large Solution”. Four different configurations are described:

  • Essential SAFe: team and program level with the Agile Release Train and Continuous Delivery. Here is only listed what it really needs to implement SAFe minimal, the SAFe MVP.
  • Large Solution SAFe with Solution Train, KPIs, Solution Intent with Compliance, but without portfolio.
  • Portfolio SAFe (previously 3-level SAFe): team, program and portfolio level without large solution, with Lean Budgets and Lean Portfolio Management.
  • Full SAFe (previously 4-level SAFe): Everything SAFe can offer.

SAFe 4.5

At the team level, SAFe 4.5 has adapted itself to Scrum: the agile team is now the Dev team, Team Demo is a new iteration review. The SAFe Implementation Roadmap has expanded by 12 articles, and the SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) is highlighted as a critical role.

Zühlke SAFe 4.5 courses

SAFe 4.5 is backwards compatible with 4.0. This means that whoever uses SAFe 4.0 does not have to change much to implement SAFe 4.5 incrementally. Zühlke integrates version 4.5 in all SAFe courses. Further information about the courses can be found here: https://www.zuehlke.com/ch/en/about-us/academy/

I am looking forward to any comments, likes or e-mails to alain.joray@zuehlke.com.

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