Many leaders pride themselves on setting the high-level direction and staying out of the details. But big picture, hands off leadership isn’t likely to work in a change situation, because the hardest part of change—the paralyzing part—is in the details.

Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors. To make a switch, you need to script the critical moves.

—Chip & Dan Heath, Switch [1]

SAFe Implementation Roadmap  

Note: This is the home page for the SAFe® Implementation Roadmap series. There are an additional 13 articles in this series, each of which is linked in sequence from the sections below.

Getting Started with Implementing SAFe:

The SAFe Implementation Roadmap consists of an overview graphic and a 14-article series that describes a strategy and an ordered set of activities for successfully implementing SAFe.

Achieving business agility and the benefits of Lean-Agile development at scale is not a trivial effort, so SAFe is not a trivial Framework. Before realizing SAFe’s rewards, organizations must embrace a Lean-Agile Mindset and understand and apply Lean-Agile principles. They must identify their Portfolio(s), Value Streams, and Agile Release Trains (ARTs), implement their Lean-Agile Portfolio(s), build quality in, and establish the mechanisms for continuous flow of value delivery and DevOps. And, of course, the culture must evolve as well.

The transformation of an organization towards full business agility requires the change leadership acumen to create persistent people practices and the mindset needed to support the change. Such a change also requires a practical and proven guide that brings the change into sequential action supported by a robust guiding coalition. Based on proven organizational change management strategies, the SAFe Implementation Roadmap graphic and article series describes the critical moves an enterprise can take to implement SAFe in an orderly, reliable, and successful fashion. As described in the Implementation Roadmap, the strategy for Implementing SAFe is based partly on John Kotter’s work in organizational change management [2]. As listed below, Kotter identifies eight ‘accelerators’ of leading a change. These are integrated throughout the SAFe implementation roadmap to enable change leaders along their journey.

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Build a guiding coalition
  • Form a strategic vision
  • Enlist a volunteer army
  • Enable action by removing barriers
  • Generate short-term wins
  • Sustain acceleration
  • Institute Change


To achieve the desired organizational change, leadership must “script the critical moves,” as described by Chip and Dan Heath [1]. When identifying those critical moves for adopting SAFe, hundreds of the world’s largest enterprises have already gone down this path, and successful adoption patterns have emerged. Figure 2 illustrates a typical pattern.

Leading in the Digital AgeMeasure and GrowLean Portfolio Management with LPM certificationCreate a Lean-Agile center of excellence (LACE)Leading SAFe for ART StakeholdersSAFe PO/PMSAFe Scrum MasterSAFe for TeamsLeading SAFe with SA CertificationSAFe System and Solution ArchitectLean Portfolio Management with LPM certificationValue Stream and ART Identification WorkshopSAFe DevOpsAgile Product ManagementInspect and AdaptImplementing SAFe with SPC CertificationTrain Executives, Managers and LeadersOrganize Around ValueReach the Tipping PointTrain teams and launch ARTPI PlanningTrain Lean-Agile Change AgentsCoach ART executionFind a PartnerSAFe Advanced Scrum MasterAccelerateSAFe Release Train EngineerLaunch More ARTs and Value StreamsImplementing SAFe with SPC CertificationEnhance the PortfolioBusiness ResultsBusiness ResultsLeading SAFe with SA CertificationCreate the Implementation PlanSAFe Executive WorkshopPrepare for ART Launch

Leading in the Digital Age Measure and Grow Lean Portfolio Management with LPM certification Create a Lean-Agile center of excellence (LACE) Leading SAFe for ART Stakeholders SAFe PO/PM SAFe Scrum Master SAFe for Teams Leading SAFe with SA Certification SAFe System and Solution Architect Lean Portfolio Management with LPM certification Value Stream and ART Identification Workshop SAFe DevOps Agile Product Management Inspect and Adapt Implementing SAFe with SPC Certification Train Executives, Managers and Leaders Organize Around Value Reach the Tipping Point Train teams and launch ART PI Planning Train Lean-Agile Change Agents Coach ART execution Find a Partner SAFe Advanced Scrum Master Accelerate SAFe Release Train Engineer Launch More ARTs and Value Streams Implementing SAFe with SPC Certification Enhance the Portfolio Business Results Business Results Leading SAFe with SA Certification Create the Implementation Plan SAFe Executive Workshop Prepare for ART Launch

Figure 2. SAFe Implementation Roadmap

While no two adoptions are identical, and there is rarely a perfectly sequential step-by-step implementation, we know that businesses getting the best results follow a path similar to that shown in the Implementation Roadmap. Each step on the roadmap is described in a separate article:

  1. Reaching the Tipping Point
  2. Train Lean-Agile Change Agents
  3. Create a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence
  4. Train Executives, Managers, and Leaders
  5. Lead in the Digital Age
  6. Organize Around Value
  7. Create the Implementation Plan
  8. Prepare for ART Launch
  9. Train Teams and Launch ART
  10. Coach ART Execution
  11. Launch More ARTs and Value Streams
  12. Enhance the Portfolio
  13. Accelerate

This first article is a launching pad to explore the roadmap and understand how to apply it to specific implementations. The remaining articles will help you throughout the journey.

Let’s get started with ‘Implementing’ with the first article: Reaching the Tipping Point.

This article serves as a launching pad to explore these steps in detail and understand how to apply them to specific implementations.

Start with the first article: Reaching the Tipping Point.

Learn More

[1] Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. Crown Business, 2010.

[2] Kotter, John P. Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World. Harvard Business Review Press, 2014.

Last update: 4 May 2023