Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.
Large Solution SAFe
Large Solution SAFe is for enterprises building large and complex solutions that do not require portfolio concerns.
Large Solution SAFe is for enterprises building large and complex solutions that do not require portfolio concerns.Large Solution SAFe (Figure 1) describes the additional roles, events, and artifacts needed to help those who build and evolve the largest and most sophisticated software applications, networks, and cyber-physical systems and includes the following constructs:
- The Essential SAFe configuration
- An additional competency, Enterprise Solution Delivery, describes how to apply Lean-Agile principles and practices to the specification, development, deployment, operation, and evolution of the world’s largest and most sophisticated software applications, networks, and cyber-physical systems.
- The large solution-level roles, artifacts, and events
- The full spanning palette
- A connection to the Enterprise or Government entity the solution supports
Large Solution SAFe builds on Lean systems engineering practices and artifacts to provide a more flexible approach to the development, deployment, and operation of large solutions. It supports enterprises building and operating large-scale solutions that require significant collaboration beyond the scope of a single ART. Building these solutions requires additional roles, artifacts, events, and coordination.
The remainder of this article describes the highlights, roles, events, and artifacts at the large solution level (Figure 2).
The Solution Train (Figure 3) is the main organizational construct that coordinates the efforts of multiple ARTs and suppliers. The value delivered by Solution Trains can range from core banking applications in global financial institutions to jet fighters and satellite systems. Enterprises that build these systems-of-systems require abilities, principles, and practices beyond those followed by a single ART. Read the Enterprise Solution Delivery article for further discussion and best practices for building large solutions with Solution Trains.
Large Solution Highlights
Below are the highlights of the Large Solution level:
- Solution Train – the key organizational element of the Large Solution SAFe. Aligns the people and the work toward a shared solution vision, intent, and backlog.
- Solution Intent – the repository for storing, managing, and communicating the solution’s current and intended requirements and design decisions. It provides support for verification, validation, and Compliance activities and is an enabler for Lean systems engineering practices, including Set-Based Design, Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), and Agile Architecture.
- Solution Train Flow – a state where each Solution Train delivers a continuous flow of value to the customer.
- Spanning Palette – the full spanning palette and all its elements, including Vision, OKRs, Roadmap, AI, Shared Services, Communities of Practice (CoP), System Team, and Measure and Grow.
The Large Solution SAFe roles help coordinate multiple ARTs and suppliers and provide the necessary cross-ART coordination and governance:
- Solution Management – responsible for defining and supporting the building of desirable, feasible, viable, and sustainable large-scale business solutions that meet customer needs over the solution’s significant lifespan.
- Solution Architects –responsible for defining and communicating a shared technical and architectural vision across a Solution Train to help ensure the solution under development is fit for its intended purpose.
- Solution Train Engineer (STE) – a servant leader and coach for the Solution Train, facilitating and guiding the work of all ARTs and Suppliers in the Value Stream.
- Supplier – an internal or external organization that develops and delivers components, subsystems, or services, which help Solution Trains deliver solutions to customers.
- Shared Services – represent the specialty roles, people, and services required for the success of an Agile Release Train (ART) or Solution Train, but that cannot be dedicated full-time.
- Communities of Practice (CoP) – organized groups of people who have a common interest in a specific technical or business domain who regularly share information, improve their skills, and actively work on advancing the general knowledge of the domain.
Large Solution SAFe highlights events and activities that help coordinate multiple ARTs and suppliers:
- Pre-Plan – describes the alignment activities that prepare Agile Release Trains within a Solution Train for PI Planning.
- Coordinate and Deliver – describes the SAFe artifacts and practices necessary for Solution Trains to maintain alignment and deliver value throughout a PI.
- Solution Demo – integrates the development efforts from all ARTs and suppliers on the Solution Train every PI and makes them visible to Customers and other stakeholders for evaluation and feedback.
- Inspect & Adapt (I&A) – a significant event where the current state of the integrated solution across all ARTs is demonstrated and evaluated. Solution Train stakeholders then reflect and identify improvement backlog items via a structured problem-solving workshop.
- Product Manager Sync – similar to the PO Sync (see PI article), the Product Manager sync typically runs on the same cadence as the PO Sync and is held soon after it to raise and address issues from the ARTs.
- Architect Sync – a Solution Train event used to guide emerging designs, discuss tradeoffs, and increase opportunities to align implementation approaches without becoming a source of delay.
- RTE Sync – similar to the ‘Coaches Sync’ (see PI article), this event usually runs on the same cadence as the Coaches Syncs and is held soon after it to address issues that can’t be resolved directly by the ARTs.
The following Large Solution SAFe artifacts help coordinate multiple ARTs and suppliers:
- Capabilities – a higher-level solution behavior that typically spans multiple ARTs. They are sized and split into various features so they can be implemented in a single PI.
- Enabler Capabilities– support the activities needed to extend the Architectural Runway to provide future business functionality, including exploration, architecture, infrastructure, and compliance.
- Solution Train Epics – epics implemented by a single Solution Train.
- Nonfunctional Requirements (NFRs) – define system attributes such as security, reliability, performance, maintainability, scalability, and usability and serve as constraints or restrictions on the system’s design.
- Solution Train Backlog – the container for upcoming capabilities and enablers, each of which can span multiple ARTs and is intended to advance the solution and build its architectural runway.
- Solution – a product, service, or system ARTs deliver to the enterprise’s internal or external customers.
Apply SAFe Elements to Other Configurations
SAFe introduces several unique elements in the different configurations. Generally, any SAFe element may be applied to any SAFe configuration. For example, a single ART building a medical device of modest scale will likely have one or more suppliers and a solution intent to manage compliance. Or a Solution Train building a LIDAR system for autonomous vehicles could leverage DevOps. This is part of SAFe’s scalability and versatility (Figure 4).
Last update: 5 December 2022