SAFe Backlogs 1.2

SAFe-Backlogs-graphic-1.2 Now, we're starting to get this wood stacked up nice and neat.
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The Hierarchy 

This section may seem like its coming out of order; shouldn't we cover the specifics of each work item before we talk about their organizational structure? Maybe, but I'm coming at the topic in this sequence because I believe that where these work items sit in the Big Picture is such a huge part of understanding what they are. With that said, let's dive into the meta-structure.

Understand these two points about SAFe:

  1. There are four different levels where SAFe roles, events and artifacts live. These are the Portfolio, Large Solution, Program and Team levels.
  2. At the same time, there are four different configurations: Full SAFe, Large Solution SAFe, Portfolio SAFe and Essential SAFe.

Each configuration is a collection of levels and work items designed to implement SAFe for specific situations. These items kind of line up, but not exactly. Here's a handy table for comparison. 

A quick review of this table reveals a few critical bits of learning.

  1. Every configuration has the "Essential" levels of Team and Program. This makes sense because you need both of those to even be considering SAFe. If your situation calls for nothing more than Team, then you don't need Scaled Agile.
  2. The Large Solution level and the Large Solution SAFe configuration are the real wild cards here. Remember that you only need these whenever your organization is large enough to require multiple Agile Release Trains.
  3. Again with the Large Solution level! It is possible that this level is the top level of a configuration; specifically the Large Solution SAFe configuration. To my experience this is a pretty rare config, but know that it is there.
  4. Whatever the configuration you have, the highest level dictates the work item at the top of the food chain. In other words, for the Full SAFe configuration, the epic is the reigning king of the hill, and all other work items eventually roll up into it. We'll cover specifics of the configurations shortly.

Hopefully this chart makes some of the relationships between configurations and levels a bit more apparent. When I'm coaching teams I always make sure to emphasize the specific verbiage being used so that everyone is clear about which levels and work items we're talking about, and how those all play together. Configurations don't change that often, so there's less concern for confusion there. If you are helping your org implement SAFe, then do yourself a favor and hold a lunch-and-learn or some other training offering so that they can reach that same level of common understanding.

SAFe Backlogs 1.3
SAFe Backlogs 1.1

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Monday, 25 October 2021
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