Why SAFe still does not convince me

First of all, this is just a bunch of doubts and feelings I got reading about SAFe framework in their webpage. I am no expert in anything here but for me these questions and problems I propose here needs to be addressed.

Nine methods to split epics are just epic

Isn’t too much all those methods? One of them is use case scenarios, for example. What is new with this and why coming back to create use case scenarios is good for splitting epics. In my understanding of epics, mostly with a bunch of people giving it a though and agreeing with one option it would be just fine for many cases. Feel like a YAGNI.

Poor connection of everything they use in their framework

Well, a framework should act as a framework and if you create one you should explain properly the connection between the parts and how they interact. With that big picture image you get a lot of partial concepts mostly fine when you click on them but difficult to paint into your mind a real/big scenario, with all of the parts working together in a successful way.

Too big with too many elements

I cannot imagine a normal organization moving from their current status to all of that. Seems overwhelming. And if they do not do that, they are not using SAFe I guess, so how can we really know if SAFe works well as a whole for most of the companies? I saw the combined picture with waterfall + agile projects running at the same time, with the portfolio and all. It just seems not practical to me. Though I am no one here to say anything since my experience is limited.

They encourage the old(?) project management role, not Scrum Master

And they affirm somehow: In large projects, you have to use project managers in the traditional way (and they know about it). Also, project manager figure is kind of odd(close to a god), becoming business analyst, system engineer, product owner and seems to point to whatever means to be a boss for tech guys. They also support the International Business Analysts definition of Project managers, which has the requirement elicitation and all the packages inside.


Same level of prescription as RUP, but prescribing agile, lean, scrum, XP, Kanban, DevOps, and an endless list of smaller tools. It seems to me prescribing the other pedestrian’s side of the road too.

The only measure is the output, but just in case, take these 8 metrics

Those 8 metrics are interesting though many “waterfall metrics” were interesting too, and look where they ended at the end in many companies. How much effort does all of this take? What is the Return of Investment in these particular metrics? Can we see it in the Cost of Delay or something? When some metrics, when not?

What is new with SAFe?

I asked to myself this question. Well, I did not find anything. Well, to be fair, the connection of everything with a picture, which is good and a rather simple explanation of every element is the new thing in my opinion.

That lightweight business case and many others seem to have the same issues as the Use Cases and documentation

Check the lightweight business case image. And then the epic statement template format. And then the examples .xls of the metrics. And then the… Lightweight with respect to what? Cannot we make lightweight more lightweight? I know Rally or other applications will “help” with it but it seems too much to me as a whole. The team self-assessments are just epic.

The architectural epics system?

The graphic and explanation of Funnel > Backlog > Analysis > Implementation recalls me too much to the Elicitation > Analysis > Design > Implement > Test. This is at higher level though. I still need a better explanation for this though.

You cannot copy from their webpage

This is seriously, seriously annoying. I do not understand why they do that. They only thing they get is to make us difficult to cite them and people gets bothered. I cannot criticize properly a part of the text because I am not going to write down the whole text. And then people can doubt my critics if I do not put the text. Really annoying, again. If you copy the text as an image, I bet they will sue you for citing without permission.

I agree somehow with Ken Schawber in this: http://kenschwaber.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/unsafe-at-any-speed/

I feel after reading a lot of SAFe like Sun Tzu said in the Art of War. “Leave the politics to the politicians and the war to the generals. When one of these roles try to get into the others’ one, nothing but failure is expected to be the output”. (From the spanish version, rephrased by me)


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