Architectural Patterns in SAFe: Enhancing Agility and Innovation

Architectural Patterns are basic solutions to complex technical problems. They help you identify the underlying principles and trade-offs of your solution.

SAFe is a popular framework that helps organizations develop better systems and software more rapidly by using Agile Release Trains. It requires a significant investment of time and effort to implement.


In a world of increasing volatility, disruption, and innovation, many organizations are hearing the call for business agility. However, achieving business agility isn’t just about shifting to Agile practices – it requires a transformation in the organization’s structure. This isn’t easy to do, but the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has developed a number of scaling capabilities that can help make the transition easier.

One of these capabilities is managing large programs using an approach known as Solution Trains. This involves bringing together multiple teams from each of the ARTs into a single program team that works on a specific value stream. Typically, the program team is led by a Scrum Master. This helps teams coordinate their work and deliver high-quality increments of value on a regular basis.

Another SAFe capability is the PI planning event, a two-day ceremony that occurs every eight to 12 weeks to align the goals of all teams within an ART. It’s similar to a sprint planning event but much bigger and more complex. The PI planning event also provides an opportunity to obtain stakeholder buy-in and create a shared vision for the team’s future.

In addition to these scaling capabilities, SAFe offers a framework for measuring progress toward business agility. The framework includes three measurement domains: Outcomes, Flow, and Competency. These measure the key competencies of business agility: Lean-Agile leadership, team and technical agility, and continuous learning culture.

The framework offers seven core competencies, and while an enterprise can achieve some benefits from just a few of these, true business agility requires significant mastery across all of them. Each of these competencies is described in a separate article, and a full understanding of all of them is essential to successfully implement the Scaled Agile Framework.


Today’s business environment is challenging for businesses of all types and sizes. Markets shift direction on a regular basis, and only companies that are able to adapt quickly and effectively to meet customer demands and develop solutions for their problems are able to compete. SAFe is a framework that provides the capabilities for this type of adaptive business.

The SAFe framework helps organizations create a dual operating system that is capable of responding to market opportunities and strategic challenges. While existing hierarchies, processes, and people remain in place, a second operating system is created that is organized around development value streams. This approach allows teams to work together and create innovative solutions in a short amount of time.

This new operating system is a combination of the Lean-Agile practices and organizational agility competencies that allow enterprises to rapidly respond to changing market conditions. This includes team and technical agility, DevOps and release on demand, agile engineering, and a continuous learning culture. It also requires a strong commitment from everyone involved to learn and adjust to the marketplace.

In addition, an effective SAFe implementation requires a unified vision and clear alignment from the organization’s leadership to its employees at every level. This is necessary to ensure that all decisions are made to deliver the best solution in the shortest sustainable lead time.

The SAFe architecture is designed to help the Enterprise navigate these unknowns and arrive at a desirable solution before the window of opportunity closes. This requires a rapid cycle of sensing and responding that fosters rapid learning and ultimately enables more favorable business outcomes. The SAFe architecture supports the flow of work through the BAVS, from recognizing an emerging opportunity to delivering the right solution.

A key element in this process is the use of integration points on a regular cadence to speed up the learning cycles and reduce risk. These integration points are based on Walter A Shewhart’s plan-do-check-adjust cycle and provide the capability for continuous improvement. This is essential for ensuring the quality of work delivered and ensuring that the solution meets all of its business needs.


In the fast-paced business environment that we live in, it’s not enough to be agile — you must also deliver innovative solutions to rapidly changing markets. This can only be accomplished if teams are fully engaged, supported, and empowered to make real-time decisions and changes with the customer in mind. This is the promise of Lean Agile.

To accomplish this, all members of the organization must be in alignment with one another and be confident in each other’s integrity, especially when it comes to making and meeting reasonable commitments. Without trust, it’s impossible to create a high-performing team or train that can deliver value quickly and with the highest quality possible.

One way to build and maintain this trust is by encouraging transparency and openness in all parts of the SAFe process, from top to bottom. This includes the ART Retrospectives, the Inspect and Adapt events for ARTs and Solution Trains, as well as the daily Scrum meetings. These practices allow organizations to make necessary adjustments quickly and effectively so that the new way of working will be as successful as possible.

Additionally, SAFe provides several tools that can be used to help communicate and understand these changes. Stories, features, and capabilities are all examples of how this information can be expressed in SAFe. While they have slightly different uses, each can provide the same information to a team in an easy-to-understand format. It’s important to note that the definition of a story, feature, and capability varies depending on the context in which they are being used.

These architectural patterns can help businesses of all sizes achieve the level of agility needed to thrive in today’s marketplace. However, integrating these new framework additions requires additional oversight, which is best done with the help of a trusted IT solutions partner. A Platinum Atlassian Solution Partner, like Contegix, can offer expert insight to make this integration efficient and drive the implementation process with existing project management software, such as Jira. This partnership will help teams quickly disseminate the new capabilities and get up and running in no time.


As the business landscape becomes more dynamic and accelerated, the ability of organizations to shift strategy to meet new challenges is essential. To keep up, many companies are turning to frameworks like Scaled Agile that help them scale agile processes and achieve business agility. One such framework is SAFe, which has recently been updated with a number of system improvements. These enhancements include the addition of measurement capabilities and a more streamlined way to implement security patterns. These changes can help teams drive better results with their existing project management software, such as Jira, and ensure that they are using SAFe properly.

As a result of these updates, SAFe 5.0 now includes seven core competencies that allow enterprises to maximize agile practices. These include team and technical agility, agile product delivery, enterprise solution delivery, lean portfolio management, and lean-thinking people and agile teams. In addition, the framework also focuses on organizational agility and a continuous learning culture.

With these capabilities, SAFe is able to improve and evolve agile practices by conducting regular inspections and adapting events at all levels of the organization. These events can help to identify potential issues, such as lack of collaboration or poor process, and provide opportunities for improvement. The agile methodology can then be used to address these issues and create a more effective operating environment.

In SAFe, the architecture runway is a concept that allows self-organizing teams to design the architecture they need based on the eleventh principle of the Agile Manifesto: “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.” This approach empowers the teams to make choices based on real-world circumstances. It also helps reduce cost and complexity by allowing the use of existing code, components, and technical infrastructure rather than a costly redesign.

To support this approach, SAFe focuses on the identification of architectural patterns and their relationships. These patterns are then analyzed for basic safety-related design decisions and mapped to the STRIDE security analysis model. Additionally, the patterns are structurally grouped into modules to make them easier for users to read and understand.

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