Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guide: LeSS or SAFe - which direction?

As an enterprise choosing an agile framework, you may be stuck with the choice: Which one is better? Having expertise in both of them, I have provided a small decision making guideline to help in your decision. There is no "good" or "bad", "better" or "worse" framework, but a list of factors based on your organization's reality that make either of them more or less suitable in context. Here is the checklist including a small explanation:

Current state

Which traits strongly describe your organization at this moment? Only make a check where you think "Yes, that's definitely a driving factor". The factors are split into "constraints" and "enablers". A Constraint reduces your potential level of agility, while enablers foster higher agility.
Many enablers would support a LeSS adoption, but the constraints need to be dealt with prior to introducing LeSS. SAFe, on the other hand, has been tailored to accomodate existing constraints and can be adopted even if there are few enablers present initially.

Optimization goals

Which benefits do you hope to gain from adopting an agile framework in your organization? The goals are weighted against each other, so you need to choose whether you want to balance them or tend into a specific direction. Tendency to the right will be more in line with a LeSS adoption. A tendency to the left will be more in line with the SAFe framework.


Completing the checklist does not provide a prescriptive direction for implementation, rather a tendency on which framework you should research first. It may still be useful to look into the other framework, but odds are that at the current moment, you will find more value in researching the indicated framework.

Change over time

Regardless of the outcome you get from this simple guide, you may want to revisit this guide after a few months or years. If the indicators show a different trend, it might be useful to consider taking a closer look at the other framework.

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