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Scrum vs SAFe: Identifying the right Agile framework for your team

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Updated on:
June 30, 2024
June 30, 2024
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Deciding between Scrum and SAFe for driving your Agile implementation heavily relies on factors such as team dependencies, organizational structures, and strategic vision. The cool thing about Scrum development is it promotes a flexible, holistic product development strategy, and there, development teams work as a unit to reach a common goal. 

Alongside this, it follows Agile project management and Agile techniques for software development that focus on keeping iterations short and manageable.

On the contrary, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) integrates Agile and Lean ideas into a single framework. It's apparent that it's suitable for larger software teams or engineering teams within more complex organizational structures. 

Understanding Agile frameworks

It stands to reason that frameworks are a set of methodologies for project management, highly prevalent in software development. The notable thing is they are built around Agile and Lean ideas, with a focus on flexibility, team dependencies, and continuous improvement. There is no doubt that Agile techniques allow software teams and engineering teams to swiftly respond to changes and deliver value faster.

What’s important to highlight is the Agile implementation approach fosters dynamic organizational structures and promotes development philosophies that are customer-centric. Usually, key elements include:

  • Clearly defined team roles
  • A strategic vision
  • The use of Agile project management tools like Scrum development

What is Agile?

It goes without saying that Agile is a project management and product development strategy commonly employed by software teams and engineering groups. 

Link to Project Management

The beneficial thing about this is it is a management methodology incorporating Agile and Lean ideas, originally derived from software development, that supports the strategic vision and encourages flexible responses to changes. 

It is significant to note that key features of Agile techniques include a focus on team roles and dependencies and iterative progress towards a defined goal.

What’s interesting is this approach reflects the values and principles expressed in the Agile Manifesto. Remember Agile implementation is tied to various development philosophies such as Scrum development. It’s astonishing how it also shapes the organizational structures by helping to cope with changes! 

Create Your Project Management System with Bonsai

Creating your project management system with Bonsai involves leveraging its suite of tools to streamline and optimize your project workflows. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you set up your system:

How to Create Your Project Management System with Bonsai

Bonsai offers a robust set of tools that can be customized to create your ideal project management system. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started:

1. Define your project management needs

  • Team Size and Structure:  Are you a small team or a larger organization? Bonsai caters well to smaller and mid-sized businesses.
  • Project Types:  What types of projects will you manage? Bonsai excels with project-based workflows.
  • Desired Features:  Identify key functionalities you need, like task management, time tracking, or client collaboration.
Link to Task Management

2. Set up your Bonsai workspace

  • Create Projects:  For each project, create a dedicated space within Bonsai. This will provide a central hub for all project-related information.
  • Customize Project Templates (Optional):  If you manage similar projects frequently, consider creating project templates with pre-defined tasks and workflows for faster setup.
  • Invite Team Members and Clients (Optional):  Grant access to relevant individuals based on their roles within the project. Bonsai facilitates seamless collaboration.

3. Organize your project workflow

  • Break Down Projects into Tasks:  Create clear and concise tasks within each project. Utilize Bonsai's features like deadlines, assignees, and dependencies to maintain workflow structure.
  • Utilize Boards and Lists (Optional):  Bonsai offers Kanban boards for visualizing workflow stages or simple to-do lists to manage tasks within each project. Choose the method that best suits your team's needs.
Link to Task Management

4. Reports and dashboards

Utilize Bonsai's reporting features to track progress, identify bottlenecks, and measure team performance. This data helps you continuously refine your project management system.

  • Regular Reviews:  Schedule regular team discussions to evaluate your project management system's effectiveness. Adapt and adjust Bonsai's features based on your team's feedback.
Link to Project Health

Bonsai is a flexible tool. Don't be afraid to experiment and customize your project management system to fit your team's specific needs and workflow. By following these steps and continuously optimizing your approach, you can leverage Bonsai to create a streamlined and efficient project management system that fosters success.

Importance of Agile frameworks in project management

Stunningly, Agile frameworks have revolutionized project management, in particular, in the fields of software development and engineering teams. One noticeable thing is they are predicated on Agile and Lean ideas, encapsulating development philosophies that focus on adaptive planning, evolutionary development as well as timely delivery.

The best thing is through the implementation of Agile techniques, management methodology is transformed which enables Agile project management to often outperform traditional models. This is achieved through strategic vision.

Introduction to Scrum

One thing is for certain: Scrum is a robust project management methodology, commonly used by engineering and software teams for Agile implementation of software development. What’s worth highlighting is it is a framework that promotes Agile and Lean ideas and Agile techniques that give a structure for bringing team roles and team dependencies into cohesion.

As a part of Agile project management, Scrum transforms traditional hierarchical organizational structures, promoting a culture of collaboration, continuous improvement, etc. Undoubtedly, its ability to tackle complexity and adapt to changing conditions makes Scrum one of the most popular development philosophies in modern-day organizational practices.

Key principles of Scrum

It’s interesting to point out that rooted in Agile and Lean ideas, ‘Scrum’ provides an approach to handling complex projects via iterative processes, that advances transparency and continuous improvement. One notable thing is key principles include:

  • The strategic vision
  • Roles of the team roles
  • Team dependencies

What’s worth noticing is Scrum development revolves around self-organizing, cross-functional software teams. 

Roles and responsibilities in Scrum

It is crucial to highlight that each team member adopts specific roles and responsibilities in Scrum, The obvious thing about this is there are three primary roles in Scrum: 

  • The Scrum Master
  • The owner of the Product Owner
  • The Development Team 

Don't forget that the Scrum Master fosters an environment where Agile and Lean ideas are implemented effectively. Inevitably, the Product Owner determines the liaises with stakeholders together with managing the product backlog.

Finally, the development team, often composed of software teams, is responsible for delivering high-quality increments of the product at the end of each sprint.

Benefits of using Scrum

Certainly, highly prized by engineering and software teams, this system improves management practices and organizational structures within a firm.

The noticeable thing is Scrum development brings the following benefits: 

  • It fosters Agile and Lean ideas
  • Cultivates dynamic development philosophies

Ultimately, by optimizing team dependencies, Scrum enables efficient project management through Agile techniques.

Introduction to SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

The great thing about the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is it is a robust project management methodology built on Agile and Lean ideas. The surprising thing is it is designed to guide software teams, engineering teams, and entire organizational structures to implement Agile techniques effectively at scale. 

Remember, SAFe integrates development philosophies, strategic vision, and management practices, and, usually, it defines team roles and handles team dependencies in a comprehensive way. 

One notable thing is the framework not only facilitates Agile project management but also consists of a Scrum development component. Definitely this aids in the smooth execution of software development projects. 

Key principles of SAFe

What’s obvious is that the SAFe framework equips software teams and engineering teams with a strategic vision and development philosophies so that they can manage the complexities of large-scale development projects.

It’s no secret that it emphasizes the Agile implementation throughout various organizational structures and creates clarity on team roles and team dependencies. 

Roles and responsibilities in SAFe

One notable thing is in the SAFe model, team roles and responsibilities are defined according to agile and lean ideas. The management methodology focuses on project management, with teams aligning their workflows and actions to achieve strategic vision. Particularly, this typically involves software teams using agile techniques and scrum development models.

It goes without saying that the responsibilities across engineering teams may vary but embody the core principles of agile implementation. It’s relevant to mention that these include:

  • Coordination of cross-team dependencies
  • Altering organizational structures in favor of iterations
  • Adaptation of software development

It is vital to note that SAFe highlights a cultural shift towards collaborative project management, transparency in decision-making, and short, frequent feedback loops.

Benefits of using SAFe

The surprising thing about using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is it incorporates Agile and Lean ideas into an effective project management methodology. Frequently, it offers benefits such as increased employee engagement, better quality, and continuous delivery. It's worth noting that it suits any software development or engineering team irrespective of their organizational structure.

It’s irrefutable that with SAFe, teams can keep a strategic vision while implementing Agile techniques. One thing is clear: By employing SAFe, Agile project management becomes a process that is as easy as pie! And it takes software teams to new heights.

Comparing Scrum and SAFe

It would not be an overstatement to say, “Scrum and SAFe are both designed to structure project management in software development.” Scrum is a management methodology that focuses on individual software teams, often used by smaller organizations or on unique projects. 

On the other hand, SAFe(Scaled Agile Framework); extends Agile and Lean ideas to larger, complex organizations. Happily, it establishes development philosophies and organizational structures that align teams around a strategic vision. It’s an obvious thing that SAFe is therefore preferred by larger entities and engineering teams which require the synchronization and coordination of multiple Scrum development teams.

Scrum vs SAFe: Team size

Particularly in terms of team size, Scrum recommends small development teams typically consisting of seven plus or minus two members. Importantly, this Agile implementation is meant for projects that require continuous attention along with ongoing interaction among members due to their complexity. It's a matter of fact that Agile techniques focusing on individual interactions are significantly encouraged.

On the other hand, SAFe or Scaled Agile Framework is designed for large engineering teams and organizational structures. Remember, this Agile project management approach aligns with facets like team roles. Definitely it accommodates larger team dependencies and complex software development initiatives.

Scrum vs SAFe: Flexibility and control

The obvious thing about Scrum and SAFe is they are two distinct Agile project management methodologies. It is noteworthy that Scrum development is typically favored by smaller software teams, as it provides more flexibility and less strict control over team roles and team dependencies. The good news is this can encourage creativity and innovation, as engineering teams are given more freedom to make their own decisions. 

On the Contrary, SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) applies Agile and Lean ideas on a larger scale, making it more suitable for larger organizational structures. Mainly it provides more control. Typically this makes it a more structured approach compared to Scrum, which while limiting flexibility– can ensure a more efficient Agile implementation and, at the same time, amazingly, help maintain consistency in software development!

Scrum vs SAFe: Implementation complexity

Scrum and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) both utilize Agile and Lean ideas, but differ in implementation complexity. Usually Scrum is best suited for smaller software teams given its emphasis on simplistic, flexible management methodology. What's obvious is it focuses heavily on project management within team roles, limiting team dependencies.

In contrast, SAFe is designed for larger engineering teams and complex organizational structures. It's a cool thing that it combines Agile techniques with a strategic vision that makes it ideal for multifaceted software development. However, the worrying thing about the expanded scope and more complex development philosophies is they make its Agile implementation more challenging compared to Scrum development.

Choosing the right framework for your team

It's indisputable that choosing the right framework for your team can be pivotal in successful software development. It’s worth noting that consideration has to be made in relation to the following things:

  1. The strategic vision
  2. Dependencies of the team

One thing is proven: It's imperative to select a management methodology that aligns well with your organization’s structures and development philosophies.

Always remember that the right framework should streamline processes and foster productivity.

When to choose Scrum

Don’t forget that Scrum development should be selected as a management methodology when the project requires constant changes and the ability to quickly adapt according to dynamic business requirements. What’s intriguing is Agile techniques, such as Scrum– often used in software development sectors where uncertainty is a routine factor. 

Choose Scrum when your organizational structures have a strategic vision of Agile and Lean ideas implementation. It goes without saying that Scrum is great for projects where team dependencies are low, and where team roles are allowed to overlap. The good news is it's particularly effective for software teams, engineering teams, and any other team that relies on Agile project management.

When to choose SAFe

Usually, The SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) management methodology should be chosen when software development needs to handle larger and more complex projects involving multiple software teams with team roles, dependencies, and other organizational structures. It's safe to say that it becomes particularly useful when traditional Agile techniques alone can't support the extensive requirements and result in inadequate strategic vision.

The remarkable thing about the SAFe framework is it is heavily based on Agile and Lean ideas. Regularly it also shapes development philosophies for engineering teams that make sure a cohesive approach to project management. 

Transitioning from Scrum to SAFe

There is no denying that transitioning from Scrum to SAFe involves a shift in project management methodology that incorporates Agile and Lean ideas more comprehensively. What’s evident is this transition requires changes in organizational structures, development philosophies, etc. 

It’s widely recognized that the new process focuses on Agile implementation, encompassing roles at all levels in the engineering teams. This, in turn, extends from team roles to understanding and managing team dependencies. 

Mostly reflecting a broader Agile project management approach, the SAFe model addresses complexities involved with coordinating multiple Scrum development teams together with scaling up for larger software development projects.

Steps to transition from Scrum to SAFe

It’s commonly accepted that transitioning from Scrum to SAFe involves incorporating Agile and Lean ideas into a strategic vision for software development. There is no doubt that this begins by extending Scrum's development philosophies and Agile techniques to multiple software teams. Generally management methodology changes include the realignment of the organizational structures as Agile implementation expands to the program and portfolio levels.

One interesting thing is key considerations should be given to the following things:

  • The mapping out of team dependencies
  • Clarification of team roles
  • Adjusting Agile Project Management Strategies 

Frequently, this process demands a methodical effort across engineering teams to accommodate the complexities of scaled Agile operations.

Challenges in transitioning from Scrum to SAFe

It’s a worrying thing that transitioning from Scrum to Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) often poses several challenges. Take the example of altering team roles, and aligning different software teams with the strategic vision. Some of the hurdles include:

  • Translating Agile techniques into broader management methodology within SAFe.
  • Promoting a wholesome shift in development philosophies to incorporate Agile and Lean ideas.

But, don’t worry. Here’s good news! These challenges can be mitigated through consistent Agile implementation, Agile project management and continuous adaptation of software development practices.

Real-World examples of Scrum and SAFe implementation

What’s fascinating is that Software companies like IBM and Cisco utilize Scrum, an Agile project management technique. This involves frequent stand-up meetings, constant updates, as well as the flexibility to adapt and respond to changes. The surprising thing is these companies have seen significant improvements in productivity and time-to-market due to this Agile implementation.

What’s worth highlighting is SAFe is another Agile and Lean management methodology adopted by companies like Intel to govern software teams. It’s a matter of fact that this framework takes into account the larger organizational structures and team dependencies, and helps align the team's tasks with the strategic vision of the company. It’s astounding how this results in the efficient development of software!

Scrum in Action: Spotify

It’s apparent that Spotify– the popular music streaming service, has successfully implemented Scrum development strategies that showcase Agile project management. Generally, grounded in Agile and Lean ideas, this management methodology allows for clear articulation of team roles as well as the efficient management of team dependencies. 

There is no denying that Spotify’s strategic vision is evident in their successful Agile implementation which contributes significantly to the company's triumph in the competitive tech industry.

SAFe in Action: Cisco systems

As a global leader in IT and networking, Cisco Systems has relied on Agile project management methodologies to enhance its software development processes. The fascinating thing is the company has successfully employed SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) to ease team dependencies and streamline engineering team roles incredibly. It is generally agreed that this strategic vision and Agile implementation have facilitated an organizational restructuring. 

It’s apparent that the use of Scrum development within the software teams fuels a spirit of continuous improvement and quality output across various projects and teams.

One thing is for certain: This transformation has absolutely revolutionized Cisco’s project management approach. It’s stunning how this makes a vast difference in deadline adherence, budget management, and overall product quality!


One thing is proven: Agile techniques have revolutionized project management across numerous industries. Inarguably, the fusion of Agile and Lean ideas has brought about transformative changes in software development, specifically in managing software teams while streamlining management methodology within organizational structures. 

It's a matter of fact that this has proven particularly impactful within engineering teams, advancing stronger team roles and identifying core team dependencies.

Furthermore, Agile implementation has evolved to encompass broader development philosophies and drive improvements in Agile project management. It's indisputable that this reflects the growing recognition of the benefits of Agile within complex project environments along with underscoring the growing relevance of these methods in contemporary software development practice.

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