Abstract for: Managerial Implications and Comparative Effects of SAFe Scaled Agile Methods in Government Software Acquisition

As Lean-Agile software development methods have become more prevalent at the practitioner level, an important question has arisen about how these small team methods can scale to meet the needs of larger organizations from the department to the enterprise level. Dean Leffingwell’s Scaled Agile Framework for LEAN Software Development (SAFe) incorporates a number of Lean-Agile best practices and has become a leading proposition for how to achieve these ends by scaling the operational model for software creation and delivery at scale. One of the questions that managers, and particularly government managers, raise is how Lean-Agile practices such as SAFe can fit within their organizations and meet the control regulations and requirements with which they must comply. To help these managers visualize the application of Lean-Agile practices using SAFe and how it might work for them, we have used System Dynamics modeling to investigate the operational characteristics of SAFe and build a prototype model that can be used as a learning tool and as the basis for future extension into decision support simulations to evaluate alternative organizational transformations based on SAFe. The key objective is qualitative understanding of the implications of possible scenarios rather than precise numeric metrics. The System Dynamics model-based investigation also allows SAFe to be compared structurally to other alternative approaches.