Scrum and SAFe Choosing the Ideal Agile Framework for Your Team

Scrum and SAFe: Choosing the Ideal Agile Framework for Your Team

Agile methodology is based on the collaboration of people, adaptive planning, cross-functional teamwork, frequent deliveries, and continual improvement. Though traditionally only used by software development teams, it is becoming increasingly popular among other industries as its many benefits become clear.

Despite the flexibility of Agile frameworks like Scrum or SAFe, choosing the right one for a given team or organization can present challenges.

This article will dive into two widely used options: Traditional Scrum and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to provide some insight into individual benefits and areas of comparison to consider in selecting an approach that best fits project needs and organizational goals.

Understanding Scrum

Scrum process


Scrum is an agile methodology or framework which enables teams to plan, execute and deliver projects by breaking them down into individual manageable iterations or sprints. It focuses on delivering high-value products and services based on customer feedback that can be completed within a fixed time frame (2 weeks).

The core principles of Scrum include being agile, iterative, flexible, focused around short deliverables, requiring collaboration between team members as well as good self-organization to tackle changes in direction at the outset. T

he product released should also be high quality so that those releasing average features soon get eliminated from the industry means Scrum closes the gap between people and technology. Lastly, the progress made by each iteration should add tangible business value to users otherwise it should not happen.

Roles and responsibilities in Scrum

Roles and responsibilities for product owner


The agile methodology emphasizes self-organization, collaboration, and instant feedback in order to rapidly deliver projects. Scrum is a popular Agile framework that outlines roles and responsibilities for delivering successful projects. The most essential roles in Scrum are Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Developer Team.

The Production Owner understands the core values of the project as well as what needs to be developed on a daily basis. They prioritize tasks based on importance and assist the developers with marketing strategies once their products have been released.

The Scrum Master facilitates change at both team and organizational levels so it can accommodate new software development techniques outlined by the Agile practices necessary to complete successfully the product life cycles from conception through release.

The developer team creates the products in an incremental approach that moves products gradually from the development cycle to completion. These core Scrum roles provide structure and guidance within the framework, ensuring projects run smoothly by trusted team members with defined areas of expertise.

Together they are responsible for completing project milestones, adapting quickly to changes and shifts within a project’s scope or timeline, and delivering worthwhile solutions efficiently.

Advantages and limitations of Scrum

The Scrum framework is designed to manage complex tasks by breaking complex projects into smaller, structured activities that promote high-impact collaboration among team members. A few of the advantages of this type of approach include predictable and reliable delivery against a timeline, reliability in meeting customer demands, flexibility for adapting changes quickly, and greater transparency leading to fewer errors.

Another benefit to using Scrum is its focus on results instead of paperwork or resources needed– helping teams get from concept to completed product faster.

However, there are some considerations when using Scrum effectively – each team member needs training and proper awareness regarding their responsibilities under the framework; stakeholders must be aware of where extra responsibility may arise as there is no ‘project manager’ supervision during any part of the process; and development processes with longer durations can become challenging under the framework breaking rule. Additionally, team burnout needs to be regularly monitored if teams are required to take up short deadlines for too long periods of time.

Exploring SAFe

SAFe 4 activities


SAFe stands for “Scaled Agile Framework.” It is a collection of tools and processes designed to help large organizations transition their teams from traditional software development approaches to Agile ways of working.

SAFe has five key components: Lean-Agile leadership, team, and technical agility, program portfolio management, DevOps, and fuller systems thinking.

These components seek to effectively create an agile organizational structure by supporting teams with the right organizational structures; providing clear job roles and guidance; cascading metrics throughout the enterprise; operationalizing involvement of all stakeholders (i.e., customers); and encouraging rapid execution cycles.

Together, these elements enable leaders to develop complex projects in shorter sprints through increased collaboration between distributed teams while remaining connected to core business objectives.

Roles and responsibilities in SAFe

Product management collaborate with multiple stakeholders


SAFe is an Agile framework based on the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). It distills and structures multiple Agile approaches into a single unified approach for maximum agility at scale. In SAFe, teams are composed of cross-functional members who engage in different roles and responsibilities, breaking out of traditional organizational silos to achieve more potent ways of working together and adapting their processes periodically.

Teams are intertwined with the organization’s greater strategy, where engaging activities take place across responsibility fields such as engineering, operations, or product management.

The key roles within this distributed practice are System Architect/Engineer, Product Manager/Product Owner, Analysis/UX Designer, Continuous Delivery Engineer (DevOps), Program Leader, and Embedded Team Member.

Each role is tightly interrelated within a matrix organization, but with autonomous and specialized functions. This approach enables teams to rapidly deliver, and reorient reactive improvement plans based on delivers and strategic planning where synergies must be actualized or problems corrected. Interestingly enough, traditional roles are only valued if the goal of completing processes timeously is realized autonomously.

Advantages and limitations of SAFe

SAFe, or the Scaled Agile Framework, is a popular Agile methodology focused on larger/scalable teams and projects.

Among its advantages are increased scalability and flexibility to accommodate large Agile teams; heightened levels of coordination among multiple stakeholders; reduction of waste throughout process cycles; and efficient task management via well-defined methods such as subsetting and breaking up iterations into months or sprints.

While there are various distinct advantages inherent in this framework, there can be some limitations related to team size increases that occur when scaling with SAFe.

When frameworks become larger in scope, roles, and responsibilities may start becoming unclear- communications tensions alike can arise between development and operations- making it harder to move forward with any level of agility.

It’s also important to keep in mind SAFe is centered on a steady pace of iteration which requires reliable/consistent remote collaboration and cooperation between teams as stakeholders work independently.

Comparing Scrum and SAFe

SAFe vs Scrum


Team size and scalability considerations

When it comes to team size and scalability, Scrum and SAFe can offer very different experiences. Scrum is generic enough that teams of any size are welcome to use the framework, and each person still typically takes on multiple roles within a single project or product. Therefore, at its core, Scrum is perfect for small-scale software projects with an adaptive development process because only dedicated resources are required.

On the other hand, SAFe requires more commitment since large organizations — such as enterprises — need to adopt it and model their departments according to SAFe’s holistic approach. This means incentives must be introduced while different processes need reengineering, making this Agile framework a suitable solution from medium-to-large-sized software projects requiring an agile methodology. Ultimately, developers will need to take on roles and responsibilities determined by the SAFe framework setup.

Project management and coordination differences

When comparing Scrum and SAFe, project management and coordination differences are particularly evident.

With the scrum framework, daily stand-up meetings take place designed to maintain effective communication between the team members throughout different stages of the project.

Small teams benefit from less hierarchical scalability when using this methodology as well. On the other hand, projects benefit from enhanced coordination on a larger scale more appropriate for distributed teams or multiple teams when using SAFe.

This Coordination happens through a portfolio release plan set in motion by strategic leaders working closely with each team’s delivery objectives concerning budget creation, utilization plans, sprint arrangements, and product roadmaps among other recurrent activities related to gaining visibility on timeline control.

Flexibility and adaptability in both frameworks

Scrum and SAFe are both Agile frameworks that offer organizations flexibility and agility in how they manage software projects. The similarities end there, however, as the two frameworks enable teams in different ways.

Scrum is less rigid than SAFe—due to its adaptability and incremental iterations—making it suitable for smaller projects with a single team or with individual cross-functional teams of two to ten members.

By contrast, SAFe requires greater organizational coordination and process maturity necessary for large-scale enterprise endeavors that have eight disciplines working together on multiple sprints over prolonged periods of time.

With extremely prescriptive templates (editable by Solutions Architects) guiding quick 3-6-month deployments from start to finish and nine defined roles each at varying levels, SAFe brings a level of sophistication to agility that is harder to visualize in Scrum.

Culture and organizational fit

When comparing Scrum and SAFe in terms of their impact on organizational fit, the most important point to consider is whether the cultural structure of a team is conducive to adopting either of the two methods. Generally speaking, Scrum may be better suited for organizations that have smaller teams while SAFe’s larger structure allows it to cater better to large-scale organizations.

However, in terms of cultural affinity, choosing between either one depends on a more nuanced assessment taking into account how ‘Agile’ an organization already is – newer projects convinced with little training will do better with SCRUM while organizations who are tilted on Agile need to reteach SAFe structures can facilitate faster decision making blinder areas near silos easier compared to the scrum.

Moreover, SAFe gives a substantial degree of flexibility which would be otherwise difficult to integrate with Scrum. Additionally SAFe has been designed to accommodate the needs of release and program-level planning relevant to large-scale organizations while Scrums covers simpler project repents spanning shorter duration and limited teams.


Agile methodologies offer businesses the flexibility and adaptability to complete projects quickly and efficiently. But it is essential to team success that the right Agile framework is chosen for each team project.

Scrum and SAFe are two Agile frameworks, both offering valuable advantages when employed with tactical consideration of development goals, team size, culture fit, scalability constraints, etc. Scrum systematizes safety inspection procedures by hyper-focusing on project completion and encourages autonomy within members while also allowing for faster solutions.

On the other hand, SAFe’s development structure reflects its own focus on scaling flows through “delegating work from upper-level management downwards throughout teams.” Each strategy has its pros and cons which must be weighed based on the purpose, as they both offer significant advantages when tailored to a team’s lifestyle.

Organizations must carefully assess which of these two popular Agile frameworks best fits their project or situation before dealing with any platforms and choosing its workforce dynamics accordingly to maximize success rate and long-term growth possibilities.


Ryan is the VP of Operations for He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations--delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.
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Ryan Nead