The best books about SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

The best books about SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

The Author:
Alyona Lubchak
Alyona Lubchak,
SAFe program consultant

The best books about SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) is one of the most popular frameworks in Agile scaling. Despite SAFe site being a knowledge base where each icon reveals an article with the description of a certain object, a book-length format with suggestions and SAFe description is still in high demand.

Hence, having been armed with all the books we could possibly find on, we have compiled a list of books with the help of which you could enrich your knowledge on SAFe.

1. Scaling Software Agility: Best Practices for Large Enterprises (Agile Software Development) by Dean Leffingwell

This book gives a clear view on the concepts which were eventually the foundation of SAFe framework. The first part describes Agile practices while the second and third ones depict the best practices to help build Agile Enterprise and get scaled. To read the original thoughts of the creator of the framework is incredibly interesting indeed, well, at least for our team it is. Besides, unlike his other book, SAFe 4.5 Reference Guide: Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Enterprises, this one is still relevant even now, whereas in the latest paperback book, pretty much all the articles from the website are collected. We mainly recommend using it as a handbook rather than the book one should read from cover to cover. However, taking into consideration the release of the newer version of the framework, regrettably, some of the articles have lost their relevance. We are looking forward to the updated version of this book.


2. The ART of Avoiding a Train Wreck: Practical Tips and Tricks for Launching and Operating SAFe Agile Release Trains by Em Campbell-Pretty

This book in particular is a set of hints, prompts, lifehacks and answers to the practical questions on how to implement SAFe. You will not learn with its help what SAFe is (though you will from our webinar), but you will find the author’s suggestions on other just as much pertinent issues like:

  • Should you commence with the definition of Value Streams or just launch the first ART and see what happens?
  • How to properly work with vendors within ART?
  • How to teach your colleagues SAFe correctly?
  • How to appoint the right people for the key roles of RTE, SM, PO, Epic Owners, etc.?
  • What to do if your initial ART design is wrong?
  • Whether specifically you need System Team & Shared Services?

along with other pressing issues which will undoubtedly arise while implementing SAFe. It is simply a must read for those who practise SAFe.

3. Pacific Express by Alex Yakyma

This book is written in the manner of a business novel, just like “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt or “Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim. The story begins from the point when a team that works on Agile programme cannot deliver a fully functioning software. As a result, they decide to launch Agile Release Train and the action really strikes in as they fail at system demo at the end of their first sprint. The book ends with “In fact, it is only the beginning of a learning journey    that knows no    end. But there    is something different    about Pacific    Express now.    They have learned, although    it was through    much pain, how to deliver end-to-end value. That should open their eyes to    all other things.” Another must read for those who is getting ready for their first Agile Release Train or is planning to implement SAFe.

4. The Rollout: A Novel about Leadership and Building a Lean-Agile Enterprise with SAFe® by Alex Yakyma

As you must have guessed already from its name, the book is a novel. It was written in the same style as the previous work by this author. The book tells of the SAFe implementation process in a big company. It is a made-up story, though there are a lot of real implementations of SAFe and many pitfalls in the basis of the book which the author himself faced. The storytelling is done by the character called Ethan, a newly appointed manager of a transformation group at a large product company Vera Comm System. His company is rapidly losing its market share due to overly complex communication processes; they promise too much but deliver too little. To help Ethan there comes Addy, a consultant on SAFe implementation. Everything, from the process of launching the first and subsequent ART, portfolio implementation, a variety of problems Ethan faces and his options on how to deal with those ones will be found in this book. A must read for those who is about to implement SAFe at large companies.

5. SAFe PI Planning: A Step-By-Step Guide by Liam Kane

This is more of a handbook rather than a book on implementing SAFe PI Planning. It concisely describes the key ceremonies of SAFe PI Planning, Execution. It will be perfect for you if you need a very laconic retelling of key thoughts, ceremonies of SAFe. To illustrate, not the classical SAFe patterns from the site are used, but a simplified vision of the 3 different levels of SAFe. It slightly makes the process of associating the classical pattern with the presented in the book harder.

6. Get SAFe Now: A Lightning Introduction to the Most Popular Scaling Framework on Agile by Mohammed Musthafa Soukath Ali

Just as the previous book on SAFe PI Planning: A Step-By-Step Guide by Liam Kane, it also doesn’t give a detailed description of the framework. It presents in an original format the key concepts of SAFe such as levels of SAFe, portfolio, Agile team, planning and PI delivery, etc. At the end of every term or a ceremony, 1 – 2 questions are provided for self-check. And just like in the previous book, drawings and patterns by the author are used instead of the classical ones, which also complicates its reading and interpretation.

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We hope you are now ready to deepen your SAFe knowledge! And we will be happy to help you with this at our certification trainings.