SAFe 4.5 Goes Live: Top 5 Reasons to Update

SAFe 4.5 Goes Live: Top 5 Reasons to Update

SAFe Updates

Hi Folks,

About 18 months ago, we launched SAFe 4.0, a major upgrade that delivered innovations for Lean software and systems engineering. It represented a major milestone of maturity for the Framework, and has enjoyed widespread popularity, including being named the #1 scaling framework by VersionOne’s State of Agile Report.

That tells us we were on the right track. But digital disruption is driving innovation at speeds we’ve never seen before, so while enterprises have been busy practicing SAFe, we’ve been busy making sure that the Framework continues to keep pace with emerging development and technology trends.

And so, today we are delighted to announce the release of SAFe 4.5! It’s a reflection of field research from hundreds of implementations, feedback from our customers and community, and new advances made in the knowledge pools upon which SAFe is built. As you learn more, we believe you’ll find 4.5 to be leaner, more Agile, and better at fostering faster innovation and learning than any of its predecessors.

SAFe’s name gets a makeover

We like to think of SAFe as a big tent framework that can accommodate any organization, regardless of size or complexity. As you know, SAFe isn’t just about IT, systems, and software. It’s part of a larger solution development picture, and we absolutely want to be sure that message is front and center for our internal and external business partners, as well as the community at large. So we’ve updated its name to reflect this more inclusive theme. The Framework is now known as SAFe for Lean Enterprises.

Top 5 Reasons to Update to SAFe 4.5

SAFe 4.5 delivers advancements in configurability, implementation guidance, and enhanced capabilities for improving the user experience and accelerating time-to-market. Below is a short summary of the primary enhancements to SAFe; for the in-depth view please refer to Whats New in SAFe 4.5.

  1. Additional flexibility with four new configurations: SAFe 4.5 supports the full range of development environments, from the simplest to the most complex. As the needs of the organization grow, SAFe is able to scale to meet those challenges. SAFe now comes with four out-of-box configurations, starting with ‘Essential SAFe,’ the entry point for organizations that want to start realizing the benefits as soon as possible. A click of the mouse will configure ‘Portfolio SAFe,’ adding portfolio-level concerns, including strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio opeations, and Lean governance to the picture. ‘Large Solution’ SAFe is for those building really big systems that take multiple Agile Release Trains and Suppliers to build. And finally ‘Full SAFe,’ for the larger enterprises that wants to achieve all the benefits of the truly Lean and Agile enterprise.

  2. Faster innovation with the Lean Startup Cycle and Lean UX : The integration of Lean startup practices and Lean UX in SAFe fosters an environment where investments start as a hypothesis in the form of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and feedback is introduced as early as possible to test ideas and make decisions more quickly. If the hypothesis plays out, additional features then make their way through the respective backlogs. If not, fast learning allows the business to pivot to a more desirable solution—and quickly.

  3. Accelerated new feature delivery with Scalable DevOps and Continuous Delivery Pipeline: Of course, you can’t likely get the feedback you need if you can’t move all those new ideas into production more quickly. To that end, the centerpiece of SAFe 4.5 is the integration of the Lean ‘hypothesis-build-measure-learn’ cycle with Scalable DevOps and a Continuous Delivery Pipeline. These new SAFe mechanisms enable the organization to continuously define and deliver solution elements to the end user, without large handoffs or excessive operations overhead. The result is a production environment that is able to deliver value more frequently, where hypotheses can be tested against their intended business outcomes, and where the deployed solution has both the flexibility and robustness needed to deliver more innovative solutions, far more quickly. You may well be a big enterprise, but you can innovate, and SAFe 4.5 can help show you how. 

  4. Improved guidance with the SAFe Implementation Roadmap: We can all admit that becoming a SAFe Lean-Agile enterprise is quite a journey, and a significant organizational change. To that end, we’ve provided new guidance in the form of a 12 article series, the ‘SAFe Implementation Roadmap.’ Based on proven organizational change management strategies and extensive field experience, the Roadmap describes the critical moves that an enterprise can take to achieve early wins and sustainable long-term gains with SAFe.

  5. SAFe 4.5 is fully backwards compatible. And finally, here’s some additional good news:  If you are already on a SAFe 4.0 journey, SAFe 4.5 is backwards compatible. All the features in 4.0 that you’ve come to depend on are still in place. You can adopt the advanced practices of SAFe 4.5 at your own pace, and derive the additional benefits without rocking the boat of your current implementation. 

Click here to get the full rundown of the new features.

In addition to the new 4.5 content, all the 4.0 articles have been updated as well, so there is much more to learn, and gain. For those of you who are certified, you’ll find a What’s New in SAFe 4.0 video on the SAFe Community Platform that will help you learn about the new features, and upgrade your certification so that you can support enterprises seeking SAFe 4.5 implementation.

SAFe Version 4.0 Available Through June, 2018

We encourage you to update to SAFe 4.5 to take advantage of the new features, but recognize that there are enterprises that will need the 4.0 version for some time to come. SAFe 4.0 will be supported throughout June, 2018.

Courseware Updates

Three courses from Scaled Agile’s role-based curriculum have been already updated to reflect the new features of SAFe 4.5. They include: Implementing SAFe, Leading SAFe, and SAFe for Teams. The remaining courses will be updated over the coming weeks.

It is our sincere hope that this new version helps you and your enterprise achieve the benefits you all deserve for working so hard at building the world’s biggest, and best, software and systems. 

We owe a special thanks to you, our SAFe community, for all your feedback and support. Your passion for the best SAFe possible has driven us to deliver what we like to think of as the most adaptable—and now configurable—framework in the world.

We do all this simply because ‘better systems make the world a better place.’

Stay SAFe!
—Dean, Richard, Inbar, and the entire team from Scaled Agile

Dean Leffingwell, Creator of SAFe, Chief Methodologist
Richard Knaster, SAFe Fellow and Principal Consultant
Inbar Oren, SAFe Fellow and Principal Consultant

Author Info

Dean Leffingwell

Recognized as the one of the world’s foremost authorities on Lean-Agile best practices, Dean Leffingwell is an author, entrepreneur, and software development methodologist.

comment (24)

  1. Can Huzmeli

    26 Jul 2017 - 3:00 am


    Thanks for the article.

    Are the training materials ready for SAFe 4.5 ? I am attending to Leading SAFe certification training but I am given SAFe 4 documents as pre-reading. They mentioned that they are still waiting for the official whitepaper. Do you suggest to wait for the official materials before taking the certification exam?

  2. Bala Swaminathan

    12 Jul 2017 - 4:48 pm

    Great to see continuous improvement made to SAFe Framework. SAFe 4.5 have a nice configurable palette option to configure the framework to our business needs.

    My question:
    For those that are currently certified as SPC 4.0, do we need to undergo the entire process i.e. attend 4.5 training/certification session to upgrade to SPC 4.5 ? (or) read the new material covering topics introduced in 4.5 and all SPC 4.0 certifications will be transferred to SPC 4.5? I would appreciate your clarification.
    Thank you.

    • Dean Leffingwell

      Dean Leffingwell

      12 Jul 2017 - 5:38 pm

      Hi Bala,
      I think this question is answered in one of the threads below.

  3. Lin Wang

    28 Jun 2017 - 7:44 pm

    I am glad to see SAFe improving itself continuously.

  4. Francis N Sothy

    26 Jun 2017 - 12:14 pm

    Great upgrade Dean & company! Many gaps articulated well and in some areas gaps we have yet to experience. Great Job!

  5. Randy Schmidt

    23 Jun 2017 - 7:03 am

    Congratulations! Putting ‘essential SAFe’ in proper perspective with configurable SAFe really helps on the SAFe Journey –

    Thank you for continued Thought Leadership in our industry.

    • Dean Leffingwell

      Dean Leffingwell

      23 Jun 2017 - 7:42 am

      Thanks for the feedback Randy. It took a while to figure out how to integrate Essential SAFe without making SAFe seem more complex, but it seems to work pretty well as the base configuration.

  6. Robert Seebauer

    23 Jun 2017 - 1:02 am

    The continuous delivery pipeline saved my day, thx!

  7. Vino Kingston

    22 Jun 2017 - 4:28 pm

    Great job. Congratulations!!

  8. Nimeshkumar Patel

    22 Jun 2017 - 11:22 am


    Glad to see the continuous improvement and evolution to the framework. Very happy to see the Spanning palette update and new positioning as I was always a bit concerned to have it only limited to the 3rd and 4th level SAFe and not practicing or needing at Essential level!

    Thank you.

  9. Gail Ferreira

    22 Jun 2017 - 9:41 am

    The upgrade to version 4.5 is fascinating, and I will be looking forward to reviewing all of the videos and training materials. I am particularly interested in seeing now Faster innovation with the Lean Startup Cycle and Lean UX will correlate with the creation of Value Streams. I would think that creating MVP would need to be very fast so wondering how it will work. Will this be covered?
    Thanks, Gail

  10. Michael Jay Strong

    22 Jun 2017 - 7:42 am

    So glad to see the evolution continuing. It seems you’ve really identified some areas that needed addressing. This is great stuff. 🙂 Thank you.

    • Richard Knaster

      22 Jun 2017 - 8:02 am

      Hi Michael:

      Thanks so much for your feedback. We are so glad to hear such positive comments from such experts as yourself.

      Richard and the team at Scaled Agile.

  11. Jesudas Chinnathampi

    21 Jun 2017 - 11:49 pm

    Fig 6 needs correction in the below URL

    Fig 6 refers to “Previous Terminology” and “New Terminology”. First row needs edit. New Terminology says “New Term”

    • Jeff Long

      22 Jun 2017 - 8:04 am

      Hi Jesus — The phrase “new term” refers to the fact that the term “Solution Train” is completely new to 4.5. It doesn’t have a previous, corresponding term from 4.0. Hope that helps.

      • Jesudas Chinnathampi

        22 Jun 2017 - 8:34 am

        Hey Jeff,

        Should we put a dash under previous terminology and put Solution Train (new term) under new terminology.

        Currently, under previous terminology you have put “Solution Train”. This may not be true.

        • Jeff Long

          22 Jun 2017 - 9:04 am

          Thanks Jesudas. That’s good feedback. We’ve made that change.

  12. Mark

    21 Jun 2017 - 12:57 pm

    Can you let us know what is the process for SPC’s to teach 4.5? Are we required to review the material and take an exam? Thanks!

    • Inbar Oren

      21 Jun 2017 - 10:29 pm

      Mark hi,
      There is no SAFe 4.5 update exam.
      Before teaching we do recommend watching the new enablement screencasts for any course you’re planning to teach.
      It’s also recommended that before teaching you reading the What’s New in SAFe 4.5 guidance article for an overview of the differences between SAFe 4.0 and SAFe 4.5
      You can also join a live Q&A opportunity, attend the webinar on June 26
      And finally to explore the Framework updates more in depth, watch Richard Knaster and my latest professional development video within the SAFe Community Platform.

      I hope this help,

      • Robert Maione

        01 Jul 2017 - 11:00 am


        I am an SPC 4 and passed the SPC4 exam plus all of the CDE exams a few months ago. This past week I watched the CDE on Leading SAFe 4.5 and there is an exam which I was surprised to see. It appears there is also an exam for SAFe for Teams 4.5. Can you explain why?


  13. Deborah Brey

    21 Jun 2017 - 9:41 am

    This appears to be a great update. I think it will help address some issues that people have with 4.0. The 4.5 courseware doesn’t appear to be available. Can you say when it will be accessible?

    • Dean Leffingwell

      Dean Leffingwell

      21 Jun 2017 - 9:45 am

      Thanks for the feedback Deb. Leading, Implementing and SAFe for Teams are available tomorrow (the official release 4.5 release date). The others will follow quickly thereafter.

      • Deborah Brey

        21 Jun 2017 - 11:18 am

        Thanks Dean!
        Looking forward to seeing the companion courseware.

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