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One year ago, Scaled Agile launched a major upgrade of the Scaled Agile Framework when they announced version 5.0. An extensive set of article updates were introduced to support the emphasis on Business Agility.

After one year of using SAFe 5 in practice in a wide range of organizations globally, it is now time to update to incorporate the most recent learning and insights from the field.

In this article, experienced BDD consultants Jörgen Karlsson and Mikael Broomé guide you through the key updates.

What is new in SAFe 5.1?

To address various misconceptions, the Big Picture has been updated. Further, some articles have been updated or created to provide better guidance in addressing some difficult SAFe implementation challenges.

Big Picture

Examples of changes done:

  • Changed icon for Continuous Delivery Pipeline to underline that the various steps are supposed to happen within infinity loops continuously in each and every iteration. This addresses the anti-pattern of waterfalling the iterations

  • To emphasize that Release is not coupled to the planning cadence, the Release icon is repeated throughout the PI. For the same purpose, “Program Increment” is now replaced with just “PI” to mean just a Planning Interval.

  • The term “Program” is in general diminished to further distinguish the execution model in SAFe from traditional Program Management

For more details on updates to the Big Picture, see

New guidance on Team and ART Formation

Have you had a hard time categorizing your Teams as Feature or Component teams?

Well, you are not alone, and fortunately, very constructive insights have been made available in the recent book “Team Topologies” by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais.

SAFe now incorporates their work and distinguishes between 4 types of teams:

  • Stream-aligned teams can be regarded as a Feature team, to use the old terminology, being truly customer-centric. It is very keen to maintain close customer relations and grow its competence and abilities to do all the work necessary to potentially deliver value to end-users. Design thinking is a core competence for this kind of team. Such a team can be responsible for, e.g., a group of Features, some Personas or a subset of a Customer Journey.

  • Complicated subsystem team is the subset of Component Teams, to use old terminology, requiring particularly deep expertise. Complexity, Risk and depth of Expertise are typical reasons to create Complicated Subsystem teams. This kind of team off-loads and collaborates with Stream-aligned teams.

  • Platform team is used to develop services and parts of the value flow. Typically, these services are utilized by multiple Stream-aligned Teams.

  • Enabling Teams, like the System Team, have competence within particular domains, tools or knowledge areas. They typically support Stream-aligned teams by transferring knowledge.


The beauty of the four types described above is that they apply similarly to Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and how multiple ARTs within a Large Solution train relate to each other.


Value Streams

The split of the Value Stream article into two – one for the Operational Value Streams and one for Development Value Streams clarifies and helps us understand the different value streams. For the Operational Value Streams, which includes all the steps needed to convert some kind of trigger to the delivery of value to the customer, we now have four different types of Operational Value Streams:

  • Fulfillment Operational Value Stream

  • Manufacturing Operational Value Stream

  • Software Product Operational Value Stream

  • Supporting Operational Value Stream

This helps us in an easier way to identify and define the different organizations’ operational value streams. The Development Value Streams are the sequence of activities needed to convert a hypothesis into a System or Solution. This concept is fundamental to Lean and SAFe, and the primary organizational model. We organize our Agile Release Trains and Solution Trains around the Development Value Streams.

To make that easier, we now have four patterns of organizing the Development Value Streams, corresponding to the different types of Operational Value Streams. This helps us define the Development Value Streams in almost any organization and expand the understanding of this critical task.

Together these better explanations help us arrange the organization to optimize value delivery – Organize around value, Principle #10.

Where can you learn more?


The updated courses below provide more insights into all concepts mentioned above.

  • Implementing SAFe 5.1

  • Leading SAFe 5.1

  • Lean Portfolio Management 5.1

  • SAFe for Teams 5.1


The instructors within BDD Academy have updated their knowledge and we can immediately offer all 5.1 courses available.

To read more and reserve you seat, please visit


For more in depth reading on the updates, please refer to

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