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SAFe to Scale

SAFe to Scale

the practical guide to Scaled Agile for Product Managers and Product Owners

SAFe®, the Scaled Agile Framework®, is the most widely adopted framework for scaling Agile. I believe that for SAFe (or any agile implementation) to be successful the critical path includes empowering the product people to make the right decisions on the product they are building.

This book introduces the foundations of SAFe and discusses specific approaches for Product Managers and Product Owners.

Table of Contents

Introduction to SAFe®
The SAFe Framework
There Can Be No True Agility Without Product Thinking
The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®)
The Four Levels in SAFe
Additional Roles Introduced by SAFe
Additional SAFe Events
The Agile Team in SAFe
The Agile Team
Product Owner
Scrum Master / Team Coach
Team Members
An Effective Scrum Fuels an Effective SAFe
Team Backlog and Refinement
Sprint Planning
Daily Stand Up / Daily Scrum
Sprint Review
Sprint Retrospective
PI Planning
The PI Planning Event
Creating a Plan for the PI with the Team Board
Updating the ART Planning Board
The Role of the Product Owner at PI Planning
The Role of the Scrum Master at PI Planning
The Role of the Team Members at PI Planning
Questions and Answers about PI Planning
Product Thinking in SAFe
Outputs versus Outcomes
Adopting a Product Thinking Mindset
Empowered Product Teams
The Problem with Feature Factories
Managing Epics and MVPs
Epics and Refinement of Epics
Managing a Portfolio of Epics
Use an MVP to Validate the Epic
Define the Key Hypothesis
Understand the Flow of Value to the Customer
Identify MVPs With the Product Journey Map
Managing the ART Backlog
The ART Backlog
Prioritizing the ART Backlog
Tips and Techniques to Manage the ART Backlog
Align to a Roadmap
Managing PI Objectives and Risks
PI Objectives
Identifying and Tracking Risks
Tracking Work
Velocity Is Not a Measure of Performance
Tracking Progress with a PI Burn-up Chart
Tracking Progress on the PI Objectives
Business Value for PI Objectives
The Team’s Achievement Score
Improving Flow Through Your System
Succeeding with SAFe
Adopting and Adapting SAFe
Scaling Agile versus Scaled Agile
De-scaling SAFe
Challenges and Complaints about SAFe
The Verdict on SAFe


Valerio Zanini, SPC, CST, CPIT

Expert Contributors

Luke Hohmann, SPC, SAFe Fellow
Ajiri Ideh, RTE, SPC, MBA
Anil Jaising, CST, Certified DevOps Trainer
Vikas Kapila, SPCT, AKT
Bernie Maloney, CST
John Mulligan, SPC
Ramesh Nori, SPCT
Thomas Nowaczyk, VP Product Management
Brian Schweickert, SPC
Jason Tanner, CST
Bonsy Yelsangi, CST
Yuval Yeret, SPCT, SAFe Fellow, PST


Everything moves fast in the Digital Age. Customer desires, competitive threats, technology choices, business expectations, revenue opportunities, and workforce demands now happen at blistering speeds. This creates unprecedented challenges for organizations looking to harness this disruption for their benefit. By incorporating the power of Lean, Agile, and DevOps, SAFe helps organizations deliver innovative products and services faster. But speed is only one-half of the equation. Organizations that achieve Business Agility deliver truly innovative solutions that delight their customers. They exhibit a relentless focus on customer-centricity and product-first thinking.

Valerio Zanini’s book, The Practical Guide to Scaled Agile for Product Managers and Product Owners, is a comprehensive handbook for Product Managers and Product Owners who play a crucial role in defining and delivering new products and solutions. It provides a solid foundation for learning about the critical aspects of the Framework with a deeper focus on applying product-based thinking in SAFe. Written from personal experience gained during multiple SAFe implementations, Valerio includes many case studies, examples, tips, and techniques, as well as advice from thought leaders across the Lean-Agile community, ensuring the book has direct practical application.

One key to product success is highlighted in SAFe Principle #1, Take an Economic View, which guides Product Leaders to make decisions in a proper economic context. In support of this principle, Valerio encourages all those in product roles to recognize the difference between optimizing ‘outcomes’ over ‘outputs’ and illustrates how iterative approaches using MVPs can reduce the risk inherent in product development. Valerio also cautions organizations from becoming simple Feature Factories where the goal of delivering more functionality more quickly can become disconnected from the objective of maximizing customer value. He describes approaches to rectify this problem, including using a Product Journey Map that creates a unified view of the customer persona, the customer journey, and the potential new features.

Whether you are an experienced Product Manager or Product Owner wanting to deepen your knowledge or just beginning your journey and looking for guidance on how to be effective in your new role, this book will help. The value of SAFe always comes from its successful application, and this book provides the opportunity to learn directly from an experienced guide.

Stay SAFe.

By Andrew Sales, Chief Methodologist, Scaled Agile Inc.


In an era defined by rapid technological advancement and digital transformation, the role of Product Managers and Product Owners has evolved significantly and become more critical. As enterprises navigate the complexities of the modern business landscape and strive to thrive with business agility, the Agile ways of working at scale have emerged as essential strategies for achieving business agility. Thus, adoption and adaptation of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) have become paramount.

This book, SAFe® to Scale by Valerio Zanini, serves as a comprehensive guide for Product Managers and Product Owners seeking to scale agile ways of working within their unique contexts. By applying Agile values and principles to their enterprises, they can effectively harness the power of generative AI, Big Data, Cloud, and DevOps – elements that are both disruptive and enabling in nature.

Through a blend of practical insights, real-world examples, and expert advice from experienced SPCs and SPCTs, readers will gain a deep understanding of how to leverage these transformative technologies to drive innovation, collaboration, and adaptability. The journey to thriving in today’s digital era requires a nuanced approach that embraces change, fosters creativity, and prioritizes continuous improvement.

As the digital era continues to unfold with the evolving role of Product Managers and Product Owners, the ability to adapt and thrive in the face of constant change is essential. This book serves as a beacon and a valuable resource for Product Managers and Product Owners seeking to embrace the challenges of today’s dynamic business environment emerging as catalysts for success leading their organizations towards sustainable success.

Embark on this journey of discovery and transformation with Valerio Zanini to unveil the secrets of unleashing business agility in the digital era, one SAFe agile step at a time.

By Vikas Kapila, SAFe Practice Consultant-T (SPCT) – Accredited Kanban Trainer



In the world of Agile, where every company out there is on a rat race to get their teams Agile certified in anticipation of winning a golden egg with ease, most of them, if not all, fail to recognize the fact that it’s not that straightforward. Just working in an Agile way is not enough to pull it through. What is critical here is to understand that a Product way of thinking and execution should take center stage. And that is the value-add from our dear friend Valerio – who is diligently focusing on changing the world through education and coaching with his product thinking knowledge.

Through his initial publications, Valerio provided the world with product related knowledge, and through this book, he provides us all with an excellent approach to plan and scale the execution of work in a typical organization. He did a meticulous job of blending the current scaling frameworks and associated events with product thinking, to help an organization come out in flying colors. It is an easy read with good context that can be applied to an organization with ease. For everything else, you can always reach out to him.

Finally, I must admit that this is a gem of a collection of things to help an organization with scaling up, and I would definitely recommend this to every agilist out there … GOOD LUCK and ENJOY THE SUCCESS this book brings to your organization.

By Ramesh Nori, SAFe Practice Consultant-T (SPCT)

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