On June 13th, 2023, AAIA (Asia America Innovation Alliance) hosted the June Webinar featuring guest speaker Tracy Duan – the Product Delivery Lead, SAFe® Product Manager and Product Owner, as well as the Co-founder and President of CPMPAC. With twenty years of experience in product management and project management, Tracy generously delivered an insightful session regarding PMP (Project Management Professional) and the mechanism of how leveraging the SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) benefits companies to thrive in the evolving market. 

1. SAFe Operating Model Introduction

According to a study conducted by Pwc, the success rate of projects completed within the original scope, on-time, and under budget is only 2.5%. Along with the ever-changing market and consumer demands, it is therefore imperative to shift from a project-centric management method towards a product-centric delivery method that focuses more on efficient product delivery that can better adapt to evolving consumer needs. 


The solution to this challenge is to transition from the traditional waterfall method to an agile approach that allows for swift adaptations. The Agile delivery method breaks projects into shorter development stages enabling accelerated market entry, and activating an iterative feedback loop from the external market. The iterative feedback loop reveals consumer needs and pain points as well as the product’s or service’s issues, thus allowing for development improvements. Through a deeper dive into the Agile process conducted through a scrum framework, Tracy explained how the active and iterative planning, execution, and review process achieves efficient processes and visible outcomes. In addition to the benefits of adaptability, team empowerment, and continuous improvements, SAFe’s scalability potential is also valuable, as it can span from individual projects to portfolio management, reaching to facilitating organizational agility. Tracy further touched on the SAFe operation model leveraging the three fundamental concepts – Lean-Agile, Agile Release Train, and Agile DevOps. The Lean-Agile principles emphasize the values of customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, and a lean-agile mindset to eliminate unnecessary waste. With these values aligned, self-organizing teams can work together in a synchronized and predictable manner as an Agile Release Train. The Agile DevOps is another useful cross-functional model based on interactive collaboration between the software development and IT operations teams, allowing for Release on Demand, continuous delivery and integration, and reduced development and deployment. 

2. Acceleration of Products to Market

The traditional method of product development can take up 18 to 24 months, resulting in high time and investment costs. In contrast, the SAFe framework reduces this cycle by investing in a less funding-intensive Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for market testing. Project managers can then make pivotal decisions on project continuation based on feedback. This accelerated market entrance with iterative improvements reduces unnecessary sunk costs, helps to better understand the market, and evaluate product incompetencies earlier.

3. Case Study

Tracy highlighted a cloud-based healthcare start-up company’s success in market penetration leveraging the SAFe framework. Despite collaborating with only a single clinic initially, the company’s continuous data collection and iterative client feedback loop allowed for quick service improvements, building the foundation for collaboration opportunities with more clinics. Tracy further cited other companies’ successful implementations of SAFe, including Oracle and American Express.

4. Q&A

The Q&A session provided further insights and new perspectives, including the selection of the waterfall of Agile approaching adapting to various circumstances, as well as common mistakes made by new or entry-level project managers.  

5. Conclusion

In the end, Tracy highlighted the key benefits of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) – Agile, scalable, adaptable, efficient, and quality-assured. For start-ups, SAFe accelerates time to market, facilitates minimal initial funding, and enhances customer and employee satisfaction. In addition, Tracy further recommended the book The Catalyst for insights on team alignment and coordination, as well as the book Lean Start-up for smart business operations. Lastly, all members of AAIA (Asia America Innovation Alliance) want to thank Tracy for a generous and insightful session.

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