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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert


SAP Activate provides a solution-specific and clear guided agile methodology to deploy, adopt and extend SAP solutions capabilities across an organization. SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) is a well-known agile framework that helps organizations to implement Business Agility at scale. Together, the two are enabling organizations to speed-up innovation, to achieve greater productivity, and to reach sustainable growth and scalability.

This marks the beginning of a series of articles designed to offer guidance on integrating the two methodologies: deploying SAP solutions with SAP Activate within the SAFe framework.

The aim of this series is to simplify comprehension of how these two methodologies can accelerate the adoption and expansion of SAP solutions while also boosting the innovation pace within organizations leveraging SAFe.

The articles address to:​

  • SAP Solution Consultants and Architects, Technical Quality Managers, Project Managers and Sales​ Consultants.
  • SAP partners involved with organizations leveraging SAFe.
  • Everybody who is activating in an organization leveraging SAFe and participates in the value stream delivery enabled by any SAP solution.

In this series, we will look at the integration of the two frameworks through the SAP Activate lenses, from the perspective of the SAP solutions experts, who are external to the SAFe organization, and are participating in the SAP solution implementation efforts, under the Supplier engagement model.

Let us look closer to the two types of involvement with the Suppliers identified by SAFe:

  1. External to the enterprise– e.g., entire effort - Agile teams, product management, architectural support, and all other expertise required - is outsourced to the Supplier and the organization is acting as Business Owner to guide the development or implementation effort.
  1. Internal to the enterprise, involved in one or more value streams – by providing skills vital to the delivery from domain and technical expertise. We can find deep expertise roles like SAP Solution Architect, SAP Technical and Functional Expert and so forth, to supporting roles like SAFe Practice Consultant (SPC), Release Train Engineer (RTE) or Scrum Master/Team Coach to support a Lean-Agile, SAFe transformation.

Both Lean-Agile and Traditional/Waterfall methodology Suppliers are accepted by SAFe with a preference, of course, for the first option, as being less challenging and faster to integrate from the value generation pace perspective and mindset alignment.

For Suppliers that are implementing Lean-Agile practices, the recommended involvement model is characterized by the fact that the Supplier is organizing its work as an Agile Release Train (ART) on the same cadence as the other ARTs.  An Agile Release Train(ART) in SAFe designates the team of Agile teams working together to support the same business flows and value streams, a concept that is also present in SAP Activate under the program or large project concept.

In SAFe, a special attention is given to Suppliers providing strategic, customized software solutions that require collaborative effort and frequent integration with the overall SAFe organization.

Teams supporting SAP solutions implementation (e.g. SAP S/4HANA, Concur, SAP SuccessFactors, Ariba and Fieldglass etc.) or SAP co-innovation initiatives based on BTP (Business Technology Platform) are part of this strategic suppliers category.

Usually, when a Supplier is bringing solution knowledge it is also bringing the solution implementation methodology with methodology’s accelerators, in our case SAP Activate.

It is quite common to have a handbook created when starting the collaboration with a Supplier, to help team members from both parties understand how they will run together. You will find in the picture below an image from such a handbook that explains SAP Activate phases in the timeline context of a SAFe Planning Interval, with the mention that this is just one of the possible cases.

SAP Activate provides a standardized implementation approach for many SAP solutions with deep, solution-specific guidance, with several possible solution implementation landscapes and roadmaps and therefore this handbook must be tailored to factor in all these multiple variables.  

For example, in Q1 2024, eight possible roadmaps are available for the adoption of the S4/HANA solution (for further details see the link in the article’s references section) :

  1. SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition (3-system landscape)
  2. SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition (2-system landscape)
  3. SAP Activate Methodology for RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud Private Edition
  4. SAP Activate for Conversion of SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition 2-system to 3-system landscape
  5. SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition (3-system landscape) - Early Adopters
  6. SAP Activate Methodology for Transition to SAP S/4HANA – on premise
  7. SAP Activate for Upgrade of SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition (3-system landscape)
  8. SAP Activate Methodology for SAP S/4HANA Upgrades

Therefore, we must understand that we are not in the case where one size fits all and that the handbook will be the result of the collaboration of Lean Agile Enterprise and SAP Activate Coaches.


SAP Activate covers, in the Discover phase, the recommended activities to fundament the investment decisions regarding the SAP solution implementation that is very much corresponding to the Epic Lean Business Case in SAFe. As in the image above, we can say that this phase is corresponding to the Epic creation in SAFe.

SAP Activate provides the sequence of activities related to the preparation of the team and of the environment, in the Prepare phase, before the identification of the requirements backlog and the elaboration of the solution design, in the Explore phase. In SAFe, these activities are executed to prepare the PI planning, in the situation that the ART exists already or can correspond to the ART launch activities if the ART does not exist.

The MVP Backlog identification is staying high-level in SAFe: Features are collected. SAFe Features are corresponding to the business processes implementation scope in SAP Activate. The solution design for these processes is done as part of the Backlog refinement that is integrated in the Sprints/Iterations in SAFe. Therefore, during the PI execution, in SAFe, we can see activities specific to the SAP Activate Explore phase and together with activities specific to Realize phase, in the same Iteration. Moreover, Prepare and Deploy specific activities from SAP Activate are scheduled into the PI Iterations as they are needful either to identify the Features to be delivered in the next PI or, respectively, to deploy the solution to pre-production/production environment.

In the next articles in this series, we will have a closer look at the SAP Activate phases and workstreams to showcase how activities from SAP Activate phases and workstreams should be organized in a SAFe Planning Interval timeline.

Lean-Agile enterprises using SAFe are typically looking for an ongoing, long-lived, and trustful partnership with their strategic Suppliers, making them part of their culture and ecosystem and treating them as partners. To enable this partnership the Suppliers are shifting their mindset from project delivery to product development approach chosen by the enterprises leveraging SAFe.

Building large-scale systems takes time and involves continuous alignment with customers and stakeholders in an environment that is characterized by evolving needs and dynamic shifts in technology and innovation opportunities. In such situations, Agile contracts have been proven more flexible and more adapted for the supplier involvement model.

 Suppliers operating with SAFe are ideal since the development model and terminology are already aligned. Working with a supplier operating with Lean Agile concepts is the second-best option.

Therefore, although SAP Activate covers the traditional/waterfall SAP solution implementation methodology, we will consider exclusively the Lean-Agile approach for the Supplier involvement model in our upcoming series of articles.

Article References:

SAP Solution Implementation Roadmaps - Explore All Roadmaps(sap.com)

SAP Activate Methodology for RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud Private Edition - Roadmap Viewer (sap.com)

Supplier - Scaled Agile Framework

Advanced Topic - Agile Contracts - Scaled Agile Framework

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