I'm not very well versed in SAFe but I understand it as a number of best practices and ideas around implementing agile practices at enterprise scale.
Kanban is nothing like that; kanban is a meta process - a process for improving other processes. Not matter where you are today. Kanban is in addition super lightweight with only three principles:
- Make work visible - so that you know what's going on, so that you see what you need to improve. A board, work item cards, diagrams and avatars are all part of this. Your imagination sets the limit
- Limit work in process - so that you don't do to much at the same time. This will force you to cooperate, to handle problems like waiting times and handovers etc.
- Help work to flow - this where you start to improve and CHANGE the way you work today into something better. in small incremental experiments. All in the name of improving your process, towards a faster smoother flow from idea to production
I always shy away from things that tell you "this is how it is to be done". I do this because no one knows what awesome looks like. Or at least; if we do that is the best we can be. With an open mind and tools like kanban you can become "better than you ever thought you'd become".
SAFe might be a great starting point or it might not. With kanban you can start where you are today and improve towards something better. You might end up in SAFe, or you might end up in something even better. Don't let other limit how awesome you can become.
Hope this helps
I think it's hard for someone to tell you which software development process is more effective because it depends on the people involved, and there's no process that's most effective for everybody. In my experience, you can ask folks what works for them, but there's no guarantee it will work for you and your team.
Hoping this helps,
SCJP, SCJD, SCEA 5 "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!" Agatha Heterodyne (Girl Genius)