Portfolio SAFe

 

Portfolio SAFe helps align portfolio execution to the enterprise strategy by organising Agile development around the flow of value, through one or more streams.

 

Aligns strategy / execution with LPM - Lean Portfolio Management

 

  1. Fund value streams, not projects
  2. Empower local decision making
  3. Provide objective evidence of fitness for purpose
  4. Manage Epic-level initiatives responsibly
  5. Forecast predictability
  6. Budget value streams dynamically

 

1. Fund value streams

 

 

 

Problem: "Projects" increase the Cost of Delay

 

When overruns happen, project accounting and re-budgeting increases the Cost of Delay and impacts culture

 

Result:

  • Wait for new budget approval; increase Cost of Delay
  • Costly variance analysis; blame game; threatens transparency
  • Resources scramble and re-assignments

 

Solution: Lean-Agile budgeting

 

Fund value streams, not projects!

 

Funding value streams provides for full control of spend, with:

  • No costly and delay-inducing project cost variance analysis
  • No resource re-assignments
  • No blame game for project overruns

 

 

Control Costs with increased flexibility

 

ART budgets and resources are unaffected by feature cost overruns or changing priorities

 

 

 

Strategic Themes influence funding

 

Business objectives that connect a SAFe portfolio to the enterprise strategy

 

 

Examples (for a retail eCommerce company):

  • Appeal to a younger demographic (18 - 30)
  • Reduce warehousing cost by 50%

 

 

2. Empower local decision making

 

Empower ART content authority

  • PM - Product Management has the content authority, over features

 

  • PO - Product Owners have the authority , over stories

 

  • PMs and POs represent the customer, understanding their needs and creating features and stories which drive better products

 

Strategic themes influence what gets built

 

Strategic themes influence ART funding, Portfolio Backlog, Program Vision and Roadmap.

  • Adjust ART and Value Stream funding to track to changing strategic priorities

 

  • Assist with Epic evaluation and decision making

 

  • Influence each Program Vision and Roadmap

 

 

3. Provide objective evidence of fitness for purpose

 

  • The system demos are an objective measurement of progress and usage of funds

 

  • LPM, senior managers and high level stakeholders, review the progress of the solution under development and its fitness for purpose

 

  • Action and investment decisions are based on this objective evidence

 

 

4. Manage Epic-level initiatives responsibly

 

Large initiatives require Lean Portfolio Management approval

 

Epics are enterprise initiatives sufficiently substantial in scope so as to warrant analysis, understanding ROI, a lightweight business case and approval.

 

  • Portfolio Epics cut across value streams
  • Program Epics can be implemented in a single train
  • Business Epics are customer facing
  • Enabler Epics enable solutions to address business needs
  • Developed and analysed in the kanban systems

 

 

Foster innovation with a Lean Startup cycle

 

 

 

Epic Hypothesis Statement template

 

PO / Product Management creates:

 

 

 

 

Approve Epic level initiatives

Investments in Epics is a serious matter. Analyses and informed decision making is crucial

 

  • Just the right amount analysis
  • Avoid over specificity
  • Understand ROI
  • Understand implementation impact
  • Develop incremental implementation strategy
  • Gain approval from LPM

 

Govern Epic flow with the Portfolio Kanban system

 

The Portfolio Kanban system manages the flow of epics

 

  • Makes largest business initiatives visible
  • Brings structure to analysis and decision making
  • Provides WIP limits to ensure the teams analyse responsibly
  • Helps prevent unrealistic expectations
  • Helps drive collaboration amongst the key stakeholders
  • Provides a transparent and quantitative basis for decision making

 

 

Prototypical Portfolio Kanban system

 

 

 

5. Forecast predictability

 

The business needs to forecast

 

  • SAFe enhances enterprise adaptability, providing faster response to changing market opportunities
  • Yet, the enterprise, its partners and customers need to plan some sense of the future
  • Estimating must:
    • Be as fast and efficient as possible to be reasonably accurate
    • Support "what if" analysis of various implementation scenarios
  • Traditional Work Breakdown Structure to task level estimating binds the teams to waterfall practices

 

 

Estimating Epics in SAFe

  1. Epics are broken down into potential features during the Portfolio Kanban analysis stage

 

  1. Potential features are estimated in story points
  • Typically performed at the PM-System Architecture level, based on history and relative size
  • Individual teams are engaged as necessary
  1. Feature estimates are aggregated back into the Epic estimate as part of the lightweight business case

 

 

Forecasting from the Portfolio Backlog

 

Given the knowledge of Epic sizes and ART velocities, applying "what if" capacity allocations informs decisions and forecasting.

 

 

Allows forecasting of which trains can work on these trains and % of their capacity can be applied?

 

 

 

6. Budget value streams dynamically

 

Exercise fiscal governance with dynamic budgeting

 

Financial governance is still in place. Adjust budgets dynamically to meet changing business needs.