Introducing a Simple Portfolio Planning Method
The SAFe Portfolio Level has been evolving rapidly. Today, it incorporates a Lean-Agile budgeting model, a Kanban system for business and enabler epics, guidance for coordinating multiple Value Streams, connection to the enterprise business strategy, and more. But outside of the portfolio Kanban system, it hasn’t provided much actual guidance on planning for the implementation of epics. We’d like to close that gap bit with an incremental step that advances the toolset for the SAFe Portfolio. Please check out the new guidance article here.
The method is based on balancing two important concerns for Portfolio work: a) consistency of work across Value Streams and b) capacity bottlenecks in the Portfolio. It utilizes a simple view that incorporates the two perspectives, as the figure below suggests.
The method enhances the visibility into the two factors and allows the Portfolio planners to reason about the potential portfolio roadmap. There is an important caution though. One must remember that SAFe planning at the Portfolio Level can only produce input to Value Streams. The tool cannot and should not be used to commit the teams to a certain course of action; in SAFe, only teams themselves can ultimately commit to a certain scope of work. They achieve that via PI Planning. The method above aims at pre-planning and forecasting of portfolio work, rather than offering concrete expectations in terms of what should be delivered and when.
Where does this tool fit into SAFe? Clearly, as part of the Portfolio Kanban system. There, Epics get decomposed into Capabilities which are, in turn, distributed across the Portfolio Value Streams. This is where the tool turns out to be very useful. We hope to integrate this content there at some point. But of course, the same model can be used for Value Stream planing as well.
Well, this post is getting to be as long as the article, so enough said. Please check out the article, and as always, provide feedback in the comments below.
-Alex and the rest of the Framework Team.