Business View point of SAFe

Business View point of SAFe

Business View point of SAFe


This blog covers business view point of SAFe.(Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®). SAFe being enterprise level scrum frame work implementation, one of the distinguishing aspect is Business interaction and business view point of it.

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Business view Point

Portfolio Flow

From the above diagram it is visible that, the journey of SAFe starts with linking or connecting enterprise goals and objectives to Strategic Themes and Portfolio Visions which in turn gets translated to Portfolio Backlog.

The Portfolio Backlog is a Kanban system that is used to capture and manage the business and enabler EPICS intended to create and evolve the portfolio’s products, services, and solutions. This entire process or activities of translation of enterprise goals and objectives is referred to as Portfolio Flow.

Portfolio Backlog should comprise those products and/or services which creates or delivers value to its customer. This is known as Operational Value Streams (OVS) [ITIL4 – Value Streams]

Each value stream represents the sequence of steps, an enterprise uses to deliver. Each highlights the flow of value, delays, rework, and bottlenecks. They illustrate how the current flow affects the people who do all the work. Identifying, visualizing, and optimizing value streams is the primary method a Lean enterprise employs to shorten time to market while improving the timeliness, quality, and value of its products and services. [ITIL4 – Value Streams]

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Portfolio Flow – Portfolio Flow describes a state where Lean Portfolio Management provides a continuous flow of new epics to Solution Trains and ARTs to achieve the portfolio’s vision and strategic themes in turn meets enterprise goals and objectives.

ART Flow

On completion of converting or mapping enterprise goals and objectives in form of Portfolio Backlog, the next step is creating ART Backlog or Program Backlog which part of ART Flow where –

We start with creating ART Backlog or Program Backlog which is the place holder for upcoming features, which are intended to address user needs and deliver business benefits for a single ART.

ART backlog or program backlog is owned and managed by Programme Product Owner who sits within Programme management group and contains the enabler features necessary to build the Architectural Runway.

The Program Backlog presents a larger picture of all projects that are part of the program. Therefore, it can provide significant guidance regarding programme and project goals, scope, objectives, and the expected business benefits.

The Agile Release Train (ART) provides alignment and helps manage risk by providing program level cadence and synchronization. It is based on agreement and adoption of a set of common operating principles and rules which are followed by all teams who are part of the train.

Team Flow

On completion of creating Program Backlog, next step is creation of Team Backlog where in Product owner is responsible for Team backlog and contains user and enabler stories [Helpers] that originate from the Program Backlog, as well as stories that derived from Solution backlog. Team backlog contains all things which is a list of ‘want to do’ items, not a commitment.

Note – In agile world backlog of a product is defined as the set of needs, requirements and supported activities gathered to create the desired product. This can be in multiple forms – Epics, features, User stories, Technical debts, Spikes or even Bugs collectively known as ‘Product Backlog Items’

Illustrative example of implementation of SAFe® –

A large BFSI entity acquired [M&A] another entity as part of Inorganic growth strategy. As part of M&A, large integration program was initiated to transfer various data assets to the target side, where in following types of backlog were identified and tracked using various KPIs and SLAs.

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Portfolio Backlog comprised – various Programs like –

  • People transfer
  • Financial and Legal assets transfer
  • Data Assets transfer
  • Services & Technology transfer

Program Backlog comprised – various Projects

  • Communication devices transfer including Call recording
  • Desktop and laptops transfer
  • Applications services transfer
  • Tools and Technology transfer includes FTP ownership transfer
  • Data transfer includes Jobs scheduling and data consolidation in terms of data lake creation
  • Products transfer

Team Backlog comprised – For data lake creation where-in FUNCITONAL EPIC, Functional Feature & User stories were defined

Example of functional EPIC – Data Ingestion, Data wrangling, Data Visualization, Data Analytics & Data governance

Example of functional Feature –

  • Data Ingestion – CRM
  • Data Ingestion-Call centre data
  • Data Visualization using Tableau, Alteryx
  • Data Governance using Protegrity for PII compliance
  • Data Cataloguing using Alation 

Features were then mapped to user stories at individual entity level for data ingestion, covering description, Acceptance Criteria and Definition of Done (DOD) & story points.

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All the teams [ARTs] working on common transition service timeline to achieve enterprise goal of smooth transition thus achieve unified view of one merged entity.

Business Benefits of SAFe –

  1. Faster Time-to-market – Usage of Using cross-functional teams of agile teams
  2. Improvements in Quality – Quality is everyone’s responsibility
  3. Increase in Productivity – Identifies & removes delays, continuously improve, and ensure that right products are built
  4. Improved team collaboration and predictability
  5. Specific – Teams are aligned with a common mission. Focused on the same purpose to produce high quality software and all energy centred towards clients/customers/users
  6. Transparency – Transparency generates confidence essential for development, innovation, and continuous improvement thus minimize DOWNTIME


Applying Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) helps organisations deliver value aligning to enterprise goals and objectives, improved customer satisfaction, create a more productive environment, predict future events, faster time to market.

Thus defining dynamic and comprehensive various backlog types described above using expertise of Product Owners and SMEs will definitely help enterprises to create/produce and maintained products and services in the correct time targeted to the correct audience [ITIL4-Customer and Users] with minimal DOWNTIME. [DOWNTIME is Lean IT concept]

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