SAFe© Business Value (BV) reflection

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I encourage all readers to check out the SAFe© guidance article on the subject before
reading this article. SAFe© and Scaled Agile Framework© are registered trademarks of 
Scaled Agile Inc.

An aside about Business Value reflection

Some SAFe© acronyms defined:
Epic Owner (EO), Business Owner (BO), Product Owner (PO), Product Manager(PM), Lean Portfolio Management (LPM), Scrum master (SM), Release/Solution Train Engineer (RTE/STE), Solution Management (SMg), Business Value (BV), Story Points (SP)

In SAFe©, a long-lived ART should come to a state where Business Value (BV) is reflective, but not equal to in any way, of normalized story points at the team level.


This is a critical notion because the Business Owner (BO) and product owner/management (POPM) (and Epic Owner [EO]; Lean Portfolio Management [LPM]) functions should be constantly working together with the ART(s) to improve the predictability of product development, quality and delivery (release on demand). There needs to be a mechanism in place between the ART and the BO/POPM functions to objectively measure the outcomes of the team of teams during a Program Increment (PI). This helps focus management and executives on successful outcomes rather than how many features or story points teams completed. Or worse, how many hours were spent on tasks or wishful thinking dates. We should focus on value delivery and successful outcomes as priorities over other traditional ways of measuring performance.

Portfolio Management

In consideration of portfolio management as a critical function of any enterprise product and/or service provider. Executives, EO’s, LPM’s, SMg, BO, POPM, RTE/STE and Teams of teams (traditional portfolio management, requirements analysts, program/project management, business office functions) need to be able to estimate quickly and accurately during the intake processing of new work (sales/contracts/business/epics/new features, etc.). Teams should always be involved in estimation, but may not have capacity to do so in every case for all quotes and ROMs. In many organizations, the teams that do the work are never involved in first pass estimating. To the detriment of the organization. Developing an accurate estimating mechanism (a tool with a process) for ROM’s/quotes is paramount to successful LPM in the SAFe. Look for an article in the future about how we tackled that problem with one of my clients. In my observation of many organizations this process is broken, and/or extremely laborious, and usually very inaccurate.

How many times have you seen the goal posts moved on a “project” to make the organization/company look good/better/as less bad as possible?

Scaled Agile Framework© on Business Value:

During PI planning, teams set team PI objectives, which provide many benefits:

  • Provide a common language for communication between business and technology
  • Align teams to each other and to a common mission
  • Create the near-term vision, which teams can rally around and develop during the PI
  • Provide an important Metric, the Program Predictability Measure, that the team and Agile Release Train can use to improve performance
  • Communicate with management and highlight each team’s contribution to business value
  • Expose dependencies between teams that must be addressed for system success

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Normalization of estimating (in story points and business value) on long-lived teams (Epic Owners, Lean Portfolio Management, BO,  POPM, & ARTs) should occur over time. A pattern should develop that is useful for capacity planning and management of outcomes across ARTs. This is where the Program Predictability Measure (PPM) is used as an objective measure of outcomes for an ART and the teams that are the train. It [PPM] is the measure of alignment between the ART and the other roles playing a part in product development.

Think of BV and normalized story points as checks and balances for each other between BO, POPM and Teams on an ART. Teams using relative estimating techniques like planning poker, white elephant or fast story estimating in story points…should have a mean (velocity) that develops over time, on long-lived teams. Likewise for long-lived BO’s working on assessing planned and achieved BV for an ARTs PI Objectives. This way, deviations can be more easily identified and root-caused for problem solving. Metrics should be created to measure SD and a team rule identified to document what is done when the SD for BV is exceeded (aka, out of the 80 – 100% target band).

Using this built-in mechanism in the SAFe is critical for the organization to tie together portfolio management to the production machine. Without it, there is no woman in the middle communicating and managing the inputs and outcomes to determine whether success was achieved. Often, the simplicity of the process itself identifies numerous unknown dependencies. Also, I have observed executives and management becoming much (significantly) more aware of the inner workings of the organization when collaborating with teams in this way of working.


2 thoughts on “SAFe© Business Value (BV) reflection

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    SAFe VelociPacity Tool « said:
    August 4, 2017 at 3:46 PM

    […] Read: An aside about Business Value […]

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