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Portfolio Kanban

Updated: Feb 13

“Large scenarios are often missed if focused more on small details. While details matter but also thus an eagle eye point of view”.

As quoted above, an identical scenario may occur within the SAFe system. It’s going to occur when Kanban teams master Kanban they deliver value at velocity. But when all project parts start to maneuver faster it becomes a challenge to appear up the larger picture and follow up the state of affairs in an exceeding project. At this, organizations require a new way of managing the teams and that’s when the Portfolio Kanban comes into the picture.

Portfolio Kanban is a method of visualizing and managing the flow of portfolio epic. It covers all the necessary stages of Epic from ideation, analysis, implementation, and completion.

Portfolio Kanban

All Kanban system in SAFe like team, program, solution, and portfolio has the main goal to improve the flow of value through a continuous delivery pipeline.

Along with this they also help in

  • Matching demand to capacity based on WIP.

  • By visualizing bottlenecks, and identifying opportunities for improvement.

  • Eases policies governing with entry and exit of work jobs in every state.

Even though the Portfolio Kanban seems the same as Team Kanban due to their goal but they are applied at two different levels and also consist different reasons to occur. For better understanding let us see a difference in both.

The difference between Team Kanban and Portfolio Kanban

  • Its main difference is Kanban cards in a portfolio are a parent of one of the many Kanban cards at Kanban card on board at a team level.

  • At a portfolio level Kanban allows the project to break into many smaller tasks and link them to one another.

Portfolio Kanban collaborates with business owners, teams, solution, and system architects along with product and solution management.

Portfolio Kanban System

Portfolio Kanban system organization is the responsibility of an Epic Owner. The portfolio Kanban system states are described as below:

Portfolio Kanban

1. Funnel

In funnels, all the new business ideas or new technology ideas are captured. This idea may be generated from the ART’s or teams, from strategic concerns, or suggestions from customers and partners, etc. These concepts must outstrip the epic brink guardrail or might have some strategic or business model effect. Once it is initially reviewed and found that the idea does not exceed the epic threshold guardrail then they are moved into the solution or program Kanban funnel.

The portfolio epic that arrives in the funnel has no WIP limits as they are described within a short phase and are simple ideas.

“Businesses are never built by individuals, firstly people are built and then they build the business”.

SAFe is like a company within the system of a company. Each role and responsibility have their jobs to perform including generating ideas to being an investor or working just like a customer by being a customer or owner. Even in the Review state of portfolio kanban, we can see a glimpse of it.

2. Reviewing

Epic as one of the most enterprise investments it requires an investor to sponsor the Epic. They should also define the intent and definition. All this takes place in an epic state and the epic owner is the one responsible. When there is capacity then the epic owner pulls the epic and works along with other stakeholders to define the epic hypothesis sentence. The epic has four main fields as mentioned below:

  • Epic Description- In this structure “for who….?” portion is described as epic in terms.

  • Business outcome hypothesis- The estimated qualitative and quantitative hypothesis is proven correct in this field.

  • Leading Indicators- This helps in predicting the business outcomes with early measures.

  • Non Functional Requirements- Attributes as security, performance, scalability, usability, reliability, and maintainability are constrained.

3. Analyzing

Epics are pulled in analyzing state when an epic owner has the capacity. And there is space available in the WIP limit. Activities in Epic analyzing state are

  • Identify and review alternatives for solutions.

  • Defining MVP

  • Create cost estimation for Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

  • Create a scope for complete epic

  • Create lean business cases

  • Research for creating technical and business variability

  • Customer validation

  • Update WSJF

  • Take approval or rejection decision based on a lean business case

4. Portfolio Backlog

This state takes place when epic is approved by LPM. Epics with the highest WSFJ are pulled in this state.

5. Implementing

It is divided in two as

  • MVP- where MVP is constructed and evaluated, Pivot decisions are made.

  • Persevere- Continuous feature is implemented until WSFJ determines.

6. Completed

Considered done when LPM governance isn’t required.

“Productivity is usually an outcome of the promise to intelligent planning, excellence, and focused effects.”

Portfolio Kanban

SAFe provides well-planned steps to succeed in the goal set by the organization, by making their people ready they also make the organization ready for accomplishments.

About Advance Agility

We, at Advance Agility, are the new-age Agile Coaching, Consulting and IT services company. We enable end-to-end Digital Transformation. Agile execution is integral to our being. We are doing SAFe implementation with small, medium and large organization across the globe. Our vision is to be the leading Agile execution player globally. To keep adding value at every process stage. We are on a mission to empower our clients, move from concept to cash in the shortest sustainable lead time by adopting human centric approach to business agility. Embracing the change is in our DNA. Things that keep us apart are Quicker and Seamless execution with End-to-end gamut of services. Our Global presence and Stellar Track Record give us an edge over our competitor.

Connect with us at to learn about SAFe and SAFe Implementation. Write to us at for any agile training or consulting needs. We are always looking for competent agile trainers as well. So if you are a good trainer or want to become one, do get in touch with us to that we can learn, grow and achieve together



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