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SAFe Strategic Themes

Updated: Apr 14

“Strategy is not the consequences of planning. But the opposite, its starting point.”

When it comes to agile we have seen various systems and processes to improve delivery time and quality of organization products and services. All planning is the base of every process and system, using the right strategy is important to distinguish the organization from other competitive organizations. Whether at the project level or company level strategy is important. SAFe can provide the right strategy themes and strategy to bring your organization at agile page of working.

Strategic themes

As various organizations are transferring from the traditional way to the agile way of working they need to align with SAFe or agile. Similarly, they also need to ensure their partners or users are on the same page with them in agile and SAFe. To achieve this agile uses strategic themes.

Strategic themes are the business objectives differentiation that links the portfolio with the business strategies of the enterprise. Strategic themes provide the business context that helps in portfolio decision-making by influencing portfolio strategy. It finds the right way to align the government or enterprise portfolio with SAFe or agile portfolio. The enterprise executives and portfolio stakeholders’ work combined to analyze the various inputs required to create a set of established strategic themes. These strategic themes include the differentiated business goals that help to communicate an aspect of strategy intent from the organization to the portfolio. It also helps in providing the mechanism which helps in aligning the business strategy of the organization to the SAFe solution portfolio.

Strategic Themes can be considered the key differentiator as it drives the future state of the portfolio. As the strategic themes are the reflection of the strategy of an organization they are more stable and do not change frequently like strategies of enterprises, making annual updates change enough for most the organizations.

Things Influenced by Strategic Themes

Strategic themes

As we have mentioned above that the strategic themes influence the portfolio strategy so that the portfolio decision making gets the business context, while doing so they influence various things which are mentioned below.

Portfolio Vision

The strategic themes directly affect the portfolio vision as they affect the partners, solutions, customer segments, key activities, and revenue streams along with other business model elements.

Value Stream Budgets and Guardrails

Strategic themes also influence the value stream and guardrail providing the allocation and investment of people to accomplish the strategic intent. While doing so they create a question for the people like:

  • Does the current investment reflect the changes implementing the business context?

  • Does the current value streams the right ones for the organizations?

  • Does there is a need to start a new value stream or end the current ones?

  • Do guardrails provide the correct guidance on investment types and investment horizons?

  • Does the infrastructure, maintenance, support activities, and operations funded sufficiently?

  • Is the proper amount invested in the existing and new services and products?

Portfolio Kanban and Portfolio Backlog

Strategic Themes provide insight into the portfolio backlog epics, where achieving the vision is necessary. It also acts as input in portfolio Kanban for decision making by

  • Impacting success criteria, identification, and prioritization of the epics in funnel state and backlog state.

  • In lean business case warrants reference and consideration.

  • Impact implementing and splitting of epic in MVP

Vision and Solution, Team and Program Backlog

It influences all backlog for development at every level. It helps in determining epic values by, determining the value of WSJF. It also provides conceptual alignment across ARTs and solution trains.

Economic Framework

As strategic themes influence the development cycle lifetime, product value and cost, developing expenses, and risks of solution development, strategic themes affect the economic framework as well.

Examples of Strategic Themes

As we have seen how vital the strategic theme is for an organization they can be defined by using objectives or key results (OKRs) templates. Some of the examples of the strategic themes are

  • Lower warehouse cost

  • Using single sign-on cost through the application

  • For trading foreign security using product support

  • Cloud and mobile-first

  • Appeal to younger demographic

“You cannot change what you don’t manage; you cannot manage what you don’t track.”

The goal of using OKRs in strategic themes is to track, manage and define the progress through concrete and measurable actions. Hence it helps in achieving the main aim of aligning and ensuring everyone is going in one direction with constant rhythm and clear priority.

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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