The Program Board SAFe found in the SAFe framework is very interesting and deserves our attention. Even for those who don’t do SAFe, it can be a formidable tool for good program management.
I think it’s interesting to know it because it could one day be useful in your different coachings.
For those who don’t know SAFe framework, here is a small article about this framework: The SAFe framework in agile
What’s the Program Board in SAFe?
The program board is a more macro vision of the product progress. It’s a global view of the work to do by all teams without going into details. Some will assimilate this indirectly to a roadmap representation.
This program board SAFe is very usefull to have a good vision of work to do; it’s possible to imagine to do it for months (instead of sprints) if you don’t use it in SAFe context.
To understand this board, we have the teams represented horizontally and sprint vertically.
The bottom two lines show the needs of cross-functional roles. For example, if your UX isn’t a member of the team but a shared resource between multiple teams, it will be put down in the cross-functional area.
The events area
The first line represents the event area. The post’it in this area will have the orange color to be well differentiated of the others post’it.
3 types of different elements
We have 3 types of elements represented by post’it of different colors.
- blue: the feature placed so that its right side represents the end date of its development.
- red: the dependency that can be represented by a task (US, technical tasks …) placed so that its right side represents the end date of its development.
- orange: an event so that its right side represents the deadline. We could perfectly put there for example a release or the date of an impacting law.
The dependency is made of a red wool thread on which we leave a little extra length to be able to move one day the different post’it linked by this thread without having to cross a new piece of wool.
La dépendance est faite d’un fil de laine rouge sur lequel on laisse un peu de longueur supplémentaire afin de pouvoir déplacer un jour les différents post’it liés par ce fil sans devoir recouper un nouveau morceau de laine.
When to use this Program Board?
In SAFe, this Program Board is done during the PI Planning. It helps to organize the work of the teams of an Agile Release Train (Art); You can read my article about PI Planning.
Article: PI Planning in SAFe
I have already put this Program Board in companies that have multiple teams having dependencies on some of the features. Besides, there were development teams, but not only; we had added some business owner that were essential in the advanced of features, a team of Data Scientists and a team of ops.
Synchronization of progress
The ambassadors of each team meet from time to time in Scrum of Scrum ceremony for example to synchronize on the progress of the whole program.
Conclusion Program Board SAFe
Although there are other opportunities around the Program Board; it’s true that it really helps to better manage the overall vision of the company or IT.
The majority of the teams that test this board end up adopting it. It brings a global vision that is often lacking in the large companies.