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How to build a Lean Portfolio Management with SAFe

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) provides a comprehensive framework for managing large-scale software and product development projects. One critical component of SAFe is Lean Portfolio Management (LPM), which helps organizations manage and prioritize investments in their software and product development portfolios. In this chapter, we will explore how to build a lean-agile portfolio with SAFe.

Step 1: Define the Portfolio Vision

The first step in building a lean-agile portfolio with SAFe is to define the portfolio vision. This involves aligning the portfolio strategy with the organization's overall business objectives and defining the long-term goals and objectives for the portfolio. The portfolio vision should be clearly communicated to all stakeholders, including executives, product owners, and development teams.

Step 2: Set Investment Themes and Priorities

Once the portfolio vision has been defined, the next step is to set investment themes and priorities. Investment themes are high-level business objectives that guide the allocation of resources to initiatives within the portfolio. Prioritization is the process of evaluating and selecting initiatives based on their value and alignment with the investment themes.

Step 3: Allocate Funding to the Most Valuable Initiatives

Once the investment themes and priorities have been established, the next step is to allocate funding to the most valuable initiatives. Funding decisions should be based on the expected return on investment (ROI), strategic alignment, and risk. Funding should be allocated in a way that maximizes the value of the portfolio while minimizing risk.

Step 4: Prioritize Initiatives

After funding has been allocated, the next step is to prioritize initiatives. Prioritization should be based on their value, risk, and alignment with the investment themes. Prioritization decisions should be made collaboratively and involve all stakeholders, including product owners and development teams.

Step 5: Manage Risks and Dependencies

Managing risks and dependencies is a critical aspect of building a lean-agile portfolio with SAFe. Risks and dependencies should be identified early and managed throughout the development process. Risk management involves identifying potential risks, evaluating their impact and probability, and implementing measures to mitigate or eliminate them. Dependency management involves identifying and managing the relationships between initiatives and ensuring that dependencies are identified and managed appropriately.

Step 6: Foster Collaboration and Continuous Improvement

Fostering collaboration and continuous improvement is critical to building a lean-agile portfolio with SAFe. Collaboration involves breaking down silos and promoting cross-functional collaboration across the organization. Continuous improvement involves implementing feedback loops, measuring performance, and implementing improvements based on feedback.

Step 7: Measure and Communicate Portfolio Performance

Finally, measuring and communicating portfolio performance is essential to building a lean-agile portfolio with SAFe. Metrics should be established to measure portfolio performance, including ROI, time-to-market, and customer satisfaction. These metrics should be communicated to all stakeholders regularly, and feedback should be incorporated into the continuous improvement process.


Building a lean-agile portfolio with SAFe is a complex process that requires careful planning, collaboration, and continuous improvement. By following these steps and leveraging the SAFe framework, organizations can build lean-agile portfolios that align with their business objectives, maximize value, and minimize risk.

If you want to learn more about how to get started and implement lean portfolio management with SAFe, I invite you to check out my book "Mastering the Art of Lean Portfolio Management with SAFe." In the book, you will find detailed guidance on each step of the process, along with practical tips and real-world examples. Additionally, I offer packages for working with me directly to help you implement lean portfolio management in your organization. Together, we can create a customized plan that meets your unique needs and helps you achieve your business objectives. For more information click here.


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