Managing SAFe Objectives and Risks
While not specifically mentioned as Kanban boards in SAFe, both PI Objectives and Program Risks are recognized as first-class citizens that are crucial to transparency and alignment. We therefore use an Objectives Kanban Board and Program Risks Kanban Board to increase visibility throughout PI execution.
SAFe Objectives Kanban Board
Use the Objectives Kanban Board to document the Team and ART PI Objectives agreed towards the end of the PI Planning. Include the "Key Result" that will help you know whether you're hitting the target.
An objective should be realistically achievable within the PI. The key results should be measurable to indicate business value delivered as a binary yes/no by end of the PI. So be careful of lagging indicators/objectives. Also be aware of defining activity/task-level objectives which aren't very interesting to external stakeholders. Try to find the goldilocks version (The one that isn’t too high/abstract, isn’t too low in the bushes/technical, but is just the right level - the way goldilocks likes her porridge!).
After defining your objectives, assign the business value (BV) you think you'll be able to deliver for each objective in the upcoming PI. A score of 10 indicates maximum business impact - essentially your ability to fully deliver on this objective. Lower numbers indicate that not all of the expected business value will be delivered by the features currently planned for the PI. You can use the card size field in LeanKit to indicate the expected BV score, using a scale of 1–10.
Note that the Objectives Kanban Board in LeanKit is split into sub-lanes, one lane for each of the teams on the Agile Release Train (ART) as well as one for the ART-level objectives.
SAFe Risks Board
The Risks Kanban Board template is designed to help you manage program risks in SAFe. It can be used during PI Planning, Scrum of Scrum meetings and during Inspect & Adapt. Effective Agile Release Trains surface risks during PI Planning (e.g. by using the "Confidence Vote" technique). Risks are then classified and discussed using the ROAMing process. This includes deciding if:
- There is an immediate (R)esolution to the risk.
- The risk should be assigned to an (O)wner.
- There is no alternative but to (A)ccept the risk.
- A (M)itigation plan needs to be developed in case the risk materializes.
This discussion should happen during PI Planning for risks identified at that point. More risks will surface throughout execution, so this process should be used continuously. Note that an effective Scrum of Scrum meeting should include a review of identified risks as well as discovery/identification of new ones. Beyond ROAMing, effective execution means actually owning the risk and striving for resolution or owning a mitigation plan and striving to have that plan ready. This board helps with visualizing the flow of risk management activity along those lines. It also provides the building blocks for a process of ongoing improvement in the organisation’s ability to deal with risks.