This capability supports the creation, Lean business case development, planning and approval of epics that will deliver and operate our products, services, and systems and their corresponding business outcomes.
What is an Epic?
- Delivers an outcome
- Requires analysis, the definition of a minimum viable product, and financial approval before implementation, including:
- An epic hypothesis statement
- A minimum viable product, or MVP
- A Lean business case
- Is allocated funding from the product or value stream approved budget.
Demand Intake (Governance)
We can initiate new epics to deliver the solutions defined in the value streams and achieve the portfolio outcomes.
We can collect the relevant descriptive and categorization information for each epic.
Epic Financial Planning
We can capture the high-level costs for the epic.
We can estimate the size, benefits, and desired results associated with these epics to develop a Lean business case.
We can track the work being done by Agile teams and use that data to automatically create timesheet entries for financial planning, including categorizing the work into capitalization (CAPEX) or operational expenses (OPEX).
Analysis and Prioritization/Scenario Planning
We can rank a portfolio of epics based on our organization’s priorities and drivers.
We can analyze the portfolio backlog against the budget or targets of the relevant product and understand the impact of any trade-off decisions.
We can create what-if scenarios for the portfolio.
We can make epic-approval decisions in the context of the overall portfolio backlog.
Portfolio Capacity Planning
We can analyze the portfolio backlog against the capacity targets of the relevant team of teams and understand the impact of any trade-off decisions.
We can sequence epics across defined timeboxes (e.g., program increments) to align with the Agile team of teams’ capacity.
Portfolio Backlog Management
We can visualize all approved epics on a portfolio kanban board.
We can customize kanban boards to reflect the existing portfolio processes.
We can sequence epics in the context of size, value, and team capacity/velocity considerations.
We can create aligned autonomy by associating work on team and program boards to the portfolio kanban board.
We can create portfolio objectives and associate the relevant key results for tracking.
We can align program and team level OKRs with Portfolio OKRs.
We can measure the progress of program OKRs by capturing associated metrics for the Key Result score and rolling up the objective.
We can track the activity history for the Key Result progress changes for auditability.
We can align work activities with program OKRs by connecting Key Results to LeanKit cards.
Click a process step shape inside a light blue area for more information; hover for a quick view of the definition
Demand Intake (Governance) Process Steps and Best Practices
In the connected solution, demand intake takes place in Planview Enterprise One – PRM. Epics are created using the Work menu, and they are associated to products on the Strategy menu.
If you are using PRM and LeanKit together, build out the board in LeanKit before you create Epics in PRM. Use board templates to easily set up the program board. Epics should be added to PRM at the PPL level (this is the project/work level of the work menu).
Understanding Epics: Is epic just another name for project?
No, an epic is not a project.
Business epics directly deliver business value. Enabler epics advance the architectural runway to support upcoming business or technical needs.
An epic is not what is funded. Funding is typically done at the product level, or may also be done at the value stream level in organizations following Lean Portfolio Management. Either way, funding is done at a higher level, and not at the epic level. Another way to think of it is that you are funding the product and the long lived team-of-teams that deliver that product. Individual units of work, such as epics, are implemented as part of that larger product.
Epic Financial Planning Process Steps
Epic Financial Planning takes place in the financial planning area of Planview Enterprise One – PRM.
Capture capacity targets (units) at the Agile Release Train (ART) level. Enter capacity targets in the Units - Points (or similar) account, adding lines as needed. Then add velocity/capacity units (points) for each row.
The use of points may differ per team and therefore they may need to be normalized before this effort is completed.
If WSJF is being used then size data will have been entered into the system twice (Job Size field when the epic is first added and then size data in the epic financial plan).
The focus should always be the value being delivered, not purely the capacity/velocity being consumed. Making these prioritization decisions may use the following information: benefits/revenue, OKRs, cost, risk reduction, or regulatory information.
|Manage cost and revenue/KPIs (Lean Business Case)||
Enter benefits and revenue targets into the Benefits or Revenue Targets accounts, adding lines as needed. Examples of benefits may be cost savings or incremental sales. This data is often entered in the currency format, by quarter. Some aspects of the Lean Business case may be captured on the Add new epic screen, and some may be captured here, depending on the specific configuration.
Because each Planning Increment (PI) is typically a quarter, change the preferences to display and edit the financial plan in quarters and years. Make sure your also are displaying Currency and Units (you may want to not display Effort and FTEs), as you will use these types as part of this effort. Configure your focus control to show Account, Providing Org/ART, or other relevant attributes before the splitter bar, and the others behind it.
Enter in any CapEx or OpEx costs into the appropriate account, adding lines as needed.
The Lean business cases provide just enough detail to establish viability: the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with a business outcome hypothesis, and deployment impact.
The lean business case does not fund the epic, but instead draws down funding from the approved product (within the strategy menu).
|Consolidate actuals||Actuals may be manually entered,come from timesheet data, or come from agile costing if configured. See Agile Costing for more information.|
Analysis and Prioritization/Portfolio Capacity Planning
This part of the process takes place in the Planning menu (also referred to Investment and Capacity Planning) of Planview Enterprise One – PRM.
|Set portfolio budget and targets||
Create or update the Planning portfolio to include all epics that are ready for Analysis/Approval.
|Prioritize portfolio backlog||
Create scenarios, then use the Rank, Analyze, and Shift pivot views to analyze, prioritize, and sequence epics into PI time blocks.
Create a column set that includes WSJF and/or other important columns to use with the Rank and Analyze pivot views.
Investments can be ranked using WSJF, or using other attributes. See Rank Investments to learn more.
Analyze investments based on what will bring the most value. As the organization goes through the process of delivering epics through the underlying features and stories, the leading and lagging indicators will begin to collect data. If they are not already included, add them to the column sets to they can be used as part of this analysis. Making these persevere/pivot decisions each quarter instead of each year as part of annual planning helps to increase agility at the enterprise level. See Analyze Investments to learn more.
Sequence the epics based on the points/user stories consumed. See Shift Investments to learn more.
|Key prioritized epics||The output from the prioritization event will be the key prioritized epics, sequenced into sprints within the PI. Publishing these may trigger steps within a lifecycle. See Publishing in Investment and Capacity Planning to learn more.|
Example: Primary Structures with Agile Use Case
The following image shows an example of one way to configure the Strategy and Work structures using Investment and Capacity Planning in Planview Enterprise One – PRM.
Portfolio Backlog Management Process Steps
This part of the process takes place in Planview LeanKit, with some data syncing back to Planview Enterprise One – PRM.
|Sync epics across to portfolio board||
The sync process is often completed as part of a lifecycle. The following diagram shows the data sync at different steps in the process. The blue boxes show the sync of epics at the PPL level of Planview Enterprise One – PRM to the portfolio board in LeanKit.
|Sequence epics into appropriate timeboxes (e.g., PI)||
Make sure the key prioritized epics were synced into LeanKit, and make any adjustments if necessary. Even if epics were sequenced as part of Investment and Capacity Planning, they will need to be put into the correct sprint in LeanKit.
|Deliver epics through underlying features and stories||
Build out the appropriate features and stories for each epic on the program and team program boards. The green and purple boxes in the following diagram show an example of how this process may look. The red lines show how the story and feature child card metrics will roll up to to the parent card.
As stories and features are completed, the teams will move those cards from left to right across the team and program boards. As the underlying work is completed, the epics will also need to be moved from left to right across the portfolio board as well.
As the organization goes through the cyclical process of delivering epics through the underlying features and stories, the leading and lagging indicators will collect data. As the epic hypothesis statement is either proven or disproven, persevere/pivot decisions will also need to be made. Making these decisions each quarter instead of each year as part of annual planning helps to increase agility at the enterprise level. This cyclical process will roll data back into the next PI Planning when investments are re-analyzed.
Portfolio OKRs Process Steps and Best Practices
The following table provides information for Portfolio OKRs, information for which is viewable in the financial planning area of Planview Enterprise One – PRM or in Planview LeanKit.
Portfolio OKRs Best Practices
- Track progress towards OKRs using early indicators, such as website traffic, app usage, and in-app feedback.
- Use direct customer feedback through social media engagement, focus groups, and other channels to assess the progress of any given initiative.
- Objectives can be long-lived (a year or longer), while key results evolve as the work progresses.
Outputs, Reports, and Analytics