Agile Portfolio Management Framework

In one of my previous blogs I wrote about ‘Agility by delivering changes as ‘business as usual’

In that article I created a list of aspects to take into account when designing an agile portfolio management framework. In this article I expanded and re-ordered the list and I summarized it in a picture. I updated the original article too.

dia1Agile Portfolio Management Framework:

Strategy assessment

  • Internal and external environment assessment (SWAT)
  • Portfolio management must facilitate sustainable business change (People, Planet, Prosperity, Processes, and Products)
  • Strategic objectives setting
  • Develop strategic themes.

Direction Setting

  • Portfolio vision, goals and objectives
  • Portfolio management facilitates innovation as part of the roadmap
  • Portfolio management must move away from the iron triangle and focus on delivering value, capacity and time-to-market
  • Close cooperation between enterprise architecture and portfolio management (addressing enabler epics (NFRs, technology drivers, innovations) to be part of the roadmap) to invest in (digital) technology to win, serve and retain customers
  • Portfolio management will have large impact on strategic decisions (achievability, technology trends).


  • Funding at value streams or permanent agile teams level and not at project or programme level
  • Funding must be aligned with the strategy or strategic themes. Enlarge or lower the number of agile teams must take place to align with the strategic themes
  • A short simple business case justification must be used to put epics on a portfolio backlog
  • The portfolio backlog epics must be prioritized based on attractiveness, risk or opportunity costs, time criticality and the duration. The weighted shortest jobs first (WSJF) from SAFe is a good example. Standish ‘Law of the eatable elephant’ is in line with this.
  • Epics can be business related as well as non-functional
  • Epics must be head and heart-driven, not just head-driven
  • Keep epics as small as possible but it must contain more than one feature
  • Number of epics in the roadmap must be WIP limited.


  • Portfolio plans will be replaced by a portfolio backlog with epics and a rolling-wave portfolio roadmap (Roadmaps include six key elements: time frame, prioritized and identifiable outcomes, strategic themes, context-specific content, dependencies, investment outlay)
  • Starting point for a portfolio roadmap must be a portfolio vision
  • Rolling-wave portfolio roadmap must be a living document. Only the first part must be committed to make sure changes can be embraced
  • Portfolio roadmaps must have a cadence or heartbeat to increase throughput and integration moments/milestones to create learning loops
  • Portfolio roadmaps must show retrospective events
  • Portfolio roadmap achievability must be based on (group of) team(s) velocity and not on optimized resource utilization. 100% resource utilization will lead to a lot of busy persons but no delivery!
  • Portfolio roadmap must be approved by senior management and communicated to the organization
  • Must be a continuous integrated portfolio planning process with regular strategic reviews (included fact-based feedback loops) and pivot when needed
  • Portfolio roadmap development includes strategic option analysis / scenario planning.


  • Portfolio dashboards must show the funding of value streams (and permanent agile teams) and the alignment with and budget allocation across the strategic themes
  • Portfolio dashboards must show progress on epic level. Details of epic break downs in features and user stories are not for the portfolio level (respect the decentralized decision making)
  • Focus must be on delivering value / benefits and not on OTOBOS (On Time, On Budget, On Scope)
  • Possible portfolio dashboards Key performance indicators and metrics (not limitative): productivity (feature lead time), agility (predictability, number of releases), quality (satisfaction, #defects), metrics for self-improvement, time to market, NPS
  • Use timely, accurate, and relevant information based on real time (automated) performance data, avoid manual aggregation
  • Portfolio dashboards must show data-driven recommendations for decisions
  • Portfolio dashboard reporting at anytime
  • Dependency management on epic level (inter and intra dependencies)
  • Doing the right things (metrics on effectiveness), Doing it right (metrics on process efficiency). Compare over more than one period
  • Customer feedback to evaluate the effectiveness of the roadmap
  • Portfolio dashboard reporting creates transparency and will motivate stakeholders
  • Integrated tooling (EA and PPM) must give real time insights (rich information) about the health of initiatives, capacity and what-if scenario analysis corresponding with the requester’s role.


  • Senior management commitment (much more leadership, less management)
  • Decentralized decision making
  • End-to-end transparency
  • Inspect regularly and adapt where needed
  • Feedback is crucial
  • Empowered employees
  • Culture of collaboration (remove silo’s).

Looking forward to your comments and adjustments so we can co-create a new Agile PfM Framework.

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