Posted by: kerrywills | October 13, 2017

An Agile Portfolio

I attended the Scaled Agile (SAFe) Summit this last week in San Antonio. Generally, I am not a fan of conferences but this one was very beneficial as I focused on sessions regarding agile portfolio management and case studies of companies who have evolved in a scaled agile way. These sessions corroborated some of my thinking over the last two years around how to run an agile portfolio. I believe that there are five key guiding principles to an agile portfolio…

  1. Hub and Spoke Model – Foster a decentralized model of leader-leader management through having guidelines at the Portfolio level but accountability at the Program and Team levels. The Portfolio also provides an aggregation function for key information.
  2. Transparency – Provide transparency of scope, planning, progress and risk across the entire portfolio. This includes the alignment and tracing of scope, financials and progress using the same hierarchy.
  3. Single Sources of Truth– Steward authoritative sources of key information and maintain as “living” documents for portfolio insight and management.
  4. Scope Diligence – Ensure diligence in the inventorying of scope and intake through a prioritized backlog and traced through all stages of delivery.
  5. Delivery Diligence – Aggregate, track and govern delivery of scope through the multiple execution layers to ensure successful delivery of commitments.

The portfolio still has the same functions in an agile model, but operates a little differently using the above guiding principles.

  • Intake and Scope Management – To facilitate the intake, prioritization and tracking of all scope through the lifecycle of delivery and the many delivery levels and constructs
  • Planning and Delivery – To plan a specific body of work, provide transparency and govern  the progress of that work through the delivery lifecycle and delivery structure  (IT and Business)
  • Portfolio Management – To aggregate key portfolio information and provide transparency across delivery


So as the industry evolves into more of an agile model, we need to continue with the key functions of a portfolio but operate using an evolved set of guiding principles.


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