Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) 4.0 Program process template

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) methodology is an industry standard framework for helping organizations scale agile and lean practices to an enterprise level. Use this template to establish a SAFe Program project area that enables you to get started quickly to adopt the best practices prescribed by the framework.

The project areas created by this template represent SAFe programs that are part of a broader SAFe portfolio. See Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) 4.0 Portfolio process template for details about the SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process template.


The SAFe 4.0 Program process template has one top-level Agile Release Train (ART) iteration, which consists of multiple Program Increment (PI) iterations. Each PI iteration is further broken down into multiple sprint iterations.


The SAFe 4.0 Program process defines the following program level and team level user roles:
Table 1. SAFe 4.0 Program process roles: Program level
Role Description
Product Manager Defines and prioritizes the program backlog, develops the vision and roadmap, works with product owners to optimize feature delivery to the customers, and sets PI Objectives. This person has content authority.
Business Analyst Defines initiatives (business epics) and determines the impact on the internal and external value streams of the enterprise.
UX Designer Works with stakeholders to understand the specific business targets of the user-system interaction. Responsibilities include UI design, UX guidelines, design elements, and the validation of user experience through user-experience testing.
System Architect Defines a technological vision and implementation scenarios with architectural epics that support the business strategy. This person maintains a high-level understanding of user needs, system requirements, and business benefits for a release train.
Release Train Engineer Facilitates the agile release train processes and program execution, escalates impediments, manages risk, and drives continuous, program-level improvement. This person also facilitates program events, such as release planning, inspect and adapt, and the scrum of scrums.
Business Owner Responsible for the value delivered by a specific ART. This person understands the strategic themes that influence the train, knows about the current business context, has decision-making influence on epics moving through the Kanban systems, is involved in driving or reviewing the program vision and road map, and has a significant role in release planning.
Table 2. SAFe 4.0 Program process roles: Team level
Role Description
Product Owner Defines and prioritizes the requirements backlog, helps to elaborate those requirements with the team, and accepts completed stories into the baseline. A team has only one product owner, who might be dedicated to one or two teams.
Scrum Master Facilitates team interactions and meetings, enforces the rules in a scrum, and helps drive the team's efforts to continuously improve. A team member or a scrum master might have a full- or part-time role that is shared across two or three teams.
Team Member Usually a developer or tester, but this role might include other roles as well, such as a technical lead, a system architect, or a technical writer. A team normally has five to nine members.

Work item types

The SAFe 4.0 Program process defines the following work item types:

  • Program Epic: A work effort constrained to a single release train, delivered by multiple teams, and spanning multiple PI iterations. Program Epics can represent business capabilities that address various user needs.
  • Feature: Functionality that meets specific stakeholder needs. Features are sized and targeted for a program increment. Features bridge the gap between stories and epics. Like Program Epics, Features can represent business or enabler work.
  • Story: A small behavior that can be implemented in an iteration. Like Program Epics and Features, Stories can represent business or enabler work.
  • PI Objective: Describes a specific goal with planned and actual business value assessed for a Feature or Story. The PI Objective can be at the program or team level.
  • Task: Defines a unit of work planned for a sprint and is estimated in hours. Tasks are typically linked to a Story by using a parent/child link.
  • Defect: A bug, error, flaw in the implementation. Defects can be associated with a Story by using a parent/child link. Defects and Tasks associated with the Story are shown on the task board.
  • Risk: Identifies an uncertain event, which can negatively affect the project. It includes an assessment of its probability of occurrence and impact.
  • Retrospective: Used to capture the findings of a sprint retrospective meeting, or an Inspect and Adapt workshop.

Project area initialization

When you create and initialize a project area based on the SAFe 4.0 Program process template, a work item with the Summary of Post-Project Initialization is created. The Description in the new work item contains a link to a web page that describes tasks that the program manager or release train engineer should perform to get started working in the new project area. Two team areas are also created within the project area.

Work item templates

Project areas that are based on the SAFe 4.0 Program process template include the following templates that you can use to create work items:
  • Program Initiation: Use to create work items applicable when a program is first initiated.
  • Program Increment (3 level): Use (when using 3 level SAFe) at the start of each Program Increment to create work items for typical program events.
  • Program Increment (4 level): Use (when using 4 level SAFe) at the start of each Program Increment to create work items for typical program events.
  • Development Iteration: Use prior to each Development Iteration and for each team to create work items for typical iteration events.
  • Innovation and Planning: Use prior to each Innovation and Planning Sprint and for each team, to create work items for typical Sprint events.
  • System/Solution Release (3 level): Use (when using 3 level SAFe) to create typical SAFe System/Solution Release tasks.

Work item calculated values script

Project areas that are based on the SAFe 4.0 Program process template include the Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) calculated values script, which is used to calculate the WSJF value for Program Epics and Features. For details about the WSJF algorithm, see The template also includes Exposure Provider, Calculated Achieved Value, and Calculated Story Points calculated value scripts. For details about using calculated values scripts, see Configuring calculated value attribute customizations.

For additional details about the SAFe 4.0 Program process template, navigate to the Templates tab in the web client. Click the Edit Process Description (Edit Process Description icon) icon in the Actions column for SAFe 4.0 Process (Program) Template. For guidance on working on a team that uses the SAFe process, see Scaled Agile Framework.

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