Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) 4.0 Portfolio 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 Portfolio project area that enables you to get started quickly to adopt the best practices prescribed by the framework. SAFe is characterized by one or more program teams that steer incremental delivery of a system by multiple agile development teams. This template adds a Portfolio level to support the SAFe 4.0 Portfolio and Value Stream layers of the framework for roles that align business strategy with portfolio-wide initiatives, (optionally) define Value Stream efforts and solutions, and orchestrate delivery of work across Programs. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) 4.0 Program process template complements this template.

If you use IBM® Rational® DOORS® Next Generation to manage requirements, you can use a SAFe Portfolio project template to create requirements projects for articulating SAFe Portfolio and Value Stream artifacts that capture business strategy and investments, lightweight business cases and solution elaboration related to the work efforts being driven through work items. See Creating requirements projects for details.

If you use IBM Rational Quality Manager to manage test cases and test plans, you can use a SAFe 4.0 Quality Management process template to create quality management project areas aligned with your SAFe Portfolio to verify and validate the initiatives, solutions, and Program-level work efforts. See Scaled Agile Framework 4.0 Quality Management process template for details.


The SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process defines a top-level Value Stream Roadmap iteration, which contains one Value Stream PI Cadence iteration. The Value Stream PI Cadence is made up over multiple Program Increment (PI) iterations.


The SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process defines the following portfolio level and program level user roles:
Table 1. SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process roles: Portfolio level
Role Description
Portfolio Manager Leads the Portfolio Management Team, shepherding large programs from development to deployment, providing status and financial reporting.
Business Analyst Defines initiatives (business epics) and determines the impact on the internal and external value streams of the enterprise. SAFe refers to business analysts as Epic Owners.
IT Director The executive in charge of the portfolio.
Stakeholder A member of the portfolio management team that contributes to the generation of new ideas into the system.
Enterprise Architect Defines a technological vision and implementation scenarios that support the business strategy. This role typically articulates Architectural Epics and works with Program-level System Architects.
Table 2. SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process roles: Value Stream level
Role Description
Value Stream Engineer Facilitates value stream processes and execution; escalates impediments; manages risk; and helps ensure value delivery and continuous improvement.
Solution Architect Responsible for the overall architectural and engineering design of the solution. Aligns the value stream and the agile release trains to a common technological and architectural vision.
Solution Manager Responsible for development and prioritization of the value stream backlog. Works with stakeholders to understand their needs; creates the vision and roadmap; defines requirements; and guides work through the value stream Kanban.
Table 3. SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process roles: Program level
Role Description
Program Lead The role defined in a portfolio to allow Product Manager, Release Train Engineer, and Business Owner roles in a program to participate in portfolio planning.

Work item types

The SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process defines the following work item types:
  • Portfolio Epic: Portfolio Epics are enterprise initiatives that affect multiple organizations and program increments. A Portfolio Epic affects multiple release trains.
  • Value Stream Epic: Value Stream Epics are initiatives that are large enough to warrant analysis and a lightweight business case but are constrained to a single value stream.
  • Capability: Capabilities are similar to features, but account for higher-level behaviors of the solution. They often span multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs). They are maintained in the value stream backlog and are sized to fit in a Program Increment (PI), so that each PI delivers solution value.
  • Learning Milestone: Learning milestones mark specific progress points on the timeline and can be invaluable in measuring and monitoring the progress and risk of a program.
  • PI Objective: Describes a specific goal with planned and assessed business value for Capabilities, Features or Stories delivered in a specified Program Increment or Iteration. The PI Objective can be at the program, team, or value stream level.
  • Task: Defines a unit of work planned for a program increment and is estimated in hours.
  • Defect: Defines a bug, error, or flaw in the solution.
  • Risk: A risk is a potential event or future situation that could affect, prevent, or limit a project's success. Project risks might be seen as threats or opportunities.
  • Retrospective: A Retrospective is an event to discuss what went well and what did not go well, and to define improvement for the upcoming period. Use a Retrospective work item type to ensure that this event occurs and to track the team's comments and plans.

Project area initialization

When you create and initialize a project area based on the SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process template, a work item with the Summary of Post-Project Initialization is created. The Description in the new work item includes a link to a web page that describes how to configure your project area. Two team areas (Value Stream 1 and Value Stream 2) are created in the project area.

In SAFe 4.0, the Value Stream layer is optional as part of a SAFe Portfolio. When it is included, we refer to this as 4-Level SAFe. If you do not use the Value Stream layer, you can archive the Value Stream Team Areas and practice 3-Level SAFe, which includes only the SAFe Portfolio, Program and Team layers.

Work item templates

Project areas that are based on the SAFe 4.0 Portfolio process template include the following templates that you can use to create work items:
  • Portfolio Management: Use this work item template to create typical SAFe portfolio management tasks.
  • Solution Increment: Use this work item template at the start of each Solution Increment to create work items for typical events.
  • Solution Release: Use this work item template to create typical SAFe Solution Release tasks.
  • Value Steam Initiation: Use this work item template when initiating a new value stream.

Work item calculated values script

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

For additional details about the SAFe 4.0 Portfolio 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 (Portfolio) Template. For guidance on working on a team that uses the SAFe process, see Scaled Agile Framework.

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