Before we start discussing SAFe, Lean, and Lean Portfolio Management, let’s first understand why large-scale companies are going the Agile way and why there is a demand for professionals at various levels to understand and implement Lean and Agile Methodologies.
Digital disruption is affecting every company across the globe. Nokia Mobile, cassette tapes, Compact Discs, Pen Drives have all become a thing of the past. In the old days, if a company became a world leader in their niche, they would remain so for at least 50 years. Today, even market-leading companies like Apple have to continually innovate and adapt to stay at the top and stay relevant in the market. The outcome of such a thought process is that Apple has become the most significant watch manufacturer globally.
A world-leading company’s lifespan is around 15 years and can be longer if they continue to innovate and lead. Look at the phone you used two years ago and look at the phone you are using today.
Look at the tools you used 2 years ago and look at the tools you use today. Digital disruption is a reality, and the sooner the other corporations realize it, the better. Customers’ needs are changing rapidly in the ever-evolving world run by technology, and corporations are adapting quickly to stay competitive and relevant.
Product development in today’s world is only about providing value to their customers. The business ambitions and goals come later.
It is therefore important that not only should Lean and Agile Methodologies be implemented in the product development environment but there should be agility in strategy and there should be alignment between strategy and execution.
Suppose you study the journey of companies like Apple, IBM, and Microsoft. In that case, you will observe that, not only are they implementing Lean and Agile methodologies in their development environment, but they are also integrating it at an enterprise level to provide maximum value to the customer.
If You Don’t Change, You Will Become Extinct. –Spencer Johnson
Conventional Portfolio Management was all about planning a year and sticking to the plan throughout the year.
But in today’s volatile environment where compliance requirements come in at a day’s notice, new features need to be introduced to clients sooner than later, where competition is tough, if we stick to the year’s plan that was created without considering the unknowns of the environment and the industry, you stand a strong change to become extinct.
Companies like Nokia Phones, Blackberry phones, Blockbuster, Barnes, and Nobles all became extinct because new innovative solutions replaced them within days.
Thankfully companies realize this risk of getting extinct and are making changes at an Enterprise level to become more lean and agile in their approach.
PMO, Clients, Vendors, Executives, and other key stakeholders are now planning dynamically and flexibly enough to adjust initiatives and budgets as the market changes.
That is called Lean Portfolio Management. It connects business strategy with project execution.
In conventional portfolio management, businesses used to be project-focused rather than value-focused. Team members used to be lined up from one project to another without thinking about their assets and the value they brought to the table. Profitability from the project was more important than investing in a team value proposition.
This changes in LPM. LPM focuses on building value streams so that all the intelligence that a team has gathered in one project can be reutilized in the next project, creating more value for the customer. In LPM, teams are not shuffled randomly instead, they are nurtured and given more freedom and responsibility.
LPM believes in building investment horizons, such as investing in existing customer solutions, investing in learning upcoming and new technologies, and investing in innovative solutions for the future (to prevent extinction).
Additionally, strategy and investment funding are responsible for maintaining portfolio vision, realizing the vision through epics, establishing lean budgets and guardrails, and establishing portfolio flow.
The strategy itself is not enough to make an enterprise Lean. SAFe principles and the Lean-Agile mindset foster the decentralization of strategy execution to empowered Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and Solution Trains.
Therefore active engagement is required between the Agile Program Management Office and the Agile Release Train Engineers and Solution trains.
Cooperation among solutions can empower portfolio-level capabilities that the competitors will find difficult to match.
LPM believes in decentralizing decision-making powers to empower the ground-level teams and not become a bottleneck in delivering value to the customers. But to support the teams and not leave them alone, LPM introduces Agile Program Management Office (APMO) to cultivate and apply successful program execution patterns across the portfolio.
Apart from that, LPM is also responsible for fostering operational excellence to achieve business goals. This can be done by defining achievable milestones and lean-agile budgeting, fostering agile contracts, defining KPIs, financial governance, and so on.
Contrary to conventional portfolio management, where the budget was decided way in advance and could not be maneuvered around with the fast-changing market scenario, LPM believes in dynamic forecasting and budgeting. Using participatory budgeting, people within the group get together and brainstorm various viewpoints. The facilitator facilitates this discussion. This group then comes up with the new initiatives they can undertake and allocate a budget for. Prioritization plays a crucial role in the budgeting process.
Measuring portfolio performance using MVP or Lean Startup Methods gives a good understanding of where we are and where we want to go.
Coordinating continuous compliance is the biggest responsibility of the LPM. Failing to comply can jeopardize the existence of the whole portfolio.
Therefore compliance has to be taken care of at the portfolio level and not the team level.
As digital disruption is disrupting conventional portfolio management strategies and more and more companies are slowly and steadily switching their product development methods to Lean and Agile, there is an increase in the demand for LPM professionals.
Of course, because these techniques are new and different from the old ways of working, companies don’t have unrealistic expectations from the LPM professionals as LPM professionals maneuver their way from traditional practices to Lean and Agile methods.
Therefore, this is an excellent opportunity for professionals to upgrade their skills and start leading from the front as far as new methodologies are concerned. This is an opportunity for professionals to lead the way forward and teach their organizations and their colleagues on how to move forward with Lean and Agile.
Organizations would be more than happy to move to Lean and Agile methodologies because it removes waste from their system, it improves staff efficiency, and increases profitability manifold.
A half-truth is even more dangerous than a lie. A lie you can detect at some stage, but half a truth is sure to mislead you for long.
The same goes for half-knowledge. You can get some information about LPM from here and there but when you study to get certified, and you enroll with training programs such as iZenBridge LPM then you commit yourself to learn in a structured manner which empowers you to confidently speak and act on the subject rather than make half-hearted suggestions in the conference room.
Therefore getting certified is an asset to your portfolio.
Introducing Lean Portfolio Management, participants learn what SAFe LPM is and how to implement an agile mindset for strategy and investment funding, operational support, and governance. In this topic, we also learn the structure of the SAFe portfolio.
Establishing Portfolio Strategy and Vision, participants learn how to connect portfolio to the Enterprise strategy, Maintaining the portfolio Vision, and Develop the portfolio Roadmap.
Realizing Portfolio Vision through Epics, participants learn how epics help in implementing strategy. Participants also learn how to define and estimate epics. Participants also learn how to apply Lean Startup Cycle in SAFe.
Establishing Investment Funding, participants learn Lean Budget Guardrails, LPM events overview, and Participatory Budgeting
Managing Portfolio Flow, participants learn how to Establish flow with the Portfolio Kanban, and they also learn prioritization technique named WSJF
Applying Agile Portfolio Operations, participants learn how to do Value Stream coordination and Supporting program execution for operational excellence
Applying Lean Governance, participants learn how to do Measuring LPM performance and Coordinate compliance.
As such, there are no prerequisites for getting SAFe LPM certified but having a working knowledge of Lean and Agile methodologies can help understand the concepts of LPM.
The SAFe training curriculum has many certifications, and each course is tailored to the learner’s Professional needs and learning goals. The certification courses are:
The first step toward becoming a Certified SAFe® Lean Portfolio Manager is to attend the Lean Portfolio Management course. This is a requirement because attending the course provides access to all the study materials and the exam. Note that attending the course does not guarantee to pass the exam.
The exam is designed to measure knowledge and skill related to the job role. We highly recommend candidates use a variety of resources to prepare for this exam, including:
The SAFe® LPM exam is a little tricky to crack but not difficult if you go in with planning and preparation. All of these exams intend to test your understanding of the subject more than knowledge. You would hear many people complaining that they got the knowledge right in the test and yet failed to crack the exam. The reason is that they focused more on the exam material than its real-world implementation.
If you gain structured knowledge through our training programs and apply or connect that training to real-world examples and scenarios, then you will find passing the exam comparatively easier.
We have to remember that now we are not students anymore but highly skilled professionals, and we must plan and prepare for the exam accordingly.
We suggest you study the SAFe® LPM workbook, attempt the mock test available on our website, analyze the result of your practice tests by studying each question.
Our Mock tests are available as a part of the program. Mock tests will help you prepare for the exam and identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you can crack your exam easily.
These four videos will assist you in Learning LPM Fundamentals
SAFe Portfolio, ensure alignment and agility in our development initiative; you want to make sure that whatever your producing is aligned with the organization strategy, and as the organization is changing its strategy, as we are discovering new things, we can also be flexible in our execution.
To Deep dive in this watch the video by Saket Bansal:
Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) sets the vision for the portfolio based on strategic themes and self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses.
Portfolio Visions aligns solutions to common purpose and vision and gets materialized by incremental epics implementations.
The fundamental way of doing Budgeting is project-based Budgeting. You have a project that gets funded.
But in SAFe, you don’t have a project, and also SAFe recommends not to do project-based budgeting because it blocks your agility.
Now you may wonder how ???
Because You might be already working with various projects.
In the below video, you will get to know to see how project-based Budgeting might work and how it might block your agility, and what is the solution with Scaled Agile Framework is proposing for replacing this project-based Budgeting.
(SAFe®), Portfolio Kanban helps make large initiatives transparent, balance capacity and demand, and align execution with strategy.
The following video will explore all the aspects of the concept
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