Agile Program Management

Incorporate Agile Programs into your strategic portfolio and deliver increased value throughout the business.

What is Agile Program Management?

Today’s businesses operate with increased levels of complexity that often involve cross-functional teams, each with their own mix of budgets, resources, and work priorities. In parallel, this ongoing delivery often relies on collaborative work that intermingles traditional definitions of projects and siloed team operations.

Agile programs and associated activities like Program Increment (PI) planning were initially popularized by the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and are commonly leveraged for software development, but they can be adopted by any persistent cross-functional teams that need to collaborate regularly to deliver business value. They offer an ideal framework for collaboration and delivery that spans traditional project and operating models in a way that more accurately reflects today’s business practices.

As Agile programs are more broadly adopted by business teams and incorporated throughout an organization’s strategic portfolio, they allow an enterprise to achieve new levels of agility, delivering increased value reliably and more often, while optimizing resources and minimizing risks.

Agile Programs vs Waterfall Projects

Traditional business projects are planned and executed leveraging tightly scoped budgets, resources, and cross-functional project teams that are bound to, and continue to exist, only as long as the project itself. Project management methodologies allow for scope changes, but only within certain boundaries, since exceeding those boundaries will mean defining a new project (and associated scope) while also closing down the previous project mid-flight.

Agile programs and program teams, on the other hand, regularly collaborate to deliver value across multiple quarters and years. Their costs, capacity, and resources are reflected in value streams, and their work is planned incrementally, allowing them to quickly adjust to changes, even significant ones.

Benefits of Agile Program Management

  • Built-in agility
  • Visibility and transparency 
  • Alignment with strategic goals
  • Optimized resources, reduced waste
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Minimized risks

Best Practices for Agile Program Management

Align planned program value with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).

Designate programs for any persistent cross-functional teams.

Emphasize program visibility, transparency, and collaboration.

Reinforce program flexibility and autonomy.

Adopt PI Planning best practices from SAFe and Agile development.

Leverage PI retrospectives to improve future planning.

Focus on maturing ad hoc, adaptive planning processes and capabilities.

Prioritize a platform as a single source of truth for program management.

Stepping into Agile Program Management with SAFe

SAFe is a set of organizational structures and workflow practices that help product and software teams, portfolio managers, and business leaders implement Agile principles for complex programs and portfolios. The program level of SAFe focuses on accelerating the success of Agile Release Trains (ARTs), which are long-lived cross-functional teams of teams that collaborate to deliver value through a common solution or product. The SAFe framework provides a range of best practices for supporting ARTs and executing at the program level, including Program Increment (PI) Planning.

Program Increment (PI) Planning Events

Programs deliver value in 8-12 week timeboxes known as program increments. PI Planning is a 2-day event in which all members of the program team align objectives, roadmap plans and capacity, identify cross-team dependencies, and size the underlying value-stream for the upcoming program increment to deliver its planned value.

PI Planning Event Outputs:

  • Committed PI Objectives – Define objectives with business values assigned by the business owners
  • Program Board – Highlight potential interdependencies, features, milestones, and delivery dates
  • ROAM Risks – Identify risks addressed through Resolved, Owned, Accepted, Mitigated (ROAM) mechanisms
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“Without this level of visibility afforded by Targetprocess, we would prioritize everything the same and the outcome would be long lead times and a very long go-to-market. That's what we experienced before Agile, and we didn't want that problem again.”

Realize the Full Benefits of Agile Programs with a Purpose-Built Platform

Apptio Targetprocess allows your organization to quickly realize the full value potential of Agile programs with visual program boards, multi-year roadmaps, dependency management, resource and capacity planning, and value-stream management. It delivers a visual, single source of truth for work prioritization and allows Agile programs to be continuously aligned with strategic portfolios and strategic OKRs.

Apptio Targetprocess is a leading solution for strategic portfolio management (SPM) and enterprise agile planning (EAP) that allows business and technology planners at all levels to dynamically manage work, budgets, resources, agile programs, and portfolios while ensuring all are continuously aligned to the enterprise strategy. The combination of flexible data model, Solutions Library, and partner community make it the most agile SPM platform in the market. Targetprocess is the only SPM platform that integrates directly with the industry-leading ApptioOne financial management platform, enabling organizations to model true product TCO and more holistically manage the value of technology investments and innovation.