The most important things cannot be measured. The issues that are most important, long term, cannot be measured in advance.

—W. Edwards Deming

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

—Agile Manifesto

 

Metrics

Metrics are agreed-upon measures used to evaluate how well the organization is progressing toward the portfolio, large solution, ART, and team’s business and technical objectives.

Thanks to its work physics, Kanban systems, timeboxes, and fast feedback, Agile is inherently more measurable than its proxy-based predecessor, the waterfall process. Moreover, with Agile, the “system always runs.” So, the best measure comes directly from the objective evaluation of the working system. Continuous delivery and DevOps practices provide even more things to measure. All other measures—even the extensive set of Lean-Agile metrics outlined below—are secondary to the overriding goal of focusing on rapid delivery of high-quality solutions.

But metrics are indeed important in the enterprise context. SAFe provides metrics for each level of the Framework. The links below navigate to the entries on this page.

Enterprise Metrics

Business Agility Self-Assessment

The SAFe business agility self-assessment is a tool that helps portfolios evaluate their progress toward business agility. While the Implementation Roadmap provides a script for organizations implementing SAFe, the business agility self-assessment provides multiple landmarks along this journey for easier navigation.

The assessment is built around the seven core competencies of business agility. Each competency then splits into three dimensions, and the assessment provides a set of statements that determine progress along the 21 dimensions shown below in Figure 1.

The Measure and Grow article outlines the recommended steps for facilitating the business agility self-assessment, analyzing the results and identifying opportunities for growth.

Figure 1. Business agility self-assessment

Download SAFe Business Agility Self-Assessment

Portfolio Metrics

Lean Portfolio Metrics

In the spirit of ‘the simplest set of measures that can work,’ Figure 2 provides a comprehensive set of Lean portfolio metrics that can be used to assess internal and external progress for an entire portfolio.

Figure 2. Lean portfolio metrics

Lean Portfolio Management Self-Assessment

The Lean Portfolio Management competency aligns strategy and execution by applying Lean and systems thinking approaches to strategy and investment funding, Agile portfolio operations, and governance.

The Lean portfolio management self-assessment, Figure 3, enables the enterprise to assess their proficiency in this competency and identify potential areas for improvement. In support of this, the Lean Portfolio Management Grows are a set of recommended resources and actions organizations can leverage to create a learning organization that innovates and relentlessly improves.

Figure 3. Lean portfolio management self-assessment

Download Lean Portfolio Management Assessment

Continuous Learning Culture Self-Assessment

The Continuous Learning Culture competency describes a set of values and practices that encourage individuals—and the enterprise as a whole—to continually increase knowledge, competence, performance, and innovation. This is achieved by becoming a learning organization, committing to relentless improvement, and promoting a culture of innovation.

The continuous learning culture self-assessment, Figure 4, enables the enterprise to assess their proficiency in this competency and identify potential areas for improvement. In support of this, the Continuous Learning Culture Grows are a set of recommended resources and actions organizations can leverage to create a learning organization that innovates and relentlessly improves.

Figure 4. Continuous learning culture self-assessment

Download Continuous Learning Culture Assessment

Organizational Agility Self-Assessment

The Organizational Agility competency describes how Lean-thinking people and Agile teams optimize their business processes, evolve strategy with clear and decisive new commitments, and quickly adapt the organization as needed to capitalize on new opportunities.

The organizational agility self-assessment, Figure 5, enables the enterprise to assess their proficiency in this competency and identify potential areas for improvement. In support of this, the Organization Agility Grows are a set of recommended resources and actions organizations can leverage to create a learning organization that innovates and relentlessly improves.

Figure 5. Organizational agility self-assessment

Download Organizational Agility Assessment

Large Solution Metrics

Solution Train Predictability Measure

The Agile Release Trains (ARTs) predictability measures are summarized to calculate the Solution Train’s predictability measure, as illustrated in Figure 6.

 

Figure 6. Solution Train predictability measure

Solution Train Performance Metrics

The ARTs performance metrics are summarized to calculate the Solution Train’s performance metrics, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Solution Train performance metrics

Enterprise Solution Delivery Self-Assessment

Enterprise Solution Delivery describes how to apply Lean-Agile principles and practices to the specification, development, deployment, operation, and evolution of the world’s largest and most sophisticated software applications, networks, and cyber-physical systems.

The enterprise solution delivery self-assessment, Figure 8, enables the enterprise to assess their proficiency in this competency and identify potential areas for improvement. In support of this, the Enterprise Solution Delivery Grows are a set of recommended resources and actions organizations can leverage to create a learning organization that innovates and relentlessly improves.

Figure 8. Enterprise solution delivery self-assessment

Download Enterprise Solution Delivery Assessment

Essential Metrics

Feature Progress Report

The feature progress report tracks the status of features and enablers during PI execution. It indicates which features are on track or behind at any point in time. The chart has two bars:

  • Plan – Represents the total number of stories planned.
  • Actual – Represents the number of stories completed. The bar is shaded red or green, depending on whether or not the item is on track.

Figure 9 gives an example of a feature progress report.

Figure 9. Feature progress report, highlighting the status of each Feature compared to the Program Increment plan

Program Predictability Measure

The team PI performance reports are summarized to determine the program predictability measure, as illustrated in Figure 10. The report compares actual business value achieved to planned business value.

Figure 10. Program predictability measure, showing two of the teams on the train and program (cumulative)

For more on this approach, see chapter 15 of Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise [1].

Program Performance Metrics

The end of each PI is a natural and significant measuring point. Figure 11 shows a set of performance metrics for a program.

Figure 11. One train’s chart of performance metrics

Cumulative Flow Diagram

The Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) is made up of a series of lines or areas that show the amount of work in different Kanban states. For example, the typical states of the program Kanban are:

  • Funnel
  • Analyzing
  • Backlog
  • Implementing
  • Validating on staging
  • Deploying to production
  • Releasing
  • Done

Figure 12 shows the number of features in each Kanban state by day. The thicker areas in the CFD represent potential bottlenecks.

 

Figure 12. Example program kanban CFD

 

Continuous Delivery Pipeline Efficiency

The pipeline efficiency compares the amount of touch time versus wait time. Some of the information can be sourced automatically from tools, especially Continuous Integration, and Continuous Deployment, while other data requires manually recording in a spreadsheet. The value stream mapping technique is often applied to analyze problems identified in this report.

Note: The touch time represents when the team is adding value. Typically, touch time is only a small proportion of the total production time, most of the time is spent waiting, such as when moving work, waiting in queues and so on. This is clearly shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13. Continuous Delivery Pipeline efficiency

Deployments and Releases per Timebox

This metric is meant to demonstrate whether the program is making progress toward deploying and releasing more frequently. It can be viewed on a PI basis, as shown in Figure 14.

Figure 14. Deployments and releases per Program Increment

Or we can zoom in to see how releases are handled in mid-PI, as shown in Figure 15.

Figure 15. Deployments and releases per Iteration

Recovery over Time

This report measures the number of rollbacks that occurred either physically or by turning off feature toggles. The date when a solution was deployed or released to production is also plotted here to determine if there is a relationship between the two (Figure 16).

Figure 16. Recovery over time

Innovation Accounting and Leading Indicators

One of the goals of the Continuous Delivery Pipeline is to enable the organization to run experiments quickly to allow Customers to validate the hypotheses. As a result, both Minimal Marketable Features (MMFs) and Minimal Viable Products (MVPs) must define the leading indicators to measure progress toward the benefit hypothesis. Avoid relying on vanity metrics that do not measure real progress.

Figure 17 shows some metrics that were gathered from the SAFe website to demonstrate leading indicators for our development efforts.

Figure 17. Leading indicators for SAFe website innovation accounting

DevOps Health Radar

The DevOps Health Radar is a tool to assess the progress of your program in improving the flow of value through Continuous Delivery Pipeline. Figure 18 shows the 16 sub-dimensions that programs should use to assess their maturity. It helps to identify the sub-dimensions in which we are sitting, crawling, walking, running, or flying, and identify places to improve.

Figure 18. DevOps Health Radar

Download DevOps Health Radar

You can also go to our partner’s site, Agile Transformation, to take an online version of the assessment at https://agilityhealthradar.com/safe-devops-assessment.

Iteration Metrics

Each Agile Team gathers the iteration metrics they’ve agreed to collect. This occurs in the quantitative part of the team retrospective. Figure 19 illustrates the chart for the measurements of one team.

Figure 19. One team’s chart of iteration metrics

Team PI Performance Report

During the PI System Demo, the Business Owners, Customers, Agile teams, and other key stakeholders rate the actual business value (BV) achieved for each team’s PI Objectives as shown in Figure 20.

Figure 20. Team PI performance report

Reliable trains should operate in the 80 – 100 percent range; this allows the business and its outside stakeholders to plan effectively. Below are some notes about how the report works:

  • The planned total BV does not include uncommitted objectives to help the reliability of the train
  • The actual total BV does include uncommitted objectives
  • The achievement percentage is the actual BV ÷ planned BV
  • A team can achieve greater than 100 percent (as a result of uncommitted objectives achieved)

Individual team totals are rolled up into the program predictability measure (see Figure 20).

Lean-Agile Leadership Self-Assessment

The Lean-Agile Leadership competency describes how Lean-Agile Leaders drive and sustain organizational change and operational excellence by empowering individuals and teams to reach their highest potential. They do this through leading by example; learning and modeling SAFe’s Lean-Agile mindset, values, principles, and practices; and leading the change to a new way of working.

The Lean-Agile leadership self-assessment, Figure 21, enables the enterprise to assess their proficiency in this competency and identify potential areas for improvement. In support of this, the Lean-Agile Leadership Grows are a set of recommended resources and actions organizations can leverage to improve the effectiveness of leaders as exhibit the Lean-Agile mindset and guide the organization through the changes associated with SAFe implementation.

Figure 21. Lean-Agile leadership self-assessment

Download Lean-Agile Leadership Assessment

Agile Product Delivery Self-Assessment

Grounded in a clear understanding of the customer, the Agile Product Delivery competency leverages a design thinking mindset to an increasingly automated continuous delivery pipeline that provides the ability to release value as, and when, needed.

The Agile product delivery self-assessment, Figure 22, enables the enterprise to assess their proficiency in this competency and identify potential areas for improvement. In support of this, the Agile Product Delivery Grows are a set of recommended resources and actions organizations can leverage to improve the effectiveness of their product delivery competency.

Figure 22. Agile product delivery self-assessment

Download Agile Product Delivery Assessment

Team and Technical Agility Self-Assessment

The Team and Technical Agility competency is the collection of foundational practices on which Agile development is based. Only by creating high-performing teams and ARTs, that apply built-in quality, can true value be delivered quickly and reliably to customers.

The team and technical agility self-assessment, Figure 23, enables the enterprise to assess their proficiency in this competency and identify potential areas for improvement. In support of this, the Team and Technical Agility Grows are a set of recommended resources and actions organizations can leverage to improve the effectiveness of their Agile teams and trains.

Figure 23. Team and technical agility self-assessment

Download Team and Technical Agility Assessment


 

Learn More

[1] Leffingwell, Dean. Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise. Addison-Wesley, 2011.

[2] Leffingwell, Dean. Scaling Software Agility: Best Practices for Large Enterprises. Addison-Wesley, 2007.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOjPpeBh40s

Last update: 6 April 2020