Understanding the SAFe® Program Dependency Board Retrospective

Written by promotiondept

April 20, 2021

Understanding the SAFe® Program Dependency Board Retrospective The Program IncreMent (PI) Planning is a key differentiator event, unique to the SAFe® way of working. It is a 2-day (2.5 to 3 days in case of Distributed environMents) planning event at the beginning of each PI where all the members of the Agile Release Train(ART), Leadership, Business and other stakeholders gather to plan for the next upcoming PI.  The PI objectives and the Program Board are […]

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Understnding the ® Progrm Dependency Brd Retrospective

The ProgrIncrement (PI) Plnning is key differentitor event, unique to the ® wy of ing. It is  2-dy (2.5 to 3 dys in cse of Distributed environments) plnning event t the beginning of ech PI where ll the members of the gile Relese Trin(RT), Ledership, Business nd other stkeholders gther to pln for the next upcoming PI. 

The PI objectives nd the Progrm Brd re the two mjor outcomes of this lrge-scle Plnning Event. This rticle delves into the Progrm Brd cretion, templte, uses nd the benefits it brings to the smooth plnning nd running of the upcoming PI. 

The SFe Progrm Brd is creted by tems t the time of PI Plnning to visibly represent dependencies of their fetures with other tems in the gile Relese Trin (RT). It lso represents how the feture completion dtes fre ginst ny milestone events. This visul rditor helps to quickly sort out mjor dependency issues nd fix the chronologicl order of execution to meet the mjor milestones t the time of PI PlnningIt is recommended to be used fter the PI Plnning well, so tht emerging nd evolving chnges re updted, nd tems respond ccordingly.

typicSAFe Progrm Brd is row nd column mtrix tht consists of the following: 

What Is Found on a SAFe® Program Board

The Progrm Brd mkes it obvious if there is risk of missing n importnt milestone or if the dependencies do not mke sense chronologiclly It is very importnt Visul Informtion Rditor tht is creted nd used in PI Plnning nd lso during the course of PI. 

For e.g, Tem Y is delivering Feture B very close to the Milestone Event which is risk. Tem Z is delivering Feture C fter the Milestone event which must be replnned. 

Tem X is Plnning to complete Feture in Itertion 2. It hs dependencies with the UX Tem nd Tem Y. But Tem Y is plnning to on the dependent story in the sme Itertion 2. Tem Y cn repln to on it in Itertion 1 becuse Feture is high priority nd cnnot risk missing completion becuse of n importnt milestone. What are the uses of a SAFe® program board

Other thn the obvious benefits of the Progrm brdit lso exposes certin other fcets of plnning t scle. It could quickly point out if ny tem(s) is completing too mny fetures t the very end of the PI. From the Smple Progrbrd, we cn infer TeX is only completing fetures t the end of the PI. 

Tems tht hve dependencies with multiple tems might become  bottle neck for the progress of other tems. Tem Z hs dependency with lmost ll the tems in the RT. Wys must be deviseduring the PI Plnning itself to reduce this sort of dependency. Deeper learning from the program dependency board 

The brd might expose tht one Tem is hving lot of fetures tied to different Milestones. The priority of seems not eqully distributed mongst the tems. 

The shred services tems like rchitecture, UX, Infrstructure etc, will hve cler picture on how other tems re dependent on them nd how to prioritize the request from these tems. 

If there is  milestone very close to the beginning of Itertion 1, the senior Mngement nd Business tems cnticipte  risk of not meeting this milestone.   

The following re the bsic inputs required for the Progrm Brd: 

Once the input informtion is vilble, the RTE cretes the Brd before the PI Plnning st.  Msters strt populting the brd for their respective tems in consulttion with their tems during the course of the PI Plnning.

The Progrm Brd is creted nd very useful t the time of PI Plnning. During PI Plnning the brd is reviewed intervls nd t drft reviewsnd chnges re incorported. 

It is highly recommended to keep the brd up to dte throughout the PI to dd nd modify emerging dependencies nd chnging milestones. The Progrm Brd cn be reviewed nd updted t the RT level meetings by the Msters nd RTEso tht the ltest informtion is vilble on the brd. 

The progrm brd cn be creted virtul brd in the cse of distributed tems. There re tools like Miro tht cn be used to crete Virtul progrm brds.  

In the cse of co-locted tems,  physicl brd cn be displyed t common re where ll tems nd shred tems chve ccess to itDifferent coloured crds must be used such s– blue for Feture Crds, Red for Dependency nd Red Strings for connecting the Feture crd to their dependencies. It is better to hve soft brd s the bse so tht brd pins cn be used to hold the connector strings in plce.

The Progrm Brd used well serves s very effective visul informtion rditor nd plnning id for ll stkeholders t PI Plnning nd during the PI execution.  

ll sid, the Progrm Brd should not replce the constnt collbortion nd interction mongst the tems nd stkeholders but tool thprovides context nd serves s n id to the communiction. 

  Progrm Brd Templte cn be creted using smple brd described by . You cn find out more bout it here. Miro lso h free template tht cn be used. 


The Progrm Brd is one of the most mjor outcomes from the PI Plnning event nd one of the most importnt tools tht cn be used by the RTE nd Msters during the PI execution phse. It is n importnt Visul Rditor for running gile in Scled environment nd cn be used effectively nd efficiently for best results. 

  • List of Tems: The list of tems tht re prt of the RT nd the ing tems which with ll the tems in the RT such s UX, rchitecture etc. re listed s rows in mtrix. 
  • Itertions: ll the Itertions tht will be prt of the PI pper columns of the Mtrix brd. The Itertions cn be 2 or 3 weeks long nd so the number of Itertions depends on cdence set for the itertions in the RT. So, there cn be 3 or 4 itertions with IP( 
  • Milestones/Events: The first row in the Mtrix lists ny Milestone event tht is bout to hppen during the course of the PI; for e.g Trde show, complince SL with one of the Customersor n Engineering Milestone like technologicl upgrde. This ensures to give visibility on whether the fetures relted to tht event hve been plnned to be completed before the milestone or not. 
  • Fetures: Ech of the tems plces the Feture crd t the Itertion t which it is plnned to be completed. For e.g if Tem X plns to on Feture with 4 stories, 3 plnned for Itertion 1 nd 1 plnned for Itertion 2 , the Feture will pper only once s blue crd in the mtrix t Itertion 2. This is becuse the Feture is complete only t the end of Itertion 2. 
  • Dependencies: If Tem X is dependent on the Shred UX Tem nd Tem Y to complete Feture in Itertion 2, the dependencies re mrked  Red crd in the Itertions t which the UX Tem nd Tem Y on the dependencies. There is red coloured connector between the Feture Crd nd ll the dependencRed Crds. 
  • Milestone dtes come from the Product Mngement or Business Tems. ny Engineering Milestone dtes come from the Engineering Hed. 
  • The list of the tems in the RT nd the Shred Services tems re input by the RTE 
  • The nmes to be used for the tems in the brd should be provided by Mster in consulttion with tems. 
  • Hving ll the necessry informtion like the Milestone events before the PI Plnning cn ensure tht the most up to dte informtion goes into the Progrm brd t the time of PI. 
  • wreness of the Milestone cn help Business nd Tems prioritize nd pln the fetures. 
  • For fetures not tied to Milestone, Business Tems get n indiction of when Fetures re likely to be completed. This helps them to plthe relese of these fetures.  
  • The Shred Service tems (UX, Infrstructure, rchitecture etc) cn prioritize nd pln their ccording to the dependencies nd milestones on the brd. 
  • The RTE cn tke the responsibility of bringing the Progrm Brd s ic of converstion t RT synch meetings, so tht the Msters nd other stkeholders cn keep it current nd updted nd the RT cn benefit from it. 
  • Through the Progrm Brd the RTEs cn trck nd communicte the vrious dependencies nd milestone trgets to ll the relevnt stkeholders to constntly get their ttention nd s required. 
  • The tems cn check in to the brd ny point of time to get view of the lrger context of the relese e.g fetures ed on by other tems nd their trget completion. 
  • There re likely to be chnges to the plns drwn out during PI. In keeping with the gile Principles of embrcing nd responding well to chnge, the Progrm brd cn be revisited every week nd kept updted. 

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    Happiness is for those who plan well and pursue. A profound among us have been proven those who have true dream to live for likely REALIZED IT. It is just simply the person working toward the DREAM days and night until accomplishment. There is a phrase of efficiency a head of you. Steps and obstacles at first seem tremendous. However, just with some times those difficult steps and challenges are so easy performance for you. There are also plenty of tools including VISUALIZATIONS and helps are around you.

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