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May 18, 2023

Boosting Project Flow with Metrics: Unleashing the Power of SAFe

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In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations strive to optimize their project management efforts to stay competitive. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has emerged as a proven approach to manage large-scale projects effectively. 

As a key principle of SAFe, the concept of “flow” aims to deliver value swiftly and consistently. Leveraging agile metrics to enhance flow and achieve greater project success can yield both  impressive and ongoing results. In this article, we will explore the most helpful metrics for increasing flow in project management while using SAFe.

Aligning Metrics with Goals

Measuring anything effectively requires identifying your goals and aligning metrics to them. In SAFe, there are many project and organizational goals supported by increased flow. Here are just a few:

Faster Time-to-Market: Flow directly impacts the speed at which value is delivered to customers. By increasing flow, organizations can reduce cycle times, lead times, and delivery delays. This enables faster time-to-market, allowing organizations to respond to market demands more quickly, gain a competitive advantage, and seize business opportunities in a rapidly changing environment.

Improved Customer Satisfaction: Flow is closely tied to customer satisfaction. By increasing flow, teams can deliver value more frequently, consistently, and predictably. This leads to higher customer satisfaction as customers receive the products or features they need in a timely manner. Satisfied customers are more likely to become loyal advocates, which can contribute to business growth and success.

Enhanced Agility and Adaptability: Flow is a fundamental aspect of agility. Organizations that prioritize flow can respond to changes, adapt their strategies, and pivot their focus more efficiently. Increased flow allows teams to iterate quickly, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments. This agility enables organizations to remain competitive, address customer needs effectively, and navigate uncertainties in a complex business landscape.

Optimized Resource Utilization: Improved flow ensures that resources are utilized efficiently. By minimizing bottlenecks, optimizing work processes, and reducing waste, teams can make better use of their available resources. This leads to increased productivity, reduced idle time, and improved resource allocation. Optimized resource utilization enables organizations to make the most of their human and material resources, ultimately driving better results.

Continuous Improvement and Learning: Flow provides valuable insights into the performance of teams and processes. By measuring flow metrics and visualizing the flow of work, organizations can identify areas for improvement and implement targeted changes. This fosters a culture of continuous improvement, where teams can experiment, learn from their experiences, and optimize their workflow iteratively. Continuous improvement, driven by increased flow, enables organizations to achieve higher levels of performance and adapt to changing circumstances effectively.

Operational Efficiency and Cost Optimization: Flow optimization directly impacts operational efficiency and cost optimization. By reducing waste, streamlining processes, and eliminating unnecessary handoffs or delays, organizations can operate more efficiently. Increased flow reduces overhead, enables teams to work on value-adding activities, and minimizes rework. This leads to cost savings, improved resource utilization, and better return on investment.

Now that we have the goals of flow in mind, there are various agile metrics we can use to help measure and boost flow.

Key Metrics for increasing Flow in SAFe

Several of the goals cited above have to do with time and efficiency. Others, like customer satisfaction and continuous improve also consider quality. While the concept of flow naturally reflects project dynamics that have to do with time, effective metrics focused on increasing flow necessarily take both time and quality into account. Taken together, the following metrics can address and support each of the goals identified above.

Cycle Time

Cycle time measures the time it takes for a work item to move through the system from start to finish. By tracking cycle time, teams gain visibility into their workflow efficiency and are able to identify bottlenecks or delays. This metric allows teams to optimize their processes and ensure a smooth flow of work, reducing lead time and improving overall productivity.

Lead Time

While cycle time focuses on the time taken for a work item to be completed, lead time encompasses the entire duration from when a request is made until it is fulfilled. It includes any wait time or time spent in queues. By analyzing lead time, teams gain insights into the effectiveness of their end-to-end processes. Identifying and reducing lead time helps teams streamline workflows, minimize waiting periods, and increase flow.

Work in Progress (WIP) Limits

Implementing Work in Progress (WIP) limits is a powerful technique to manage flow effectively. WIP limits help teams focus on how much work they take on in each cycle. By setting - and then reviewing and adjusting - specific limits on the number of work items that can be in progress simultaneously, teams prevent work overload, long queues, and oversized batches..

Cumulative Flow 

Cumulative Flow reports provide a visual representation of work items' status over time. This agile metric showcases the distribution of work across various stages, revealing bottlenecks and imbalances in the workflow. By analyzing cumulative flow reports, teams can identify areas where work is piling up and take proactive measures to improve flow.  Cumulative flow data also aid in forecasting project completion and resource allocation, enabling teams to make data-driven decisions.


Velocity is a metric commonly used in agile methodologies to measure the rate at which a team completes work during a specific time frame. In SAFe, velocity becomes essential for large-scale projects involving multiple teams. By tracking velocity, teams gain insights into their productivity, enabling them to plan and forecast future work more accurately. A consistent and improving velocity indicates a healthy flow, while a declining velocity might indicate underlying issues that need attention.

Escaped Defects

Tracking escaped defects is crucial to maintaining flow and delivering high-quality software. This metric captures defects that pass through the development process undetected and are discovered later in production or during testing by customers. By measuring and analyzing escaped defects, teams can identify areas for improvement in their development practices, testing strategies, and quality assurance processes. Minimizing escaped defects ensures smoother flow, reduces rework, and enhances customer satisfaction.

Customer Satisfaction

Tracking and evaluating customer satisfaction metrics, such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction Surveys, allows teams to gauge the impact of their work on end-users. By continuously gathering feedback, teams can align their efforts with customer expectations and can use this feedback to enhance flow through confirmed priorities and clear direction. 

Better metrics for better flow, yielding better outcomes

In the realm of SAFe project management, flow is a powerful force behind delivering value effectively and consistently. Increased flow is essential in SAFe agile as it enables organizations to deliver value faster, enhance customer satisfaction, be more adaptable, optimize resource utilization, foster continuous improvement, and improve operational efficiency. By prioritizing flow and aligning metrics in support of this goal, organizations can achieve higher levels of performance, respond to market dynamics, and drive long-term success.

Discover the DevStride Difference

DevStride’s data-rich reports provide organizations with a holistic view of projects and performance. Our capabilities go beyond team-specific metrics, enabling you to accurately assess the state of work and progress across the entire enterprise and for any segment. 

DevStride’s reports and analytics easily support increased flow, allowing you to:

✓ Accurately assess the state of work

✓ Spot trends and patterns

✓ Identify areas for improvement

✓ Manage risks and prevent bottlenecks

✓ Take immediate action

DevStride reports for data-driven SAFe teams include:

  1. Current Progress
  2. Trending Progress
  3. Cycle Time
  4. Lead Time
  5. Throughput
  6. Cumulative Flow 
  7. Burn Down
  8. Burn Up
  9. Churn
  10. Velocity

DevStride stands apart as a modern project and portfolio management tool that delivers unprecedented collaboration, planning, execution, and analysis capabilities to complex teams. Large organizations have to coordinate work with many teams at once, and DevStride provides a seamless experience that breaks down project silos to drive coherent value delivery across a portfolio of work. When two or more teams need to collaborate to reach a goal, DevStride is there. 

DevStride offers easy and flexible strategic project and portfolio mapping, visual boards, and tools to track work progress. These capabilities enable effective collaboration and provide decision support that allow teams to deliver better outcomes.

Here are just a few of the key ways DevStride’s powerful solution can help you in your project and portfolio management goals:

Project Management savvy - Purpose built for agile project and portfolio management by agile practitioners who have lived it. DevStride supports Scrum, SAFe, Kanban, as well as traditional project management, and more. DevStride delivers the approach every team needs across the organization, regardless of the framework they use.

Workstream mapping to strategic goals and objectives - ensures work is focused on the right projects and is aligned with goals.

Visual boards and indicators - display throughout the tool for ease of use and information at-a-glance, including priorities, progress, completion rates, and status. 

Collaborative workspaces - support communication through common workspaces, breaking silos and promoting cohesion. 

Advanced filtering and reporting - DevStride gives instant access to status and multidimensional data up and down all projects, enterprise-wide. Its flexible custom fields and tags allow team members to track risks, bugs, ratings, priorities and any other relevant information, providing an easy way to search, sort, and report on any data, any time. Reports include burn up, burn down, velocity, progress, throughput, cumulative flow, churn, and more.

Prioritization and sizing - planned work and backlogs are clear and easy to manage through priority fields, tags, Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) estimation capabilities, T-Shirt sizing, story points, and more.

Dynamic roadmapping - provides an easy way to manage story and epics for release tracking.

Workflow automations - allow users to make use of intuitive, customizable event and criteria-based triggers to notify owners, promote task management, monitor for potential issues, and stay informed.

Work in Progress (WIP) limiters - manage the risk of task overload and potential delays.

Rich Analytics - DevStride reports and analytics provide a powerful and effective way to identify potential issues before they become problems. Beyond raw data, DevStride tightens feedback loops and provides deep insights to make the kind of informed decisions leaders and teams need. Measure flow and more with intuitive -  and actionable - reports.

Meaningful AI - DevStride supports the ability to easily generate workstreams, tasks, and even relevant content through impressive artificial intelligence capabilities.

About DevStride

‍Our mission is to eliminate stress, anxiety, and uncertainty around project and portfolio management...reducing fragmentation and improving product delivery. DevStrides provides immediate answers to complex questions, so that even the most complex organizations have a clear path to better outcomes.

If you need access to a modern project and portfolio management tool that can help you plan and control your projects, then schedule an introductory call with us today

Tired of guessing, failing, and losing time to rework? Contact DevStride. www.Devstride.com.

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