Kanban has a natural ability to support Portfolio Management. Kanban can be applied to any level of an organization’s workflow – from Strategic Objectives/ OKRs to the Programs or Initiatives that support them, down to the Projects and Tasks that need to be executed to achieve those Objectives or OKRs. At each level of the hierarchy, a Kanban Board can be used to manage those OKRs, Initiatives, Projects and the Tasks.
Kanban applied to Portfolio Management is often referred to as Portfolio Kanban or Visual Portfolio Management. You can learn more about Portfolio Kanban here in our Kanban Guide.
Besides planning and tracking the strategic initiatives, programs and projects, Portfolio Management also deals with Resource Management/ Allocation/ Reservation, Risk Management, Balancing Demand and Capacity/ Capability and so forth, to ensure that at an organizational level the
leadership is prioritizing the right programs and projects, based on the information they need for these projects.
Using the extensive visualization hierarchy modeling in Kanban and combining it with the statistical modeling and forecasting capabilities of Enterprise Services Planning in SwiftESP, you can manage your portfolio of products, projects and services in a powerful, effective and yet, simple and efficient way!
Once your teams start using Kanban, you get insights into the capability and capacity of each team or each service your organization provides. Using this data, you can do a variety of things related to Portfolio Management –
SwiftKanban provides several important features needed by organizations to support Portfolio Management practices visually, elegantly and most important of all, with actionable insights for both leadership and teams to be in sync about all the work that needs to be done or is being done.
SwiftKanban’s Portfolio Management features can be grouped into the following categories –
Modeling a portfolio – or any hierarchy, requires you to identify the specific entities that will be managed in a Portfolio or any work hierarchy.
In a software development context, especially in Agile software development, one could have a hierarchy that includes:
SwiftKanban supports all of these models with a flexible Card Hierarchy that can be set up within one board or across multiple boards.
Each entity in a hierarchy – such as OKR – Initiative – Program – Project – can be modeled as a card-type in SwiftKanban. These card types can then be linked in Parent-Child hierarchy templates at the account level. You can also choose which card type can be linked to others and by what kind of relationship.
Once a template is defined, it can be used, you can use it to define links between cards on the same board or across multiple different boards.
Portfolio Lane SwiftKanban has a unique type of swim lane, the Portfolio lane, that helps you visualize and track progress of parent-level cards in terms of % completion progress, as well as move the cards in the Portfolio lane automatically!
The Portfolio Lane allows for multiple ways to calculate the % progress of cards moving in the lane, which you can select at the time of setting up the lane. Based on the selected criterion for % progress, these parent-level cards automatically advance in the Portfolio Lane, visually indicating their progress to portfolio managers.
SwiftKanban lets you model sophisticated processes, where a card’s progress is not only measured by the progress of its child cards’ progress, but other attributes as well such as the card’s own To-Do’s or Effort completion.
Percent Progress Column
You can also define a specific column of a default (non-portfolio) Swimlane to be a Percent Progress Column in SwiftKanban. If any of the stages of your value-stream or lane requires a card to be managed and moved based on portfolio, then you can simply convert that stage or column into a Percent Progress Column.
(For more information, please visit this page. https://www.digite.com/knowledge-base/swiftkanban/article/working-with-percent-progress-column/)
The Card Hierarchy progress bar provides a visual indication of how much progress has been made by a card’s children. You can click on the link to see the drill-down view of child cards and their progress status – at both both summary and detail levels. Once the progress bar is completely green, you know that the parent card is ready to move to the next stage.
In the card hierarchy, you also get full status information on which cards are in progress or completed – and on which board they are located. Using these you get a powerful capability to manage your portfolios of strategic or operational importance much more easily and effectively than conventional portfolio management tools that are far more data intensive and complex to operate and use.
Using the Enterprise Services Planning module of SwiftKanban, you can do dynamic what-if analysis on a rich variety of data, using your Kanban system’s past performance data.
The SwiftESP module provides powerful analysis and visualization of your service’s demand and capacity profile.
Using the filters panel, you can get a clear picture of the inflow of demand – both value demand and failure demand – on your team. You can further drill down on specific parts of the value stream and understand the flow of demand on different teams involved in the overall value stream and their capability to deliver on that demand.
Using this information, you can then take it further to assess and shape the overall demand for your team to work on, using the Risk Assessment functionality of SwiftESP.
Using SwiftESP as well as the standard flow analytics of the system, managers can understand what capacity is available for each planning time period and define a Planning Kanban board to book capacity of a specific service or a team. This booking/ allocation can be done for multiple services or teams on a single board for ease of planning and decision making.
SwiftKanban’s throughput or velocity charts provide an easy way to determine service capacity – as also SwiftESP’s Capacity analysis. These can also break down the capacity by different attributes such as work type, size or class of service.
This opportunity and risk assessment can be applied to any category and level of work, from the highest level strategic OKRs and objectives that impact multiple products or programs, to the lower-level epics or features for a specific product for making data-based decisions easily.
Based on the performance of each service line, the ESP module helps management and service leaders build reliable forecasts of what they can deliver based on their capacity and the typical nature of the demand on their services.
Using sophisticated statistical techniques, including Monte Carlo simulation, you can forecast how much a service can deliver over a certain time frame, or for a given size of a project, such as a release or sprint, how long it would take to deliver that project.
Not only does SwiftKanban give you the forecast, it also provides a variable probability or confidence factor so you can make a forecast with the confidence needed to deliver the project while making it completely transparent to the customer or stakeholder.
SwiftKanban helps you better define available resource capacity and visualize and manage the work done by teams in the organization.
You can define a WIP limit for every user and apply that limit across all projects for that user using the User WIP Limit feature. WIP limit can be set based on the number of cards a user can handle at a time, the total number of story points that can be assigned or other custom (numeric) parameters that you might want to use.
Once the WIP limit is set, the Kanban system can be configured to either limit further allocation of work to the resource or alert the user to the fact that their WIP limit has been exceeded.
Program and Portfolio Management often requires keeping track of the cards across boards which might be dependent on each other for completion so that they get executed in a synchronized manner to achieve the objectives.
SwiftKanban’s Dependency Board enables you to define and visualize these dependencies between cards at different levels across different Kanban boards.
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