Enterprise/ Portfolio Kanban

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 power, effective and yet, simple and efficient way!

Once your teams start using Kanban, you get powerful 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: Best Portfolio Kanban Tool!

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.

The SwiftKanban Portfolio Management features can be grouped in the following categories –

  • Portfolio Modeling
  • Portfolio Tracking and Management
  • Demand Assessment/ Shaping
  • Capacity Measurement and Booking/ Allocation Planning
  • Opportunity and Risk Assessment & Portfolio Prioritization
  • Scope and Schedule Forecasting

Portfolio Modeling

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 large organization or a large scale business, a Portfolio could have:


In a typical Program Management environment, one could have a hierarchy that looks like this –

program management

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.

Card and Board Hierarchy

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.

Using a combination of Card Hierarchy and multiple boards, you can create a powerful and flexible Portfolio Model or a Work Hierarchy as needed, in minutes!

Portfolio Tracking and Management

Once a portfolio or a general hierarchy has been created, you can easily track the work being done in the portfolio using a powerful set of capabilities.

Kanban Portfolio Management

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!

Portfolio Lane

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.

Progress Drilldown

The Card Hierarchy progress bar provides you 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 – both summary and detail level. Once the progress bar is completely green, you know that the parent cards is ready to move to the next stage.

portfolio drilldown

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 or 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.

Demand Assessment/ Shaping

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 power, effective and yet, simple and efficient way!

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.

Capacity Measurement and Booking/ Allocation Planning

Using SwiftESP as well as the standard flow analytics of the system, managers and teams can easily 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.  Thie 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 breakdown the capacity also by different attributes such as work type, size or class of service.

Throughput or velocity charts

With this analysis available, it becomes easy for management to plan and allocate capacity to different initiatives or products/ projects.  This can be done on a simple board that reflects the planning style of the organization, from quarterly to monthly level of planning.

capacity planning

Opportunity and Risk Assessment & Portfolio Prioritization

Using SwiftESP’s Risk Assessment framework, you can easily define a multi-dimensional assessment framework that helps you and your portfolio managers and risk managers to regularly assess the opportunity vs. risk for key organizational initiatives and score them on a regular basis.

Risk Assessment Framework

Based on these scores and the current risk appetite of the organization as well as strategic objects, the management team and the portfolio/ product/ project managers can select the appropriate initiatives or OKRs to prioritize and execute.

Risk Analysis

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 lower-level epics or features for a specific product for making data-based decisions easily.

Scope and Schedule Forecasting

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.

ESP Module

Not only does SwiftKanban give you the forecast, it also provides a variable probability or confidence factor so you can make the forecast with confidence needed to deliver the project – while making it completely transparent to the customer or stakeholder.

Defining WIP Limit for Resources

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.

Resource WIP Limit

Defining and Tracking Dependencies

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.

Visualize your workflow and manage your work in an Easy and Intuitive way.

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