The Importance of Right-Sized Epics in SAFe
Alan Shalloway, CEO of NetObjectives, a Scaled Agile Gold partner, is an SPC and a long-time community contributor to SAFe. With over 40 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, SAFe, Scrum and agile design. Al always has unique and insightful observations about software and systems development. Recently, Al and I were collaborating on how to tackle some important SAFe implementation challenges, and I was excited to learn about a new blog he wrote about the importance of right-sized epics in SAFe.
In his blog, Al starts off by recognizing that SAFe stresses the importance of building incrementally, and prioritizing epics according to value, using WSJF. He reminds us that the essence of WSJF prioritization is to realize the greatest value, over the shortest period of time.
Using WSJF to simply compare epics to determine the order of implementation has great value, but he goes on to say “it’s not enough to compare which epics are most important, it’s critical to discover which parts of an epic should be built, deferring the rest for later.” After all, he says, “the point of splitting epics is not to deliver less, but rather to deliver the highest value part of the epic and deliver that as soon as possible. And then to discover the next most important part of the epic and deliver that. And so on, as long as there is value to be realized relative to other opportunities.”
You can read the rest of his blog by clicking here. It contains many other good insights, such as these and more:
- The importance of the right-sized epics is to realize value quicker.
- The smaller the epic, the more alignment can be achieved.
- Split epics to discover the portion with the highest value.
- Align everyone on completing those right-sized epics first, before going on to the next one.
- A common approach to splitting epics involves identifying the most important features. Move the focus from “how do we implement this feature” to “what part of the epic will enable us to realize business value quicker.”
I hope you find this blog as interesting and useful as I did.
Always be SAFe,
Richard Knaster and the SAFe Framework team