Figure 4. Enhancing alignment across a SAFe portfolio with Value Stream and ART OKRs

Updated Metrics Article: Measuring Outcomes and Flow

News SAFe Framework Updates

The Metrics article describes a simple yet comprehensive measurement model for business agility defined along three domains: Outcomes, Flow and Competency. Within each measurement domain, the article offers example metrics that can be applied at each level of the Framework. However, these examples were never meant to be exhaustive, and the model is designed to be extensible with other outcome, flow, and competency metrics supplemented by SAFe Enterprises, who know their business best. Some of these additional metrics are beneficial to all organizations; therefore, we have added four of these in an update to the Metrics article.

    1. Enhancing alignment and delivering better outcomes with OKRs

Outcome metrics help determine whether a development organization’s efforts produce the desired business benefit. Whereas Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) represent ongoing ‘health’ metrics that can be used to measure overall business performance and the success of existing solutions, there is a critical need to understand whether the portfolio is tracking toward outcomes needed to achieve future success and execute its strategy. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), defined across value streams and ARTs, provide a means to maintain alignment with these outcomes and are an important addition to the article.

Figure 4. Enhancing alignment across a SAFe portfolio with Value Stream and ART OKRs
Enhancing alignment across a SAFe portfolio with Value Stream and ART OKRs
    1. Increasing productivity and innovation with engaged employees

Employee engagement measures the amount to which individuals feel motivated and actively engaged in supporting the organization’s goals and values. Higher levels of employee engagement result in higher productivity, efficiency, and innovation levels. Consequently, lower levels of employee engagement can lead to poor motivation, lower-quality work, and higher staff turnover. We heard from many SAFe Enterprises that this metric measures a critical internal outcome, and as such, we have added it to the measurement model.

    1. Ensuring a balanced portfolio with Portfolio Flow

Flow distribution measures the different types of work items in the system at any one time. Typically this is used for balancing customer-facing and technical work, knowing that too much of one type is detrimental. An application of flow distribution across the Portfolio has now been recognized in the article. Tracking funding distribution across investment horizons provides a means to visualize a balanced portfolio that ensures both near- and long-term health.

    1. Measuring DevOps capabilities with DORA metrics

Within and across the three measurement domains, it can often be helpful to bring together complementary metrics to provide a specific view of performance. An example is the DORA metrics used to measure the performance of an organization’s DevOps capabilities. The four DORA metrics are 1) deployment frequency, 2) lead time for changes, 3) time to restore service, and 4) change failure rate. The article now describes how each of these is an application of a flow metric designed for a particular use case.

We hope you find these additions useful as you measure your progress toward business agility.

Stay SAFe



Author Info

Andrew Sales

comment (10)

  1. Rochelle Tan

    29 Nov 2022 - 3:29 pm

    Thank you for this update and additional info on measuring outcomes and flow. I particularly like the section on “Enhancing alignment and delivering better outcomes with OKRs.” This is a common point of confusion and debate for stakeholders within large organizations. The examples and visual helps with the narrative.


      01 Dec 2022 - 3:27 pm

      You’re very welcome, Rochelle. If you’re interested in more information on the recommended use of OKRs in SAFe, be sure to have a look at this article.

  2. Joseph Barjis

    29 Nov 2022 - 8:15 am

    It is a great mini-article, concise and well-structured
    Two things stand out to me:
    1) It is a model and subject to extension to match your reality;
    2) Ask your business what matters to them and measure that.
    E.g.: If it is merely happiness of employees, establish parameters around it and measure progress towards that objective of happiness.

    We conducted a similar bottom-up survey to establish what Business Outcomes the company wants from the Agile Transformation. In an open and inclusive manner, people expressed to see:
    + Strategy & Execution Alignment
    + Human Centricity
    + Flow Optimization
    + Flexibility to Pivot
    + Learning Organization

    A question that I am entertaining in my mind is:
    Q1: Can these Objectives be treated as a system, whose components are lower level objectives?
    In this spirit, the accomplishment of the most higher level Objective is a product of all lower level objectives and, of course, their bonds of influence on each other.

    Q2: Another question is: Where does stand PI Objectives?
    If I look at the above diagram, which I like, I would say that the Objectives defined at the ART level should drive the ongoing solutions (Features) an ART delivers each PI.


      01 Dec 2022 - 3:23 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Joseph. Regarding Q1, this certainly is a ‘system’ where goals and metrics are linked throughout the organization. However, care should be taken to avoid cascading, where goals and metrics are imposed from the top down. Regarding Q2, PI Objectives do deserve special attention outside this metrics model. The metrics and OKRs articles each have a section dedicated to addressing them.

  3. Jonathan Lowry

    28 Nov 2022 - 8:14 am


    Thank you for the additional information around metrics.

    Is there a recommended tool(s) or application, that can produce these metrics?



      01 Dec 2022 - 1:30 pm

      Hi, Jonathan. There are far too many tools to list here. (That’s actually a great thing!) As a starting point, here’s a list of tool vendors that are also SAFe partners. Be sure to filter on ‘Platform’ as the partner type.

  4. Grace Ngwe Akum epse Njei

    25 Nov 2022 - 7:45 am

    Very interesting article. Thank you so much


      01 Dec 2022 - 1:24 pm

      Thank you, Grace. Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Silvia Leonor Vargas Escalona

    23 Nov 2022 - 5:06 pm

    I liked the article very much, I have a doubt, though. At an ART level, shouldn’t we focus on leading indicators instead of OKRs?


      01 Dec 2022 - 1:21 pm

      Hi, Silvia. The two are not mutually exclusive. An ART can easily combine leading indicators and key results. For example, an ART objective may be to ‘increase market share’ with the features delivered this PI. They might define leading indicators such as ‘achieve 1000 new registrations’ and ‘10% increase in partner referrals’ as key results.

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