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The importance of measuring flow in SAFe

The Scaled Agile Framework or also called: SAFe is the most popular Agile method used by 70% of Fortune 500 companies to scale software development. While SAFe is an excellent roadmap to connect technical agility with business agility, in order to truly impact the way we work, DevOps and business outcomes must be measured against shared goals and business outcomes.

Providing context to the work while tracking velocity, efficiency, and improvement will help all teams working on related projects get out of their silos and become truly agile.

In this article, we’ll explain several metrics of the flow framework that illustrate the importance of measuring flow.

SAFe 5.1 — The Flow Framework

In its fifth iteration, SAFe added a flow-based system, emphasizing the importance of measuring flow via a comprehensive Flow Framework. You can identify the flow of work in value streams and where it is causing bottlenecks, so Product Owners can mitigate those issues.

The Flow Frameworks provides 6 flow metrics to address critical DevOp concerns like overload, interruptions, and delays due to scope creep. It helps measure organizational efficiency while delivering value to customers.


The 6 metrics of how to measure your flow

  • Flow Velocity calculates whether value delivery is increasing by measuring the number of backlog items completed over a particular period. 

Higher velocity equals higher output and is an excellent indicator of process improvements being applied to provide value to customers.

  • Measuring Flow Distribution ensures all product value streams have a dynamic mix of flow items like features, defects, risks, and debts to maintain flow velocity and deliver current and new value to customers.

  • Flow Time is an indicator of speed and predictability. But instead of a developer-centric measure of time, this metric is customer-centric. 

Flow Time tracks the amount of time it takes for work to be completed once it enters the value stream. Analyzing this data enables you to forecast and improve your time-to-market, customer relations, and retention and support the company’s inaccurate financial planning.


  • Flow Load measures the number of active flow items currently in development. This metric helps teams limit the number of active items to enable a fast flow of value, improving flow time and flow velocity.


  • Flow Efficiency indicates the amount of flow time spent in value-addition work versus waiting between steps. It helps identify waste and delays that decrease flow velocity.


  • Flow Predictability measures how well ART teams and Solution Trains plan their Program Increment (PI) objectives by comparing the planned business value to actually delivered business value.

Low or inconsistent predictability identifies underlying technical, planning, or organizational barriers and helps address them. Measuring predictability enables teams to manage expectations with technology and business about how much they can deliver and when. 

The importance of measuring flow in SAFe

The 6 metrics of the Flow Framework have shown the importance of measuring progress in SAFe. Time tracking and reporting apps allow teams to log time for Jira issues and projects, which can be utilized to get an overview of tracked time, forecast workload, and manage capacity.

Product Owners can gain detailed insights into team capacity, understand overload, and other issues that affect flow time, velocity, and efficiency. 

These custom reports help measure different aspects of flow, identify roadblocks, and continuously improve business performance by delivering more value to customers.

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