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How to model Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) in JIRA?

We have multiple Agile Release Trains, but are just trying to use JIRA for Essential SAFe at this stage for each Train.  Does each train become their own project?  

Then each project will have its own Program level backlog (Jira Epic/SAFe feature)?  

How to give visibility to executives?  Can each project provide summary at higher level?  We tried Portfolio but it was too confusing.  Would Structure be a better choice?  

Looking for any guidance.  Thank you

6 answers

Hi Nancy,

My name is Phil, full disclosure; I'm a solutions engineer at ALM Works (we make Structure for Jira) and am also SPC certified.

We've seen our customers implement Essential SAFe in a few different ways, their journey to scaling agile in their organization is very dependent on where their organization already is and more specifically, depends on how their Jira was already set up.

We don't recommend each ART to be given their own project, though you could do it that way. A good resource to look at would be this Atlassian blog post about Scaling Agile.  It has a lot of useful suggestions and in true agile fashion you can take what works for you and leave what doesn't.

The resource you've found gives a few more good ideas on how to move forward, but some of their Structure-related content is a bit outdated. So if you would like to try Structure for your visualization needs, I'd be happy to go over the more salient features and discuss any implementation questions you may have.

As to your question about visibility for executives, we've noticed whatever fits in your existing workflow is usually best. If you work a lot in Confluence, then it would be best to have your reporting go through Confluence. If you prefer Gantt charts, you can create those and share them live or exported to emails. There are a large number of possibilities!

Hope that helps!


In looking at related content, I have found this helpful "how to" guide and we may give this a try!  Thank you! 


others can probably give better advice regarding how to set up Jira, but if you like visualized plans and program boards, take a look at Dependency Map for Jira, which, among other things, can be used to show and manage the program board (yes, I work at FindOut who develops the  app).

Hello Nancy,

What you ask for is perfectly doable in BigPicture.

ad Does each train become their own project? 

Yes, you could map a BigPicture ART to a Jira project, but you could as well map that ART to some other query result, such as all Jira tasks whose id begins with 'ART-1' or ones that bear the 'ART-5' label, etc.

ad each project will have its own Program level backlog (Jira Epic/SAFe feature)?

Again there can be an ART-level backlog in BigPicture that doesn't necessarily correspond to a Jira project backlog.

ad How to give visibility to executives? Can each project provide summary at higher level?

For the visibility to executives, use the Overview module. See screen capture. Instead of PROG-1, PROG-2, PROG-3, imagine ART-1, ART-2, ART-3 - this is a sample view.

All the answers apply to BigPicture version 8. I represent the BP maker.

<cf other post - accidentally published the answer twice >

Hello Nancy,

You can use Ativo Programs for Jira, a solution to plan and execute SAFe® program in Jira®.

Ativo Programs supports multiple release trains. Each train has its own Jira project, which contains the features (epics). Example PI board:


Each team in the train can have its own Jira project or share Jira project between teams. Multiple configurations are possible, although it is advised that each team has its own project, so they can have their own workflow.


Ativo Programs has a consolidation at train level, that can be showed to higher level management. It shows a global burn-up of the train, pie charts with feature and dependency completion, completion per feature, etc.


See also this blog post on how to implement SAFe in Jira using Ativo Programs :

With kind regards,


Edwin Rozie

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