Role of Product Manager in SAFe

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Jan 22, 2023

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Product Managers should have the ability to multitask effectively. They should be able to swiftly switch the work ambience when needed as for one instance they would have to evaluate the ideas of the customer and next provide a roadmap to the executive leadership. One should always be ready to adapt to the work environment.

One of the most important things is to understand the framework, no matter if the teammates are following Extreme Programming, scrum or lean in order to lead the team towards development. The Product Manager is supposed to always be adaptive to the situations and realize the product vision and keep everything and everyone together.

By the end of this blog, you will get an idea of how to suit up for success. This guide focuses more on the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) approach for development.

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Where does Product Management fit in SAFe?

The first query which should arise is how will the work turn out if practised under SAFe environment conditions. Organizing batches of work and the teams responsible for their delivery is the key to understanding product management in a SAFe environment. The SAFe configuration has four levels: team, portfolio, program, and value stream. The product management functions at the program level. When the product managers reach these different levels, they can proceed with the plan and work in a coordinated way.

Working with different levels yields different outcomes:

  • Teams

In SAFe, the teams of Agile deliver the working software iteratively and incrementally based on agile methodologies like scrum and kanban. An Agile Release Train is a cluster of agile teams that follow the same agile methodology.

  • Programs

Programs coordinate how cross-functional ARTs carry out their work by zooming out from teams by one level. This is not surprising since the program level aligns business strategy with product development. It is a portfolio that is all delivered in program increments. The best thing is that they have a common vision for the products.

  • Portfolios

The portfolio level is just a step above the program level. At this level, organizations set their business strategy for multiple products, including how to fund and govern the portfolio as well as how to define a portfolio vision and set strategic objectives and portfolio backlog.

  • Value streams

An optional level for the bigger organizations to build effective solutions over various ARTs. Each stage of the value stream accounts for all the actions needed to fulfil the value of the product It's all about the journey of the product from the initial concept to the final delivery.

The product managers are responsible to make sure that the queries of the customer are looked after. An agile team develops user stories based on the program backlog and then implements these stories within an iteration based on the priorities identified in the program backlog.

Product Management and SAFe core values

The product managers are supposed to make sure that each and every work is done for the customer and that their requirements are always taken care of to the last detail. They are the leader of the product team so they can reinstate the SAFe values within the organization. If one thinks that the values are just practices then they are wrong, these are the very key foundations of SAFe.

These are the four core values of SAFe and how a product manager supports it.

1. Alignment

In order to score perfectly with the team some qualities are necessary: progress, goals, and dedication to the work. These are necessary when working in a large enterprise. There are some people who love to do things their way. They self-organize and carry the plans their way. Their secret to success is transparency, communication and the shared vision with their teams.

This proves that it's not necessary to follow the alignment from top to bottom. Product Managers encourage the process by maintaining the backlogs of the product, and roadmaps, and also ensure keep the stakeholders in the loop.

2. Built-in quality

In order to create efficient, reliable software development, it is important to ensure high-quality deliverables at every stage. By validating each segment of system architecture and line of code early on in the development process, you will be able to reduce the need for tedious rework later on. The project managers are responsible for facilitating cross-functional coordination between the teams and also establishing the “Continous Everything” approach to delivery and deployment in collaboration with the Developer team.

3. Transparency

The high production standards and speed of SAFe teams rely on the high level of transparency at every level. The key role of product managers is to create a perfect environment of trust where people can accept their mistakes and learn from the situation. Everyone should also be able to access the workflow documentation, all these will help to catch the bugs early and maintain the efficiency and workflow in the organization.

4. Program execution

SAFe is ultimately about delivering quality products and meeting business objectives by incorporating agile principles within enterprise organizations. The first three qualities are a must for the successful execution of the program. The product managers play the most essential role i.e. keeping everyone together by valuing them and working towards the same goal.

Also, Read Product Manager VS Product Owner

What are the key Responsibilities of Product Managers within SAFe?

Product managers are bestowed with countless perks and responsibilities. In SAFe environments, there are countless teams working on various projects over complex issues. The only difference the product managers have is the scale of the work present at hand.

Product Manager ResponsibilityDescription
Promote a shared visionThe vision should ensure that the overall product solution and each of the ARTs reflect customer and business needs, as well as align with the organization’s strategic themes.
Understand customer and business needsThe product managers are meant to take care of the customer in every way possible from noting the problems to delivering the right solutions to them. Various research and practices should be done before confronting the customers. The product managers also have to work with the business stakeholders to stay updated on the changes if required.
Build and maintain product roadmapsNew programs are to be made and roadmaps are to be released constantly on the basis of delivery milestones. These are to be shared with the organization to be in sync.
Maintain workflow board and program backlogAlways keep the backlog updated. Features are designed in the SAFe program in a Kanban board. This can be taken one step further by using the “Weighted Shortest Job First” (WSJF) to measure the economic impact of each feature.
Lead program increment (PI) planningProject Managers present the program’s backlog’s prioritized features, roadmap etc. Based on the team member’s capacity, dependencies, and technical knowledge the project managers should review what needs to be accomplished.
Validate featuresDemos are run by the product managers and owners at every iteration within the PI to collect feedback from the Primary stakeholders and also to measure progress against the PI objectives.


Which Roles do Product Managers work with?

The successful implementation of the SAFe is cross-functional collaboration. The given table explains some of the situations of product managers.

Business ownersProduct Managers assist the business owners in ensuring that Pls deliver the right business outcomes. Business owners are accountable for the ROI and governance of ART solutions.
CustomersWhether internal or external, customers are the one who buys your products and services so it is the product manager’s role to engage with the customer to improve the services.
Product ownersEvery agile team has a product owner who solely works at the team level. The product owner acts as a proxy to the customers and pays attention to their queries of the customer.
Release train engineers(RTE)For the entire release process RTE are the Chief Scrum Masters. The RTE are responsible for the PI value and other values of the product.
Solution ManagersThe solution managers are essential when building large-scale solutions. They help the solution architect and trainer deliver capabilities by managing the backlog.
System architects and engineersEngineers and architects support the technical enablement of ARTs by creating a shared vision for ARTs and aligning teams around it.


By changing the conditions of the market, the needs of the customer, and emerging technologies, SAFe enables large enterprises to build better software.

Managing products is essential to delivering the product to customers and driving the business forward. Product managers guide the team through what is called teamwork.

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In Conclusion

Overall, the Product Manager in SAFe is a key role that is responsible for defining and delivering a product or solution that meets the needs of the customer and the business. Professionals with SAFe Agile Training work closely with the development team, stakeholders, and customers to understand their needs, define the product vision and strategy, and ensure that the product is delivered on time and within budget.

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