PI Planning is a significant event in Scaled Agile Framework®. It requires preparation and facilitation to align development with business goals and match the demand with capacity.
Unfortunately, too many organisations rush into PI Planning without the necessary readiness and do not realise the full benefits of PI planning. In this blog post, we share a checklist for you to use and take your PI planning to the next level.
Are you Ready?
Scaled Agile Framework breaks down the readiness for PI planning into these three main areas and will share a checklist for each.
Organisational readiness - are we aligned on the priority item(s)?
Content readiness - are the features defined and aligned with the priority?
Facilities readiness - the space, connectivity, social event and catering organised?
You need to be able to answer yes to the following questions.
Have you defined the Epic hypothesis and the leading indicators? - What is the problem we are trying to solve, and for whom
How does this align with our strategic objectives? - Are we working on the right problem?
Are we aligned on priority LPM, Product Management, and business owners agree on the priority?
Have you defined the MVP epic and the leading and lagging indicators? - What is the minimum work needed to invalidate our hypothesis?
Are our teams organised for value delivery? Do we have dedicated cross-functional teams aligned to the value stream?
Here is an example of an objective aligned with the strategic theme: Europe's top payment processor.
One of the objectives aligned with the strategic theme is to accept cryptocurrency, and we can see three key results to achieve the objective and example epics.
Building on the above example, let's define the Epic MVP; what is the minimal product that enables us to invalidate or validate our hypothesis?
Starting with the Epic Hypothesis that we formed aligned with the strategic themes, and in this example, we use Objectives and Key Results goal setting to achieve our desired outcomes. and because the outcome is a hypothesis, we define the Epic MVP and the feature needed to deliver the Epic MVP. Once the Epic MVP is delivered, we know if the desired outcomes are achievable and can decide if further investment is justified or not.
Is the space ready? Physical or online shared collaboration space, breakout rooms.
Refreshments, evening social event.
Team spaces allocated
Do we have the communications audio-visual communication tested and functioning?
In an in-person setting, we are all in the same space when we need to speak with the rTE, Product manager or any other team member we can walk across and speak with them. It is through this collaboration that we achieve the emergent design.
In a virtual setting, we need to replicate this ability and ensure the following are available to the ART.
Team audio-visual connectivity
Broadcast messaging to the ART
Team members can move from one team to another
RTE communication channel, team members can reach the RTE as required
Product Manager communication channel, team members can reach the product manager on demand
Architect communication channel, team members can reach the architect(s) on demand.
A shared services channel, team members can reach shared service teams, for example, UX on demand.
The objective of the PI planning is for the teams to collaborate in the PI planning on how they will deliver the business outcomes. The purpose is to have coarse grain work items planned in iterations with a capacity margin in each iteration to allow the fine grain details to emerge as part of each iteration. It is not to create a fixed detailed iteration by iteration plan that we will deliver against.
Insufficient readiness leads to the Agile Release Train working on low-value items because they are easy to pick to keep the ART busy.
Misaligned work with the strategic organisational aims leads to ART busyness without delivering business results.
The lack of readiness typically manifests as the work planned to change during the PI. Although we welcome changes to planned work when the more valuable piece is needed when the PI plans keep regularly evolving, this may signal a lack of readiness.
Product management ensures that valuable work aligned with business priorities flows through the ART.
Our SAFe Quickstart ART launch is a great way to ensure the above readiness activities, training and coaching for your Agile Release Trains. Learn more.
Thanks to Krishna Kumar Chinnappachari for reviewing and improving.