Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: Succeed with Your Agile Planning Playbook
Although many people know that agile planning is different from big, up-front detailed planning done for traditional or waterfall projects, there are many misconceptions, or vague or partial understandings. Some people equate agile planning with minimal planning or just-in-time planning or “fluid” or “adaptive” planning. “Winging” an agile plan is expensive and doesn’t work well. If you don’t plan or plan poorly, no amount of execution effort would adequately compensate for poor agile planning. Agile planning is disciplined and rigorous, and the planning process itself is agile.
I will present a customizable Agile Planning Framework based on a core set of agile planning principles and practices, common to all organizations. The framework consists of four well-aligned agile planning levels, each driven by four steps, covering 16 agile planning practices (hence called “4x4 Agile Planning Framework”). Each agile planning level guides the next lower level of planning, which elaborates the planning done at the higher level but with a shorter time horizon. Planning retains its agility with periodic adjustments based on the feedback from the plan execution and changes in environment (market conditions, customer feedback, competitive responses, etc.).
- Product Vision and Strategy planning, with planning horizon of one to three years, and business initiatives or strategic themes serving as the planning unit taking several months to complete. This is the top level of planning.
- Release planning, with planning horizon of 2 to 6 months, and features that fit in a release cycle serving as the planning unit.
- Sprint planning, with planning horizon of 2 to 4 weeks, and stories that fit in a sprint serving as the planning unit
- Daily planning and Daily Scrums, with planning horizon of one work day, with tasks that fit a single work day as the planning unit. This is the bottom level of planning
At each planning level the following four steps are required:
- Select the planning method appropriate to your needs.
- Obtain required inputs appropriate for the selected planning method, and do necessary preparation ahead of the planning sessions.
- Apply the selected planning method and develop the necessary planning artifacts to drive the execution at that level, and guide the planning at the next lower level.
- Re-plan periodically to improve agility.
I will explain how to use Red Ocean and Blue Ocean Strategy frameworks, and how to harness the Lean Startup Strategy framework at Level 1 Agile Planning (Product Vision and Strategy).
VersionOne’s 9th Annual State of Agile Survey has indicated that the consistent process and practices is the top tip for success in agile. No two organizations are alike. No cookie-cutter approach to agile planning will work in a vast variety of situations. Context matters greatly. I will explain how Agile Champions can use the 4x4 Agile Planning Framework to develop customized Agile Planning Playbook appropriate to their organization, and how the resulting Playbook facilitates agile planning done by Agile Planners and plan execution by Agile Team Members in a standard and consistent way across an enterprise or at least across a set of projects or teams in a program or a portfolio.
Outline/Structure of the Talk
I will first present the customizable 4x4 Agile Panning Framework, its four planning levels, and four steps driving each planning level:
I will then present a brief overview of 16 planning practices. Some example of these practices are:
- For Product Vision and Strategy Planning, select and apply either Blue Ocean or Red Ocean strategic planning or some other custom strategic planning framework. If the degree of uncertainty about real customers and their needs is very high, you may start with the Lean Startup method.
- For Release Planning, apply either Fixed Time/Flex Scope (Velocity or Capacity-based) method, or Fixed Scope/Flex Time (Velocity or Capacity-based) method
- Visually monitor workflow at each planning level and also monitor alignment across planning levels using appropriately designed Kanban boards (epic boards, story boards or task boards)
- Re-plan periodically at a frequency appropriate at each level in response to execution feedback and changes in environment to improve agility
I will explain how to do planning at each level with modest effort by Agile Planners (typically 5% or less) and minimize waste.
Finally I will present how to customize the 4x4 Agile Planning Framework to develop an Agile Planning Playbook that is well-integrated with your Agile Lifecycle Management (ALM) platform. Agile Planning Playbooks implemented as an “out-of-band” solutions (such as Wiki or SharePoint or some document management system) remain less effective as they are not connected to your ALM platform.
As a concrete example, I will briefly demonstrate an Agile Planning Playbook implemented using VersionOne ALM platform, and its Communities, Templates, Reporting and Customization capabilities. Please note that the 4x4 Agile Planning Framework and Agile Planning Playbook derived from the Framework are independent of VersionOne ALM platform or any other ALM platform.
Learn different roles in agile planning: Agile Champion, Agile Planner and Agile Team Member. If you expect to play one or more of these roles, you will learn how to be more effective in those roles.
Understand how to do agile planning at each level, align those plans across levels, and keep the planning process itself agile.
Learn how to customize the 4x4 Agile Planning Framework to your own situation to develop your Agile Planning Playbook.
Understand how to do agile re-planning to improve planning agility, and improve your agile planning process on an ongoing basis based on actual experience and inputs from the environment
Understand how to integrate agile planning at the Daily Planning level with Daily Scrums (Stand-ups).
Understand how to identify and then eliminate or minimize waste at each level of agile planning process.
ScrumMasters, Product Owners, Agile Team Leads, Project/Program managers
schedule Submitted 3 years ago
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About me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomasfriend
Thanks for taking the time to consider my proposal.
Tom Friend / Agile Consultant / LtCol USAF (Ret)
CSP, ACP, AHF, FLEX, CSM, PSM, ATP
Talk: (980) 939-3477