Agile Release Planning: Building on SAFe and OST
One goal of release planning is to ensure dependencies among teams are identified, common issues are addressed and people are committed within teams and among teams.
One team using Scrum release planning consists of keeping a prioritized backlog, tracking the team velocity. When up to 3 or 4 teams are working on related backlogs, comparing and coordinating backlogs are effective.
Somewhere around 4 to 5 teams working on related backlogs, a more structured approach such as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Program Increment (PI) planning provided a structured framework to coordinate among teams. SAFe PI planning facilitates conversations and coordination across teams. However, product owners are not necessarily interested in architecture updates. Also, conversations between two teams may apply to more than two teams if only the other teams.
Open Space Technology (OST) provides a facilitation framework where participants generate the agenda on the fly. Generating the agenda with all participants ensures that topics that the meeting organizers were not aware of are discussed among relevant team members. A public agenda ensures that all interested enough to attend the breakout sessions have a say in the program direction. Proceedings ensure that all have access to what was discussed, and provide guidance of who to talk to after planning about the subjects with questions. However, OST by itself does not ensure a release plan will come out of the meeting.
The best release planning sessions I have held so far combine SAFe PI planning structure with OST. Combining the techniques was an immediate improvement over using only SAFe PI planning. The planning session came out with sprint goals, identified dependencies and proceedings from breakout sessions. This session will point out what has and has not worked so far, identify areas for improvement, and is a call for experiences beyond my own using this technique.
Outline/structure of the Session
- Scrum Release Planning
- Backlogs, Velocity, Scrum, Scrumban and Kanban
- Rolling Wave Planning
- SAFe Release Planning
- Program Increment
- Program Backlog
- Planning Meeting Structure
- Open Space Technology (OST) Overview
- Participants generate the agenda
- Four Principles and One Law
- Breaking News
- Release Planning Combining SAFe and OST
- New Release Planning Combining SAFe and OST
- Lessons Learned So Far
- Next Steps
- Areas for improvement and research
- Help with SAFe
- Help (or just reassurance) about OST
- Call for lessons learned
- Overview of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Program Increment planning
- Overview of Open Space Technology (OST)
- Overview of how to combine SAFe and OST for release planning
- Contributions by attendees
People on Agile Teams Involved With Release Planning and Coach / Facilitators