February 19, 2021
Scaled Agile Framework has this to say about the essence of PI Planning – “there is no magic in SAFe….except maybe for PI Planning.”
Getting started with Agile in an enterprise that involves multiple Agile teams can be a daunting task. The right way to get started is with PI Planning or Program Increment Planning. These are scheduled time-boxed cadence-based planning events that become the focal point of Agile Release Train or ART. These events are held across the year and require all teams with similar ARTs to meet, discuss and plan the way.
In SAFe, PI planning is one of the most critical aspects. As long as SAFe Agile PI planning is being done meticulously, things can be on track; however, if PI is not happening, it is not SAFe. It is because PI Planning is the foundation of the Scaled Agile Framework.
Objectives of Scaled Agile Framework PI Planning
The goal of PI Planning is:
Critical aspects of SAFe Agile PI planning
PI Planning is critically vital for large teams or bigger organizations. Take the case of a large enterprise with hundreds of Agile teams working in different offices, remote and in-office. In such cases, there are thousands of developers working on multiple projects. In the traditional waterfall system, there is hardly any chance that the teams interact with each other – most of them would have never communicated with the other teams or would have done only in case of an emergency. In most cases, it would only be the teams’ senior managerial levels that would have spoken to each other during emergencies. In such cases, the leaders typically pass on the information down till it reaches the lowest levels. The Developers, however, would have hardly spoken to one another. One key challenge of such a team would be conflict in budgets, resource allocation, issues, and more.
In a Scaled Agile Framework, PI Planning enables and facilitates teams to speak to one another and discuss or strategize. Three essential aspects of SAFe Program Increment planning:
Three vital things that such a planned PI initiates are:
Critical characteristics of SAFe Agile PI planning
Benefits of SAFe Program Increment planning:
PI Planning is an integral part of SAFe because of the following benefits:
SAFe Agile PI planning tips:
PI Planning inputs:
The business context, Program backlog, vision, and plan are the inputs.
PI Planning outputs:
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals and objectives of the team and the program are PI Planning outputs. The Program Board with the delivery schedule, Milestones, and cross-team dependable features are highlighted.
Having understood that PI Planning is critically important, it is vital to know how to go about the entire process. It is essential to do it the right way so that teams and enterprises can benefit optimally from the activity. Here are the tips to carry out SAFe Agile PI planning for the best results.
Preparing for PI Planning
Some of the things that the Program Board display include at the time of PI Planning:
Challenges faced by remote teams during SAFe Agile PI planning
Since face-to-face communication is the most critical aspect of the Agile Manifesto, it is essential to keep remote teams involved and focused during PI Planning. It is important to use powerful video conferencing apps during the meeting and the breakout session. Remote members need to ensure that their computers, network, Wi-Fi, and camera work properly and effectively.
The roles that are involved in SAFe Agile PI planning
These five roles have an essential part in PI Planning:
SAFe Agile PI planning is essential, but not always does it go the intended way. RTEs need to ensure that the sessions are not long and tedious, that the technology set-up is strong and robust, and does not fail midway. They need to ensure that qualitative feedback is shared. It is essential to stick to the accepted framework and use the right tools for optimized output.
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