What is PI Planning?Since there are so many geographically and functionally dispersed teams whose work is interconnected, every successful company starts small and grows to size. It is crucial to comprehend and plan for these interdependencies to ensure that each team's efforts are directed toward a single, project-specific objective. This objective is far simpler if you have PI planning in place.
Without identifying the terminology surrounding it, describing PI planning is challenging. Before we begin, let’s take note of the following.
1. Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®)In developing lean-agile software, the SAFe® kind of organization is employed. Its guidelines aim to increase the agility of large teams and organizations so they can produce high-quality products quickly.
2. Agile Release Train (ART)The ART is a collection of many Agile teams that work together to create and deliver certain solutions. The train typically has 50 to 125 people working together to create and implement particular solutions.
3. Program Increment (PI)A time for solution planning, development, testing, and feedback. This period of time typically lasts 4 to 8 weeks. The ART will finish the following four tasks in this time frame:
- Plan: This is where PI planning comes in.
- Do: Execute the PI plan.
- Check: Check the solution with a system demo.
- Adjust: Inspect and adapt.
Essential Elements of PI PlanningA particular set of guidelines is used for PI planning, just like the LEAN approach. The following are the key components of PI planning:
- It examines the company's existing position and the effectiveness of its solutions in satisfying consumer needs.
- The system architect is encouraged to view the concept from an engineering standpoint.
- It creates a draft plan review containing capacity, objectives, dependencies, and hazards.
- Each risk is addressed, and each team is accountable for identifying blockers.
- Prioritizing the planned features for the increment is a task for product managers.
- User story planning and estimation belong to the development teams.
- The planning is validated by engineering and UX teams.
Importance of PI PlanningLet us understand why exactly PI Planning is important.
Builds Team TrustBuilding a strong foundation of trust can be beneficial when dealing with so many different interdisciplinary teams in the Agile Release Train. The main person is responsible for implementing, installing, and publicly releasing the specific hardware or software that makes up the ART. Frequent interaction can help create trust between teams quickly and effectively because PI planning in Agile sessions requires in-person meetings.
Enhances UX guidanceAgile is an iterative development methodology; therefore, your teams may envision and create the ideal User Experience (UX) and architecture by integrating regular PI planning meetings.
Complete Tasks FasterAny team can produce faster if they have the required tools. Hardware, software, and firmware that are integral to ARTs' interdisciplinarity and core competencies allow them to quickly create, execute, implement, iterate, and deliver the right solutions.
Quick Decision-MakingCreating continual value for end users and incorporating systems thinking into all of an ART's tasks are typical SAFe® principles that are applied to all ARTs. ART teams can use PI planning to iterate and make decisions more quickly by producing and delivering value to the end user from ideation to execution in a cross-functional environment.
Benefits of PI PlanningPI planning delivers many business benefits, some of which can be discussed as follows:
- Establishing direct communication between all team members and interested parties
- Creating the social network that is necessary for ART
- Aligning team and program PI goals with the company context, vision, and development goals
- Recognizing interdependence and encouraging collaboration between teams and ARTs
- Allowing for "just the appropriate amount" of architecture and Lean User Experience (UX) direction
- Balancing demand with available capacity and getting rid of extra work in progress (WIP)
What to Include in a PI Planning Agenda?PI planning may look different for every Agile team, but many elements are common. Many Agile teams take time to consider their prior PI planning activities or to conduct virtual ice-breaking activities that can assist the ART team members to feel more at ease. Although many other actions, including the five crucial ones listed below, can help your PI planning teams succeed with Agile teamwork.
Set up Overall VisionStarting with a specific objective is always beneficial. Ensure to highlight lessons learned from your most recent PI planning sessions and establish Agile project goals, objectives, and milestones that the team can work toward.
Define the Business ContextA company not tailored to its particular target market is not likely to succeed. Ensure the company strategy and goals are properly connected with the actual end-user needs and market dynamics to embrace Agile's pace and capitalize on its potential for teamwork.
Outline the RTE ProcessDefine the entire PI planning activity, describe how it operates, and unambiguously identify the aims and objectives of undertaking it in the first place. This is an essential component of every program increment planning. To help the teams advance, the Release Train Engineer (RTE) is entrusted with defining the PI process using practical templates and answering all their questions.
Host Group BreakoutsTeams examine their backlogs to decide how to accomplish the predetermined features in their overall product development vision and share their delivery speeds for iteration possibilities. Each team recognizes dependencies, potential risks, and any situations where inter-ART communication may be necessary for better decision-making.
Evaluate Draft and Program RisksTeams present their initial plans during the time-boxed draught evaluation meeting in order to get input from product owners and other important stakeholders. Engaging in this feedback activity assists in identifying and resolving any potential concerns prior to the final management assessment. A thorough roadmap outlining the activities needed to resolve any difficulties is produced once risks and dependencies are assessed for potential problems.
The Goal of PI PlanningThe Scaled Agile Methodology, a framework created to introduce agile to large organizations with numerous teams, is incomplete without PI Planning. Agile Release Train (ART) teams can synchronize, cooperate, and coordinate workflows, goals, releases, and other issues with the aid of SAFe® PI Planning. On the other hand, teams lack structured communication without PI Planning.
They might not be aware of the projects the other teams are working on, which can lead to many issues. For instance, two teams may work on distinct features without realizing they depend on one another. This could delay the release or necessitate a substantial rewrite of the code. Therefore, PI Planning aims to facilitate cross-team collaboration and strategically align your teams to prevent these potential issues.
Tips for Distributed Teams and Remote PI PlanningYou must consider holding a remote PI Planning session if your teams cannot conduct quarterly face-to-face PI Planning. Don't worry; it's possible and perfect for businesses with scattered teams or flexible work schedules. Anyone may participate in PI Planning if they have the necessary equipment and technology, whether they are in the same room as you or across the globe. Here are some suggestions to make it work:
Co-locateCo-locate teams as much as possible to avoid having everyone connect from their faraway locations. The leadership and adjacent teams might be housed in the main headquarters, and scattered staff could be flown to the closest remote location. Everyone still benefits in some manner from face-to-face interaction in this way.
Embrace the CloudUse online shared planning tools to enable your team to view and participate with information as soon as possible—possibly even in real-time. Cross dependencies can be more easily mapped by ensuring that everyone has rapid access to the information and by avoiding the need to store it in more than ten separate locations.
Livestream the EventFace-to-face communication is ideal, but when that isn't possible, live streaming voice and video from the event and attendees are the next best thing.
You must therefore encourage any scattered or remote personnel to use their cameras and microphones while at the event. Though it falls short of being in the same room as them, it comes close.
SAFe® PI PlanningThe most effective framework for implementing agile across the company is SAFe®. At the scaled level of agile, where several teams collaborate to work on the same products, goals, and outcomes, SAFe® is attempting to fill a need. Companies that would otherwise continue to operate traditionally can start shifting in a more agile direction — thanks to SAFe®.
This is where PI Planning comes in. SAFe®'s PI Planning is an essential component. The ceremony gathers representatives from each team to facilitate collaboration, identify dependencies, and create a strategy for the upcoming Program Increment. As a result, all the teams are more visible, changes are made more frequently, and teams cooperate rather than compete with one another.
From there, these enormous businesses may streamline their operations, perform their tasks more effectively, compete with newer, more agile businesses, and continue to exist. PI Planning and SAFe® are effective tools for fostering organizational agility. Additionally, although SAFe® is a framework for larger organizations, smaller businesses can still implement PI Planning.
Scrum Master Role in PI PlanningScrum is an agile methodology that aids in team productivity. It allows teams to schedule and arrange their own work while completing user stories and tasks within shorter time frames. Multiple scrum teams may adopt a variation of PI Planning if they want to collaborate more effectively (but aren't necessarily using SAFe®).
The Scrum Master's role in PI Planning is creating a draught PI plan for iterations, authoring PI Objectives, and identifying program risks and concerns. Additionally, they support the team in setting up their physical or digital planning spaces by offering visual radiators that foster communication and cooperation. The good news is that there isn't a "one size fits all" approach to PI Planning, so you can consider adapting the concepts and guiding principles to suit your company's needs.
PI Planning vs. Sprint Planning. What’s the difference?It is quite simple: PI Planning occurs between teams. Sprint Planning, on the other hand, is a collaborative activity. Sprints are a part of PI Planning. Therefore, the scale and hierarchy are the key differences. Sprints are also created for a single Sprint. The goal of PI Planning, on the other hand, which is carried out over the course of four Sprints every 8 to 12 weeks, is to gain an understanding of the business value.
What is Post-PI Planning?After all of the ARTs have finished their PI Planning for the following increment, post-PI Planning takes place. They offer milestones and anticipated deadlines and present the plans together with their goals and objectives. Post-PI Planning utilizes a planning board, similar to PI Planning events. Still, instead of outlining features, it does so by outlining capabilities, dependencies, and milestones for each iteration and ART.
Potential problems and hazards are noted, discussed, and then either accepted, resolved, or mitigated. Similar to standard PI Planning meetings, plans are revised until the attendees average three fingers or more and then put to the first-of-five vote of confidence to ensure they satisfy the objectives of the solution.