PI Planning Event

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Program Increment (PI) planning is a cadence-based, face-to-face planning event that serves as the heartbeat of the Agile Release Train, aligning all the teams on the ART to a common goal.1

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Related Mindset:

Lean-Agile

Segment:

Program

Inputs:

The input for the PI Planning Event is the roadmap, vision, top ten features from the program backlog, and any other key business context.

Outputs:

The output of the PI Planning Event is PI Objectives for each team, the program board, and a vote of confidence on the commitments.

The organization in its ideal digital state will synchronize planning across teams at a regular cadence.

The Program Increment (PI) Planning Event is a construct of the Scaled Agile Framework®. Planning is conducted at the Agile Release Train (ART) level:

The Agile Release Train (ART) is a long-lived team-of-Agile-teams, which along with other stakeholders, develops and delivers solutions incrementally, using a series of xed iterations within a program increment timebox. The ART aligns teams to a common business and technology mission.1

Within this construct, planning is done per Program Increment (PI):

A Program Increment (PI) is a timebox in which Agile Release Trains deliver incremental value in the form of working, tested software and systems. PIs are typically eight to twelve weeks long, and the most common pattern for a PI is four development iterations, followed by one Innovation and Planning iteration.1

The planning session is defined as:

Program Increment (PI) planning is a cadence-based, face-to-face planning event that serves as the heartbeat of the Agile Release Train, aligning all the teams on the ART to a common goal.1

For more information on how PI Planning works within the Scaled Agile Framework® for an ART, review the following abstracts:

Common Pitfalls

Even in organizations that perform regular program-level planning, there can be problems that can occur during the planning event.

They typically fall into three categories:

  • Organizational readiness: Are stakeholders and business owners aligned on strategy and priority? Are Agile teams in place? Are teams organized around a value stream? Are critical roles assigned?
  • Content readiness: Has the current business context been defined, and are all stakeholders in alignment? Have the top ten features in the backlog been identified and agreed upon? Has the architecture vision been prepared by the CTO or System Architect?
  • Facility readiness: Has a large enough space been secured for the event? Is the facilities or tech support team involved in the process to ensure the event runs smoothly? Have communication channels been set up for remote teams?

Tools

There are multiple tools to help ensure a successful PI Planning Event.

At Universal Mind, we recommend considering the following when planning your event:

  • Event space: This should be a face-to-face event, potentially for upwards of 100 people. Since most companies don’t have a single space to accommodate this many people, you may need to look to rent event space.
  • Program board: The program board should be visually organized, an easy way to see at a glance the features, dates, dependencies and milestones. The board itself can be anything from a large piece of paper or whiteboard at the front of the room with the teams utilizing color coded sticky notes or it could come in the form of a digital solution like the Program Board from AgileCraft or a JIRA board using JIRA Portfolio.
  • Food: In order to keep momentum going and avoid people leaving the planning event when they get hungry, make sure to have meals and snacks on hand to keep everyone productive.

References

  • Scaled Agile Inc., SAFe® 4.0 Glossary, Licensed Usage.