Introduction to Agile Planning
Agile planning can be defined as a methodology that measures the speed of work through independent work teams termed as ‘Sprints’ or ‘Iterations’. Sprints are work tasks allocated to the teams lasting for a duration of 2-4 weeks. The role of Agile planning is to define and assign respective tasks to many such multiple sprints. It thus facilitates the learning process and helps the teams to determine attainable goals. Agile and Planning are like antonyms! Can planning and agile go together? It is often said that agile teams don’t really plan. However, as a whopping number of organizations have embraced agile practices, one of the key determiners of successful agile implementation happens to be its approach towards ‘planning’.
What are the Attributes of ‘Agile Planning’?
Given below are the attributes of agile planning:
- Typically, an Agile Plan Includes ‘Releases’ and ‘Sprints’: When a new product is launched or if a running product is upgraded, it is termed as ‘Release’ in Agile planning. Such defined releases are segregated into multiple sprints. Each sprint team is allocated pre-listed tasks to work upon to be completed within a duration of 2-4 weeks. These listed tasks are titled User stories.
- ‘User Stories’ – Blueprint for Planning: In Agile, User Stories are the needs enlisted by the users. The sprint team identifies strategies on how these specific requirements can be met in the best possible ways.
- Agile Planning is Repetitive and Progressive: The concept of Agile planning is repetitive. The sprint teams repeat the processes, which enable them to forecast how many user stories can be completed in a particular duration. It also anticipates any problems or issues that could be the cause of hurdles in the success of a project.
- Estimation is Exclusive of the Management: Fundamentally, agile planning is based on team participation. Unlike traditional project management, the tasks are not assigned by the management. The user stories are defined by the sprint team itself.
Understanding the ‘Agile Onion’
Unlike traditional project planning, Agile plans frequently and does not rely on comprehensive planning. There are six stages to Agile planning.
The Agile Onion, basically, denotes the six levels in planning:
- Strategy Planning Stage: At this stage, the organization designs and develops the route map on ways to attain the desired goals or objectives. It involves planning and execution of strategies to achieve the targeted results within a span of around 3 to 5 years.
- Portfolio Planning Stage: This stage involves developing a set of products that align with the strategic objectives of the organization.
- Product Planning Stage: At this stage, the product owner plans for the number of releases of a specific product. This product planning stage is in alignment with the portfolio stage.
- Release Planning Stage: At this stage of planning, the scrum teams work collaboratively on the decided scope of a product or the release date. Thus, it plans for the forthcoming release of a product and is in the thread to the product plan.
- Iteration Planning Stage: At this level, the teams are assigned with a different set of tasks to be executed from the release plan and are termed as ‘Sprint Planning’. Thus, it is in conjunction with the release stage of planning.
- Daily Planning Stage: As the name indicates, at this stage, the teams decide on the day-to-day tasks to be executed. Again, this stage is in alignment with the Iteration stage and enables the team to evaluate how closely they are to their targets and enables them to modify the plans if necessary.
Thus, the Agile Planning Onion is an effective way to summarize the different stages in planning and how each stage is in conjunction with the other. It gives a broader view of why certain decisions are made.
The following are types of Agile planning:
- Theme: It is a targeted goal that aims in bringing organizational change.
- User Stories: These are the needs or requisites defined by the product users.
- Backlog: This is a set of user stories and inoperable requisites that could be executed in the coming time.
- Backlog Refinement: As the name suggests, it is about upgrading user stories and eliminating the ones that are not of any relevance.
- Epics: Epics are a collection of multiple user stories. If these user stories are to be implemented, Epics are designed using product structure, designs, and route maps. Epics are a subset of Themes.
- Sprint Planning: Sprints are a list of tasks assigned to multiple teams for a certain duration. It consists of ‘Sprint goal’ and ‘sprint backlog’. Sprint goal consists of a goal statement that the sprint teams aim to attain. The sprint backlog is a set of user stories and inoperable requisites that are to be executed by the sprint teams. At this stage, the relevant set of work is identified, which is in alignment with the current objectives and resources of an organization.
- Release Planning: It includes planning for multiple sprints. Around 3-12 iterations are developed during release planning. It is also a basis to track the progress of the project.
The key notion of planning is all about prioritizing the essential tasks and being adaptive to change. It is all about teamwork and collaboration. Unlike waterfall project planning, in agile, the teams are responsible to choose features from the backlog and direct the project towards the targeted goal. In Agile, the plan is owned by the teams, and the team is solely responsible for meeting plan deadlines. As Agile is predominantly applied in the software sector, which can be upgraded progressively, it may not be applicable to the manufacturing sector, which requires huge planning as opposed to upgrades here and there.
This has been a guide to Agile Planning. Here we discussed the concept, attributes, understanding, and types of planning in Agile. You can also go through our other Suggested Articles to learn more –
- Agile Development Cycle
- Principles of Agile Project Management
- Agile Frameworks
- Agile Coach Interview Questions