Pi Planning in Agile is a collaborative event that brings together all members of an Agile team to plan and prioritize work for the upcoming Program Increment (PI). It ensures that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals, fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration among the team members.
Agile methodologies have taken the software development world by storm, transforming the way teams approach their work. However, as organizations grow, it becomes increasingly challenging to coordinate the efforts of multiple agile teams working on different parts of the same project.
This is where Program Increment (PI) Planning comes in, a technique originated by the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to help teams work together towards a shared goal. It is a critical event in the Agile process and essential for success in large-scale software development projects.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what PI Planning is, why it’s important, how to prepare for it, and the common challenges teams face.
What is PI Planning?
PI Planning is an event in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) that brings together multiple Agile teams to coordinate their work for a specific Program Increment. It aims to ensure that teams align their work towards a common goal, identify and resolve cross-team dependencies, and create a plan that can be executed confidently.
PI Planning typically takes place over two days and involves all Agile Release Train (ART) members, including team members, stakeholders, and management.
During the event, teams review the project’s current state, set goals for the following PI, and plan the features and stories to develop. The output of PI Planning is a set of objectives, a plan for the next PI, and a draft roadmap for future PIs.
The Importance of PI Planning
PI Planning is critical for successful agile project management in large organizations for several reasons:
- Aligns teams: PI Planning aligns multiple Agile teams towards a common goal, ensuring everyone is working towards the same objectives. This helps to reduce waste, eliminate duplication of effort, and avoid conflicts.
- Identifies dependencies: PI Planning helps teams identify and resolve cross-team dependencies, reducing the risk of delays and miscommunication.
- Improve UX Guidance: By providing UX guidance to teams, it helps them understand customer expectations, identify areas for refinement, and devise methods to deliver a better user experience.
- Ensures predictability: It provides teams with a clear understanding of what they need to do to achieve their objectives. This helps to ensure that teams can deliver on their commitments and that stakeholders have a clear view of what to expect.
- Enhances collaboration: PI Planning provides an opportunity for teams to collaborate and share knowledge, which can improve the quality of the work produced.
- Increases efficiency: By providing a clear plan and objectives for the next PI, PI Planning helps teams work more efficiently, reducing the time and resources required to complete the work.
Preparation for PI Planning
Before diving into the PI Planning session, several things need to be done to ensure the event runs smoothly. First and foremost, all team members should be aware of the agenda and clearly understand what is expected of them. This can be done by scheduling pre-PI Planning events where team members can discuss what they hope to achieve during the PI Planning session and iron out any potential issues.
Preparing a physical or digital board for the event is also essential. This will help keep everyone on the same page and will make it easier to visualise dependencies and progress during the event. It’s also a good idea to ensure that all team members can access any necessary tools, such as Jira or other project management software.
Another important step is to ensure that the event is facilitated correctly. A Scrum Master or Release Train Engineer should be designated to guide the team through the event and keep everyone on track. It’s also a good idea to establish ground rules and norms for the event to ensure everyone works collaboratively and efficiently.
Steps of PI Planning
The PI Planning event is typically broken down into several steps, each of which has a specific purpose:
On Day 1 of PI Planning, senior executives and business owners present the current state of affairs, focusing on customer needs and how existing products address them.
Then, product management teams give a vision for their product or solution by discussing changes since the last session and upcoming milestones, with special attention to the next 10 features.
On the second day of PI Planning, teams break out into smaller groups to make adjustments and plan their objectives, which are then presented to and accepted by business owners. P
Program risks are identified and addressed, a confidence vote is conducted, and plans are reworked until a high level of confidence is reached.
Finally, teams review their iteration plans and discuss events like the daily stand-ups (DSUs).
What Happens During the PI Planning Session
Below are some of the key activities that happen during PI Planning, as well as the benefits they provide:
- Establishing the PI Objectives – The team should work together to identify the objectives for the upcoming Program Increment. These objectives should align with the company’s overall vision and should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
- Identifying Dependencies – The team should identify any dependencies between different teams, systems, or components. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page and prevent any potential roadblocks or delays.
- Breaking Down the Work – Next, the team should work together to break down the work that needs to be done into manageable chunks. This can be done through brainstorming sessions or by using tools such as story mapping or affinity grouping.
- Planning the Iterations – Once the work has been broken down, the team should work together to plan out the individual iterations that will make up the Program Increment. This should include identifying the work that needs to be done, assigning tasks to team members, and estimating the time required for each task.
- Identifying Risks – During this step, the team should identify any potential risks that could impact the success of the Program Increment. This could include issues such as resource constraints, technology challenges, or external factors such as market changes.
- Holding the Confidence Vote – At the end of the planning session, the team should hold a confidence vote to determine whether or not they feel confident in their ability to achieve the objectives set out for the Program Increment. This will indicate if any adjustments need to be made.
- Reviewing the Events Calendar – Finally, the team should review their events calendar and determine when the daily stand-ups and Iteration Planning Meetings will be held. This will help ensure that everyone is aware of the timing and location of each.
PI Planning is an essential component of the Scaled Agile Framework and is a critical tool for organizations looking to achieve business agility.
By bringing together cross-functional teams and aligning them with the company’s overall vision, PI Planning can help ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal and that progress is being made in a coordinated and efficient manner.
While PI Planning can be challenging, especially in a remote or distributed environment, it is highly crucial for the Agile project management process.
By following the steps outlined above and planning the Program Increment properly, organizations can ensure that their product development efforts are well-directed and productive.