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What is Agile Planning? First lets look at what planning is. Planning is an essential part of being human. We Plan for something that we either desire or anticipate to occur in the future. There are lots of forms of Plans. Budgeting is a Plan where we Estimate how much cash we are going to need. Buying insurance coverage is Planning to reduce the costs of an event occurring to our vehicle or house.

For Complex scenarios, such as Developing a Product, there are so numerous variables that go into getting to an end Product. The Product must be something that a person requires. The Project Plan shows who or what is required, and when and just how much it will cost. A Project Manager does not wake up in the early morning and ask HR to immediately find him a data researcher. They knew long ago that they needed individuals and should have built a recruiting/hiring activity into their Plans.

The Science of Planning

Planning is as much an art as a science. We have a set of Goals and Objectives we want to attain by a certain Time. We also know our current scenario. Our Plan will consider whatever is needed to reach those Goals,. This plan needs to take into account dependencies, Lead Times and expenses. The knowledgeable Planner will build in some “Fat”, such as extra Time. Being overoptimistic and not catering for glitches and Roadblocks can lead to problems. Scenario Planning is a system used to forecast numerous possible results. It helps us determine what we should carry out in each case, where the worst case, best case, middle, and more than likely circumstance are anticipated.

A Project Plan is a covenant between the Customer and the Product Developers. It provides clarity of what will be Delivered when, and how much it will cost. It improves the self-confidence level in the Project. The Customer can identify what the portion complete the Project is to date. Note that the Project completion portion is not the very same thing as the Product completion percentage.

Traditional Planning – the Predictive Plan

One of the main skills of any Project Manager is Project Planning. This is followed up by monitoring progress on and compliance to the Plan. In Traditional Project Planning, the Scope of the Project is fixed right at the outset. This can lead to problems. The Project Manager builds his Plan based on the understanding that there will be little or no Change to the Scope. Another problem with Predictive Planning is that a Project can be completed within Time and budget, but the Deliverable is not what the Customer expected or wants.

Do you Need Planning in Agile?

There are lots of people, particularly in Software Development, who have a strong dislike of Documentation and Planning. This does not mean that they do not carry out these Tasks, they simply do not enjoy them. The Agile Manifesto has a few things to answer when it comes to Planning and Documentation. This is due to the often misinterpreted Agile value:-.

” We Have Come To Value:.
” Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation” and.
” Responding To Change Instead Of Following A Plan”.

Too frequently these Values are cited as an Opportunity to ignore Documentation and Project Planning. This is not what was intended by the Manifesto. A great Agile Project has at least as much Planning, if not more than, a Traditional Project. The only distinction is that the Planning for an Agile Project is Adaptive, instead of Predictive.

Our Favourite Agile Books

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

Agile Project Planning – The Adaptive Plan.

The Fundamental Concept in Agile Planning is that the Plan will be subject to Change. It is pointless to spend hours Planning the minutest detail, especially toward the beginning of the Project where Scope is often not understood. Planning is done Continuously and is Adapted as the Scope and Content of the Project Change. Precision in Planning is only required for the current Iteration (or Sprint), later Iterations are drafted, but will Change.

Planning in Scrum.

A Scrum Project has substantial Planning built into the Framework. This planning starts with the Initiation Phase, where the Project Vision, which specifies the Goals and Objectives, is produced. The Scrum Team (Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team) is chosen and the Requirements are Documented as Epics. An initial Estimation of the Risk and Complexity of each Epic is Done. The Epics are then Prioritized by Highest Risk initially in the Product Backlog. Enough information about the Product is now known to do the long-range Planning in the Release Planning Meeting. This is where the timing and frequency of releases is determined in addition to selection of the Sprint length. Apart from the preparation of Epics, the entire of Initiation Phase is dedicated to Planning.

The Sprint, which is Scrum’s Iteration, always starts with a Sprint Planning Meeting. The end date for the Sprint was defined during Initiation, so the Sprint is Time-Boxed.

The fastest Planning session, is the Daily Standup Meeting. During this 15-minute Meeting, each Development Team member explains what Work they Plan to finish before the next Standup.

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There are few Traditional Projects that have a Daily Project Planning session like the Standup – it is more usual for a weekly Meeting. Other flavours of Agile also pay a lot of attention to Planning as a Collaborative Effort.

We hope that we have actually broken the misconception about Planning in Agile. Agile Scrum Projects are far less chaotic than Traditional Project Managers view them to be. In reality, practices such as Time-Boxing and frequent and early releases provide discipline to Agile Projects.

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