Planning is Agile

Planning is not just Scrum. It’s not only for Waterfall projects. Planning is Agile. Many believe that there is little – to no – planning when going ‘Agile’. Indeed, there is. There is a lot. Agile planning is critical. As we work on very short iterations, we need to know exactly what we are going to do for the next weeks. Therefore planning is, let’s say, mandatory.

Theory (in practice even more) says that 20% of the working time should be dedicated to planning.
– Wow! That’s one full day per week.
– Well, it doesn’t work that way. Agile planning is an ongoing activity instead of a one-time event at the beginning of the development cycle. There are 5 levels of agile planning:

  • Product Vision
  • Product Roadmap
  • Release planning
  • Iteration planning
  • Daily planning

The first one is the broadest picture that the product owner may have of the future. How the product should look like at a high level. Product Backlog should be built on Epics. When the idea is clearer, Epics can be divided into user stories. This is the second level of planning and it can be done in a backlog grooming or refinement session.

When a release is done at the same time that an iteration ends, we can combine both planning sessions. If not, it’s better to have a planning to define what will be released and more planning sessions to define what will be covered during each iteration. Besides, it’s a great idea to split this level of planning into two parts: product and technical. Therefore, planning at a release/iteration level can be first done by explaining the details of the user stories and next, understanding the technical tasks required to build the release.

And last but not least, daily planning is a daily 15 minutes stand up meeting where the team establish a plan for the day. It’s not about reporting to PO or solve problems, it’s for planning once again.

So, are you planning enough?

Antonio González


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