There is a common misconception that Agile methodologies denounce planning. Planning is not absent but done in a more pragmatic way when compared to traditional waterfall projects. Let’s see how in this post.
Plan vs Planning
The focus in a traditional project is to create project plans. Lot of effort goes into creating a “perfect possible” plan. Once such a plan is created, even more effort goes into ensuring that the project progress is aligned with the plan. More often there are deviations and artificial efforts are made to bring the project back on track.
In Agile, the focus is on the planning activity and not on creating plans Click To Tweet
In contrast, Agile considers planning as a continuous activity. The focus is on planning and not making or sticking to a project plan.
There are two main planning activities performed over the life cycle of an Agile project.
At the onset, planning is performed considering the delivery of value from project – with the more valuable features delivered upfront. Naturally, limited details are available to make an elaborate plan.
The purpose of a release plan is to present a tentative roadmap of the project to stakeholders like Sales & Marketing, Support etc. to plan their own activities. Product Owners play a key role by maximizing value delivery with the release progress.
A release is made up of multiple iterations. The objective of each iteration is to deliver a set of completed features that can be tested, demonstrated and potentially used by the end users.
At the start of every iteration, the Agile team together with the Product Owner, performs the iteration planning. The purpose of this exercise is to consider the delivery capacity of the team and accordingly develop and deliver the high value features of the product.
Iteration planning is more accurate than the release planning because the high value features in question are normally well defined and understood by the development team.
Features of a Good Agile Plan
Though the Project Plan is not a key deliverable in an Agile Project, here are some key characteristics:
- Avoids very fine details like Start and End Date. Rather presents the plan in reasonable time ranges
- Doesn’t warrant a regular comparison of actual vs planned progress – but good enough to indicate any major deviation very early
- Focus on delivery of value rather than completion of planned activities
- Easy to change without a lot of overhead, because planning in Agile is continuous and the plan is susceptible to changes
- Agile methodologies don’t denounce planning
- Planning in Agile is continous and the focus is on the activity rather than delivering a static project plan
- Planning is performed in two stages – Release and Iteration – the latter being more accurate
- A good Agile Plan avoid fine details, focus on value delivery, easy to change and indicate major deviations very early
How much planning you do in your Agile Projects? We would love to hear your thoughts…