Step by Step Guide on Agile Planning

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16th Nov, 2022
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11th May, 2018
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Step by Step Guide on Agile Planning

Planning to fail is planning to fail. This quote encapsulates the significance of planning in project management. As much as we despise static time frames in this dynamic world, they are a fact of life for many organizations, and we cannot ignore their significance. 

This article will cover an Agile overview of project management and processes so you can apply them to your workflows.

What is Agile Planning?

Agile planning is a project management method that is done step-by-step and progressively. Instead of beginning with a detailed plan that is typically product-related, Agile allows for required changes throughout the project and relies on regular feedback from end customers. 

Agile planning's ultimate goal is to have a clear image of the project vision, production roadmap with agility schedule, and business interests. The following planning characteristics should be mentioned to understand what the agile planning process entails fully:

  • The first step is the release. It is something the Agile team works on. 
  • The release plan is divided into sprints, each specifying a specific set of tasks to be accomplished. 
  • Such tasks are known as user stories. 
  • You then create a plan based on these user stories describing the end-user's requirements.  
  • The team then collaborates to identify the best approach to address these user stories.

The sprint is the foundation of agile planning. All the  Agile sprints have the same duration and are repeated until a working feature gets rolled out for the end user. Because of the iterative nature of a sprint, a group will be able to determine effectively how long user stories will take over time.

What are the Essential Agile Components?

1. User Stories

A user story is merely high-level terminology for work requests. It comprises plenty of details for the team to generate a realistic time frame to complete the job. This brief, straightforward description is crafted from the customer’s perspective and stresses what the client is asking for (their objectives) and why.

2. Sprints

Sprints are short iterations of one to three weeks in which teams work on activities determined at the sprint planning session. As you progress, the goal is to keep repeating these sprints until your product is feature-complete. After the sprint, you’re responsible for checking and seeing what is and isn't working, fabricating changes, and starting different sprints to improve the product. 

3. Stand-up Meetings

Daily stand-up meetings, also called "daily Scrum meetings," are an excellent way to keep everyone on track and notified. These daily communications are known as "stand up" meetings because attendees must remain to stand, which helps keep meetings brief and to the point.

4. Agile Board

An Agile board keeps your team updated on the status of your project. A whiteboard with sticky notes or a basic Kanban board can serve this purpose.

5. Backlog

When project requests are added via your intake system, they become outstanding stories in your backlog. Your team will assign story points to each task through Agile planning sessions. Stories from the backlog are moved into the sprint for completion. In an Agile environment, project managers must manage their backlog.

Step by Step Guide to the Agile Planning Process

Agile project management strives for faster development cycles and more frequent product releases than the waterfall method for project management. Small time frames enable project teams to respond more effectively to customers’ requirements. 

As previously stated, you can use a variety of Agile frameworks, the most common of which are Scrum and Kanban. However, every Agile planning follows a similar basic process, including the following steps:

1. Project Planning

Before beginning projects, your group must know the ultimate result, the value to the organization or client, and the process to accomplish the same. 

An individual can develop project scopes here, but it should never be ignored that the motive of using Agile project planning is to mandate quick resolutions of amendment of the project, so the project scope should not be deemed unchangeable.

2. Product Roadmap Creation

Individuals must document their workflows visually for team accountability, better understandability, and to recognize and eliminate constraints.

3. Release Planning

Conventional waterfall management includes only one deadline given when a complete project gets developed. However, Agile allows your project to have many small development cycles (known as sprints) with features produced at the end of every cycle.

Develop a high-level plan for feature releases before releasing the project, which should be revised and (if needed) before every sprint.

4. Sprint Planning

Before each sprint starts, stakeholders must retain a sprint planning session to establish what each person will work on during that sprint, how it will be achieved, and assess the task load. The workload should be allocated evenly among the team members for better results.

You'll also have to visually document your workflow to ensure team transparency, shared understanding, and identifying and removing bottlenecks.

5. Daily Stand-Up

Conduct daily meetings to assist your team in completing their work before the sprint ends and discuss any possible modifications. During these meetings, each team member will give a brief overview of what they completed the previous day and what they plan to work on the following day. 

To keep these meetings brief, some teams will hold them standing up. These daily stand-ups shouldn’t last longer than 15 minutes. They are not intended to be lengthy problem-solving conferences.

6. Sprint Review and Retrospection

Following the completion of each sprint, one’s team will conduct two meet-ups: the first will be a sprint review, including project participants, to show them the result. A face-to-face or video meeting will enable both parties to establish a rapport and discuss potential product issues. This is an essential part of maintaining open communication with stakeholders. 

Second, you'll hold a sprint observational meeting, including the stakeholders, to talk about everything that happened during the sprint, what can be changed, and what was accomplished. 

You shouldn't ignore this significant meeting if you’re unfamiliar with Agile project management. Using it, you can determine the most effective sprint length for the next projects and the total task a team can cover in each sprint.

Agile Planning Template

The agile planning template makes the deliverable and its review more predictable. Moreover, it serves as a container for the outcomes of your sprint plan meetup. The team gets a sense of the bigger picture: they may discuss any new developments that may affect the sprint, the time frame, verify the team's potential, and whatnot.

1. Agile Kanban Boards

Agile sprint planning begins in the Kanban board view. While scrum teams are likely to prefer the board view, others on your project team may prefer a more traditional sprint planning and tracking approach.

2. Developers' Task Lists

The development team may prefer to use another project view, such as a list view. All their work is visible to them in one place, including the priority and proportion of the task completed. They can even make their to-do list to effectively manage the work assigned to them in the agile sprint plan.

3. Gantt Charts for Tracking improvement

The stakeholders often prefer to see the Gantt chart. In addition to showing who sprints are often used with waterfall and other traditional methodologies. You can add columns on the Gantt timeline or switch to a sheet view.

Conclusion

Agile planning is a new, flexible approach to organizing future projects and adapting to changing needs without generating waste. Agile planning levels are not time-consuming or complicated; rather, they assist product owners in focusing on the right group of professionals and the stage of product development. Strategic Agile planning at various levels saves time, effort, and money that would otherwise be spent on repetition, correction, and last-minute meetings, among other things. Checkout the KnowledgeHut Agile Overview for more information and agile certifications.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the 5 levels of agile planning?

Originally described by Hubert Smits in his whitepaper, the following are the five levels of agile planning: 

  • Vision 
  • Roadmap 
  • Release 
  • Iteration 
  • Daily Stand Up

2. Why is agile planning important?

A key benefit of agile planning is that it provides insight into risks built into the project. As soon as the team comprehends the potential risks, it is easy to eliminate and prevent them.

3. What is the Agile lifecycle model?

As a product moves from beginning to end, it goes through a structured series of stages called the agile software development life cycle. The six stages are concept, inception, iteration, release, maintenance, and retirement. 

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