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What is Agile Planning & Agile Planning Levels?

What is Agile Planning? Agile planning is focused on getting the answers to simple questions like - what is to be built, when will it be completed, how much will it cost and who should be involved etc. The project managers also explore hidden dependencies for various activities to minimize the idle time and optimize delivery period. Agile planning revolves around measuring the velocity and efficiency of an Agile team to assess when it can turn the user stories into processes, production-ready software, and quality product delivery. The ultimate goal of Agile planning is to have a clear picture of project vision, production roadmap with sprint schedule, and business interests. To simplify the things, Agile planning can be stipulated of different levels - product vision; product roadmap; release; iteration; daily commitment.  Level 1: Agile Planning For Product Vision – Five Tips:  Agile planning starts with product vision creation ensuring that strategies are aligned properly and the development team spends its time on creating the right valuable product. The product vision guides the team members for the shared goal like a lighthouse. The product vision statement tells about ‘how the product supports organization’s strategies.’ You can simplify the process of Agile product vision development by making it a four-step exercise – development, drafting, validation, finalizing. The following five tips will help you to get the most out of it:  Product vision should deliver the unique feel of ownership to keep you motivated.  Validate your product vision with all the stakeholders, Scrum team members, users etc. Develop the product vision iteratively & incrementally with the scope to make it better over time.  The product vision pitch should address all the key concerns of different stakeholder groups pertaining to quality, product goals, competition, longevity and maintenance needs etc.  Focus your product vision on the values for users and customers not merely on the most advanced technology.    Level 2: Agile Product Roadmap Planning– Five Tips:     An Agile product roadmap is a plan that describes the way the product is likely to grow; it also facilitates for learning to change. To succeed in Agile management, you need to have a goal-oriented roadmap as it provides crucial information about everyday work by the team. As a powerful Agile management tool, it helps to align all the stakeholders and to estimate sufficient budget for quality product development as per schedule. Creating effective roadmap is often a challenge because changes occur unexpectedly in an Agile environment; however, the following five tips will help you plan the most effective roadmap:  Do all the necessary prep work including describing & validating the product strategy. To know more about ‘Product strategy in the Agile world’, visit - https://svpg.com/product-strategy-in-an-agile-world/ .  Focus your product roadmap on goals, benefits, objectives, acquiring customers, removing technical debt and increasing engagement etc.  Let your product roadmap tell a coherent story about the likely development of a product. To simplify the task, you can divide the product roadmap into two parts- internal product roadmap and external roadmap. The internal product roadmap is focused on development, service, supporting groups, marketing, sales etc; while, the external roadmap is focused on prospective & existing customers.  Keep the product roadmap simple and realistic to make the features understood by everyone concerned.  Make your product roadmap measurable; so, think twice before adding timelines and deadlines.  Level 3: Release Planning – Five Tips:   In Agile landscape, the release is a set of product increments released to the customer. The release plan defines how much work your team will deliver by the mentioned deadline. Release planning is the collaborative task involving Scrum master (facilitates the meeting), Product owner (shares product backlog view), Agile team (provides insights into technical dependencies & feasibility) and Stakeholders (the trusted advisors). The following five tips will help you in effective release planning:  Focus on goals, benefits, and results.  Take dependencies and uncertainties into account. Release early but don't release just for the sake of scheduled releasing. Only release the work that is 'Done'. To know more about ‘Definition of Done (DoD)’ in Agile, plz visit -  https://www.knowledgehut.com/blog/agile-management/definition-of-done-use-in-agile-project .  Each release process has the scope for betterment. Continuous release process improvement helps you deliver more values for the product. 5 levels of #Agile planning ... and the DoD. #ProjectManagement #pmot https://t.co/qTalLiJS1S by John Goodpasture pic.twitter.com/dlWuMTnC8e — JoseAntonio Martinez (@MartinezBuenoJA) November 14, 2016 Level 4: Iteration Planning – Five Tips:   The iteration planning is done by holding a meeting, where all the team members determine the volume of backlog items they can commit to deliver during the next iteration. The commitment is made according to the team's velocity and iteration schedule. The following five tips will help you in effective iteration planning: Span the iteration planning meeting maximum up to 4 hours.  The planning meeting is organized by the team and for the team; so, everyone should participate.   Avoid committing anything that exceeds the historical team’s velocity. Keep time for ‘retrospectives’ in the past sprints before planning for the next one. To know more about ‘Agile retrospective’, visit - https://www.agilealliance.org/glossary/heartbeatretro/.   Follow the four principles – prepare, listen, respect & collaborate.  Level 5: Daily Commitment Planning– Five Tips:  Like many other planning activities for Agile management, the daily commitment planning also needs the synchronized partnership of teams. The daily planning meeting is focused on completing the top-priority features. The 15-minute standup meeting facilitates face-to-face communication on individual’s progress and impediments if any. The following five tips will help you in progress-oriented daily commitment planning:  Keep it around the task board.  Start on time regardless of who is present or not. Let each team member go through the questions like - what he did yesterday, what is his plan for today, and, is there any impediment?.  Use ‘Parking Lot’ for the unresolved issues. The purpose of daily Agile-Scrum planning is to let the team members know about ‘being done’, ‘needs to be done’ and ‘hindrance if any’. Anything out of this scope should be listed in ‘Parking Lot’ to be dealt later.  Do preparation ahead of time. The team members should know ‘what they need to share’.  Conclusion:  Agile planning levels are not time-consuming or complex; instead, these help product owners focus on the right group of professionals and the product development stage. The strategic Agile planning for different levels reduces considerable time, effort, and cost that is otherwise invested in repetition, correction, and last minute meetings etc. 
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What is Agile Planning & Agile Planning Levels?

309
What is Agile Planning & Agile Planning Levels?

What is Agile Planning?

Agile planning is focused on getting the answers to simple questions like - what is to be built, when will it be completed, how much will it cost and who should be involved etc. The project managers also explore hidden dependencies for various activities to minimize the idle time and optimize delivery period. Agile planning revolves around measuring the velocity and efficiency of an Agile team to assess when it can turn the user stories into processes, production-ready software, and quality product delivery. The ultimate goal of Agile planning is to have a clear picture of project vision, production roadmap with sprint schedule, and business interests. To simplify the things, Agile planning can be stipulated of different levels - product vision; product roadmap; release; iteration; daily commitment. 


Level 1: Agile Planning For Product Vision – Five Tips: 

Agile planning starts with product vision creation ensuring that strategies are aligned properly and the development team spends its time on creating the right valuable product. The product vision guides the team members for the shared goal like a lighthouse. The product vision statement tells about ‘how the product supports organization’s strategies.’ You can simplify the process of Agile product vision development by making it a four-step exercise – development, drafting, validation, finalizing. The following five tips will help you to get the most out of it: 

  • Product vision should deliver the unique feel of ownership to keep you motivated. 
  • Validate your product vision with all the stakeholders, Scrum team members, users etc.
  • Develop the product vision iteratively & incrementally with the scope to make it better over time. 
  • The product vision pitch should address all the key concerns of different stakeholder groups pertaining to quality, product goals, competition, longevity and maintenance needs etc. 
  • Focus your product vision on the values for users and customers not merely on the most advanced technology. 
     

Level 2: Agile Product Roadmap Planning– Five Tips:  
 

Agile Product Roadmap Planning

An Agile product roadmap is a plan that describes the way the product is likely to grow; it also facilitates for learning to change. To succeed in Agile management, you need to have a goal-oriented roadmap as it provides crucial information about everyday work by the team. As a powerful Agile management tool, it helps to align all the stakeholders and to estimate sufficient budget for quality product development as per schedule. Creating effective roadmap is often a challenge because changes occur unexpectedly in an Agile environment; however, the following five tips will help you plan the most effective roadmap: 

  1. Do all the necessary prep work including describing & validating the product strategy. To know more about ‘Product strategy in the Agile world’, visit - https://svpg.com/product-strategy-in-an-agile-world/ . 
  2. Focus your product roadmap on goals, benefits, objectives, acquiring customers, removing technical debt and increasing engagement etc. 
  3. Let your product roadmap tell a coherent story about the likely development of a product. To simplify the task, you can divide the product roadmap into two parts- internal product roadmap and external roadmap. The internal product roadmap is focused on development, service, supporting groups, marketing, sales etc; while, the external roadmap is focused on prospective & existing customers. 
  4. Keep the product roadmap simple and realistic to make the features understood by everyone concerned. 
  5. Make your product roadmap measurable; so, think twice before adding timelines and deadlines. 


Level 3: Release Planning – Five Tips:
 

In Agile landscape, the release is a set of product increments released to the customer. The release plan defines how much work your team will deliver by the mentioned deadline. Release planning is the collaborative task involving Scrum master (facilitates the meeting), Product owner (shares product backlog view), Agile team (provides insights into technical dependencies & feasibility) and Stakeholders (the trusted advisors). The following five tips will help you in effective release planning: 

  1. Focus on goals, benefits, and results. 
  2. Take dependencies and uncertainties into account.
  3. Release early but don't release just for the sake of scheduled releasing.
  4. Only release the work that is 'Done'. To know more about ‘Definition of Done (DoD)’ in Agile, plz visit -  https://www.knowledgehut.com/blog/agile-management/definition-of-done-use-in-agile-project
  5. Each release process has the scope for betterment. Continuous release process improvement helps you deliver more values for the product.


Level 4: Iteration Planning – Five Tips:
 

The iteration planning is done by holding a meeting, where all the team members determine the volume of backlog items they can commit to deliver during the next iteration. The commitment is made according to the team's velocity and iteration schedule. The following five tips will help you in effective iteration planning:

  1. Span the iteration planning meeting maximum up to 4 hours. 
  2. The planning meeting is organized by the team and for the team; so, everyone should participate.  
  3. Avoid committing anything that exceeds the historical team’s velocity.
  4. Keep time for ‘retrospectives’ in the past sprints before planning for the next one. To know more about ‘Agile retrospective’, visit - https://www.agilealliance.org/glossary/heartbeatretro/.  
  5. Follow the four principles – prepare, listen, respect & collaborate. 


Level 5: Daily Commitment Planning– Five Tips: 

Like many other planning activities for Agile management, the daily commitment planning also needs the synchronized partnership of teams. The daily planning meeting is focused on completing the top-priority features. The 15-minute standup meeting facilitates face-to-face communication on individual’s progress and impediments if any. The following five tips will help you in progress-oriented daily commitment planning: 

  1. Keep it around the task board. 
  2. Start on time regardless of who is present or not.
  3. Let each team member go through the questions like - what he did yesterday, what is his plan for today, and, is there any impediment?. 
  4. Use ‘Parking Lot’ for the unresolved issues. The purpose of daily Agile-Scrum planning is to let the team members know about ‘being done’, ‘needs to be done’ and ‘hindrance if any’. Anything out of this scope should be listed in ‘Parking Lot’ to be dealt later. 
  5. Do preparation ahead of time. The team members should know ‘what they need to share’. 

Daily Commitment Agile Planning

Conclusion: 

Agile planning levels are not time-consuming or complex; instead, these help product owners focus on the right group of professionals and the product development stage. The strategic Agile planning for different levels reduces considerable time, effort, and cost that is otherwise invested in repetition, correction, and last minute meetings etc. 

Shubhranshu

Shubhranshu Agarwal

Blog Author

Shubhranshu Agarwal is a technical writer with special interest in business management and project management subjects. Over the 15 years of freelance content writing, he has written a lot to help the industries, businesses and project managers to achieve the sustainable growth by implementing strategic critical management methodologies.
 

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Agile Scrum Roles And Responsibilities

Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, Kanban are different project management frameworks which are helping the companies to increase the productivity. These frameworks were created by the IT companies and especially web and application development companies because they needed a path but on which each and every employee can perform his daily tasks. However, out of these four frameworks, the Scrum is the most widely used framework in all the companies despite their nature of work. That is why in this article we are going to discuss the Scrum in detail to give you a better idea about this iterative framework which is making easier for the companies to complete their project. Scrum Objective: The basic objective of the Scrum is to keep the entire team on the same page throughout the project. The scrum framework allows the cross-functional work of the team of 4 to 10 members to provide the regular details and information sharing liberty so they can produce the best result. Scrum is a more like philosophical than the technical. It is a framework that can only be used as the guidance and there is no constant in it. All the success of the Scrum depends on the interactions among the stakeholders as it does the process. Scrum roles and responsibilities: The techniques of Scrum has become very popular and now considered to be the most important thing to do before starting any project. That is why the demand of the scrum masters and other professions related to the scrum has also increased, and people now are searching about the term scrum more. The scrum is a very specific and précised framework that is why it comprised on the following roles. Scrum Master Product Owner Scrum Team Stakeholders Because the term Agile is often get associated with the project managers that is why many people believe that the Scrum Master is also a term for the project managers. However, the Scrum Master serves very different purposes than the project manager. The Scrum Master works as a facilitator rather than the authoritative person who is responsible for the project delivery. The Scrum Master is a coach, motivator and problem solver who can only assist the team by using all his experience of Scrum framework. According to many Scrum Masters, applying Scrum within an organization is not the actual scrum process. You have to make the organization to accept your new role and then change its culture which is the most difficult thing to do in any company. The prominent role of every Scrum Master should be to enhance the power of the team by committing them to the sprint goals without any interference from the management. Let’s discuss the major roles of all the above points separately. Scrum Master: The Scrum Master is considered to be the top-dog in every organization because companies usually hire them and don’t treat them as permanent employ that is why they are with no authority. It is their duty to remove all the hindrance or obstruction in the way of achieving any goal. It is also their role to enforce scrum ceremonies and processes. They are the ones who commit to goals and deadlines on behalf of the team. Product Owner: The product owner is responsible for conveying the vision of the stakeholders to the team. They have the authority to alter the scope. The Product Owners are responsible for the return on investment (ROI) that is why they occupy an authoritative position in the firm. Because they convey the vision of the stakeholders that is why they are the voice of the stakeholders. Not only with the team, but they also communicate with the stakeholders about progress and problems. Scrum Team: The Scrum Team is responsible for all the activities that lead them towards their sprint goals. They have to work with the Scrum Master to prioritize the items from the product backlog in the sprint planning. Once committed, it is their responsibility to fulfil the commitment and deliver the agreed results on time with great quality. The Scrum Master is not responsible for keeping his team organized that is they it is the duty of the Scrum Team to get self-organized. They have to be agile in the office and have to attend every standup and other ceremonies. They have to participate in all the meetings despite their nature and have to ensure that all the findings of the meetings are getting practically addressed in the project. Stakeholders: The Stakeholder has to keep a healthy relationship with the Product Owner in order to share every detail regarding his project. The Stakeholder is responsible for conveying his wishes and concerns to the product owner or else the product owner would not be responsible for his project quality and time duration. The Stakeholder has to provide regular input to queries from the Product Owner. Prioritizing the work affectively with the Product Owner is another job that the Stakeholder has to do to ensure his project development. Keep taking updates or keep giving updates regarding any change in the plans.
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Water-Scrum-Fall: Is it a Myth or Reality?

Usage of Agile Methods for software Development has caught on like wildfire. Every organization wants to follow Agile methods for software development projects to gain all or some of the following advantages. Faster Software Delivery Continuous Customer Feedback and Optimization Improved Software Quality Improved Communication with Users and Business Sponsors Accommodation for Continuous Changes Early Return on Investment  Continuous Visibility on Features Being Developed Optimized Risks Though usage of Agile Methodology has caught on, software development organizations have implemented Agile methods as per their own convenience and suitability by tweaking existing waterfall processes. Hence the term Water-Scrum-Fall.  Through this article, I will take a look at how Agile methodology is adopted in software development organizations and what modifications are made to the pure Agile processes to suit the adopting organizations to get optimum benefit. I will explore the topic through existing literature and my own experience of working in the IT industry. Software development organizations adopt Agile methodologies based on various factors. Some of the factors are listed below. Benefit from the method and maintain leadership position Pressure from competition Risk of losing out on the latest methods and trends Client Demand Internal cost pressures, Agile methods might be a win-win solution Some organizations embark on the journey to adopt Agile methods by following the classical and complete method of adoption. The stages of adoption followed by these organizations are shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 – Stages of Agile Methodology Adoption As can be seen from Figure 1, the standard process of adoption starts at pre-adoption phase with inception and goes all the way thru Execute-Deliver, gaining Insights along the way by learning about measures, data and feelings. Organizations learn through the process during initial iterations for pilot projects. The learnings are applied to future iterations of the process and process matures. Organizations continuously perform analysis of return on investment and perceived gains from Agile method adoption. This helps them to make any changes to adoption method to optimize the gains.  Agile transformation methods and experience gained through Agile methodology adoption is very well depicted through the following Youtube Videos-     So far, the discussion in this article focussed on the traditional way of Agile methodology adoption. Does every software development organization use the standard Agile methodology for the full lifecycle of software development? Do organizations invest in required training and infrastructure to implement Agile for the complete software development lifecycle?  A look at the industry trends reveals that some organizations use an approach with a combination of waterfall and Agile methodologies.  These organizations take baby steps in Agile methodologies adoption. The Agile methodology is tweaked as per the need of the adopting software development organization. Figure 2 shows the model of pure waterfall process adopted by a software development organization. Figure 2 – Steps of pure Waterfall Model Steps indicated in Figure 2 are executed in sequence to execute a software development project and achieve the desired business objective.  As per the adaptation practised by a software development organization, certain steps of the waterfall cycle are implemented using the Agile method. The adaptation is solely dependent on the organization and how it sees the process change fit for the project under execution.  Figure 3 shows the adaptation of standard Agile methodology as modified for an organization in the financial industry for a development project for a Large Retail Bank. The adoption was necessitated by this particular project where design and build activities were to be iterated based on changing requirements. The approach allowed necessary flexibility to implement varied design approaches and pass them quickly to build phase to avoid large-scale changes once the complete design was done. Some part of testing activities were also iterated, however, most of the testing followed waterfall methodology as unit testing was covered along with build activity. Unit testing done in an iterative manner helped generate stable delivery of code from build phase to the testing phase thereby allowing the project to maintain waterfall approach for testing and resulted in a very few testing defects. Figure 3 – Water-Scrum-Fall used for project in Large Bank   Another aspect of Agile is how it is perceived by persons performing various roles. Developers and Testers have most work during the middle phase of the project. Independent studies have proven that developers and testers are very quick to adopt new practices. Developers and Testers are also very keen to adopt Agile practices. Primary reason could be that Agile practices provide them with more opportunities to collaborate. This could be one of the primary reasons for the success of Water-Scrum-Fall. 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