Virtual PI Planning

Amidst the increasing number of confirmed Coronavirus cases, several organizations are mandating their colleagues to work from home. In such times, Release Train Engineers (RTEs) and Scrum Masters (SM) are searching for creative ways to execute virtual PI planning. This article provides valuable insights into conducting the event effectively. With this post, you will also understand different options available readily to you for creating an online Program Board. Below is the list of activities that an RTE must consider when conducting a virtual PI planning.

 

 

  • Primary WebEx details should be shared with everyone prior to the event. This WebEx room must be open during the entire event and will act as the common forum to ask questions and collaborate across teams as needed.

 

  • WebEx details for additional/secondary rooms should also be published prior to the event. These WebEx rooms are required to facilitate team breakouts. There should be a separate WebEx room for each team.

 

  • Ensure that the primary and secondary WebEx rooms are different.

 

  • If you are sharing your screen during a WebEx meeting, it is often challenging to take notes. Thus, I recommend that you designate scribes for managing parking lot items, capturing risks or dependencies, etc.

 

  • Pre-PI planning Preparation: The more the preparation prior to the PI planning event, the better or smoother the virtual event will go. Here are a few things to remember:

 

    • Ensure that prioritized product features are created and refined at least 3 weeks prior to PI planning.

 

    • Bring team break-outs forward. During the breakout sessions, teams estimate their capacity for each iteration, identify risks and dependencies, refine user stories, and create their draft plan for each iteration. All these activities can be planned prior to the PI planning event. As a result, during PI planning, the time needed for team breakouts will be reduced.

Please Note: For the pre-PI planning preparation to be successful, Scrum Masters must plan team capacity for these activities.

 

  • Next is to set-up a virtual Program Board. Based on my research, there are multiple options available to you:

 

    • Use Miro: You can use the free version without any issues. However, if this is not an approved product within your organization, you may not be able to leverage this product. I recommend that you consult with your leaders before going ahead with this option.

 

    • Check out other similar products available in the market. For Example: Mural, piplanning app, etc.

 

    • If you use Rally, JIRA, or any other agile management tool to track features/user stories, you may explore if there’s a custom board/view available within the tool itself. This will minimize your post-PI planning effort to manually migrate team dependencies, risks, and milestones into the tool.

 

    • Use Confluence. You can build a custom view using the Gliffy Diagram and build the Program Board on Confluence. You can also share the confluence link ahead of time so teams can leverage the same during team breakouts.

 

Check out my published books on Agile and Lean:

 

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207 Comments

  1. Nice article and very useful.

    We just ran a PI planning remotely with 300+ people using sharepoint and a tool called Big Agile (www.bigagile.io)

    Not so much fun as face to face but the outputs were just as good!

  2. Thank you for this great insight, very useful in this challenging period.

    May I suggest Draft.io as another relevant tool for virtual PI Planning? It’s a collaborative blackboard that provides an ideal balance between freedom and structure. It’s perfect for building agile artifacts like Program Boards as well as running remote collaborative sessions.

    Hope it helps!

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