At Invillia, every Wednesday at noon, we stop for an hour to nourish ourselves with the tips, how-tos, good practices and trends selected by our specialists in Product, Agile, Back and Front, Mobile, Quality, Security and Data. A vital exchange of experiences for those who love the new. And essential for innovation to never stop. If technology is in the blood. We make sure to keep it circulating more and more_
IN THE VEIN_ Accelerating the construction of the right product_
In today’s article, we share the main lessons learned from the enriching edition on PI Planning and Lean Inception, presented by Paula Saldones, our expert on the subject.
Program Increment (PI) Planning – what is it?
PI Planning is a cadence-based, remote or face-to-face meeting that synchronizes the “heartbeat” of the parts that make up the Agile Release Train (ART). Aligning all teams on a common mission and vision and being essential to the SAFe (Scaled agile framework).
It usually lasts for two days and the objective is to map dependencies, identify risks and promote a single language among teams to know how their work connects. More than anything, it promotes collaboration for successful innovation journeys.
Planning is of fundamental importance, and should consider:
- Preparation – context alignment, strategic vision, tactical vision (program)
- Disclosure to managers
- Locality (remote?)
- Participants (who and how many?)
- Definition of participating squads (grouping of teams by program and/or tribes)
- Facilitators (ART Engineer, Agile Coach, Scrum Masters)
- Information sources and backlog managers (POs)
The first day:
- Opening or introduction – with executives, managers and different teams
- Business Context – how we are today, future goals, strategic and tactical vision
- Architecture – vision, non-functional requirements, new technologies
- Team Breakouts – division of teams for the discussion of features, having a facilitator and a mediator who goes through each one
- Creating/reviewing and organizing stories and raising risks and problems
- Management Review and Problem Solving – brings everyone back together, with risks and problems being addressed to managers and escalated on the spot to find a solution
Here is an example of a Team Breakout using Miro:
And an example of a Draft Plan Review, a big picture of what is being planned:
The second day:
- Planning Adjustments – adjustments to the plan after the presentation
- Business Context – How we are today, future goals, strategic and tactical vision
- Program Risks – view of risks at the program level
- Vote of confidence – made by each person and never influenced
- Final version of the plan and PI retrospective
- Sprint start date planning (synchronization between teams)
Example of a final Board Program:
Lean Inception – what is it?
Lean Inception is the name given to the collaborative meeting to align a group of people on the minimum viable product to be built. It includes a series of techniques aimed at combining the doable, the valuable, the usable and the WOW factor to build the right digital product.
While PI Planning refers to high-level alignment on a large scale, Lean Inception comes down to the team level that is developing the product. The aim is to promote their involvement, engagement and responsibility. Validating the hypothesis, testing the product and helping with what is most critical in agility: fail fast. Identify any problems early and avoid waste.
Paulo Caroli is the great driver of the practicality of this concept, managing to transform what would last four weeks into just one – hence “Lean” Inception. Coming to the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) vision from a sequence of activities to align and define objectives, strategies and product scope (templates for download):
Lean Inception – the recipe
As in PI Planning, preparation is essential and this checklist must be ensured before starting:
- Clarified schedule
- Selected and invited participants (stakeholders and active members)
- Experienced facilitator
- Available and prepared environments (all with the necessary access)
- Templates for the various activities
Kickoff and Showcase have the presence of all participants (Dev/Infra/PO/Negocio/UX) plus sponsors, to get a vision of the product.
The combination between them
Lean Inception and PI Planning have different purposes, but blending them and leveraging the best of each brings great value to innovation journeys:
- Invite all teams to a PI Planning for alignments of initiatives (high-level backlog), dependencies and risks. Each team will have the features programmed and aligned to be developed in the next quarter, for example. This typically 2-day workshop as we saw before can be streamlined into one, with around 100 people from various teams where the rails are decided in parallel (the teams must then decide their respective trains). In other words, go only to initiatives and not to features.
- In the week following PI Planning, each team performs a Lean Inception. Defining the MVP of each of the functionalities — which were with a greater granularity — coming from PI Planning. This workshop is typically a week with 12 people (one team) where the first wagon (the MVP) is decided. Here, yes, the features are sequenced.
And all of this is the day-to-day life at Invillia. Search, test and raise awareness of best practices, adjusting to the context and suggesting the most suitable approach for each case. To make things happen with incremental results. Following our purpose of generating opportunities and facilitating the journey of our partners. Identifying and overcoming any impediments together, one by one. Showing what pains it is possible to cure, or at least alleviate, and how. Continuously looking at indicators and taking action. Proposing and making the necessary changes. And this is only possible with proximity and alignment. Of expectation, culture, purpose, and product vision. That’s the power of the Global Growth Framework, bringing these and other methodologies together with cutting-edge technology, insights and incredible talent in a fully adaptable way. Innovation to innovation, game-changer to game-changer.