Learn how you can make the SAFe PI Planning process more productive and simpler to conduct with VersionOne. In this blog, we will cover what SAFe PI Planning is and how VersionOne simplifies it.

What is SAFe PI Planning?

Program Increment (PI) Planning is conducted at regular intervals during the IP Iteration to coordinate all the plans for the Agile Release Train (ART). In organizations with more than one value stream, Pre-PI Planning meetings are conducted before the individual ART’s PI Planning events. Then Post-PI Planning meetings are conducted to roll-up the plans from the individual ART’s PI Planning events.

PI Planning is typically conducted every two-to-three months and takes a day and a half. It should be a face-to-face event when at all possible, but can be conducted via video conferencing. The event is run by the Release Train Engineer (RTE) and should include all of an ART’s team members.

During PI Planning leadership presents the business goals and vision. Then teams create plans for the upcoming Program Increment (PI). Finally, everyone in the ART agrees and commits to the upcoming PI objectives.

6 Benefits of SAFe PI Planning

Here are the top six benefits of conducting PI Planning:

  1. Improves decision making
  2. Ensures alignment among business, development, and delivery
  3. Increases communication and collaboration across the entire organization
  4. Coordinates dependencies and cross-team activities
  5. Balances demand with capacity
  6. Eliminates waste from excess Work in Progress (WIP) and architecture

Agenda for SAFe PI Planning

SAFe PI Planning consists of fourteen activities spread across two days:

Day 1:

  1. Business Context Presentation
  2. Product Vision Presentation
  3. Architecture Vision & Development Presentation
  4. Planning Context
  5. Team Planning Breakouts
  6. Draft Plan Review
  7. Management Review & Problem Solving
Day 2:

  1. Planning Adjustments
  2. Team Re-Planning Breakouts
  3. Final Plan review
  4. Exploring Program Risks
  5. Confidence Vote
  6. Plan Rework
  7. PI Planning Retrospective

How VersionOne Simplifies SAFe PI Planning

VersionOne helps you and your teams prepare for the SAFe PI Planning event, execute planning, capture planning outputs, and turn planning outputs into action. While the core activities of the PI Planning event may be straightforward, PI Planning itself is fundamentally not simple.

You are typically coordinating travel and meeting space for a lot of people from around the globe. Many of these people have items they have to get ready in preparation for the event. The event itself has a lot happening over a short period of time and it needs to be documented. Here’s a step-by-step guide of how VersionOne simplifies PI Planning.

Pre-Meeting Preparation

SAFe suggests that before the event you should:

  • Create a roadmap
  • Know the top ten features from the program backlog
  • Prepare presentations for business context, product vision, architecture vision, and planning context sessions
  • Align strategy among business, development, and delivery

Roadmap

Portfolio TimelineVersionOne auto-generates roadmaps based on the portfolio items you place into your backlog and the dates you put on those portfolio items. Our roadmaps provide full traceability from portfolio-level epics to development-level tasks, giving all stakeholders the contextual information they need — upstream or down — to prepare for PI Planning.

PlanningRoomYou can easily share the roadmaps in any format and collaborate on them in the VersionOne PlanningRoom. VersionOne provide PI Planning stakeholders a much simpler way of preparing, aligning, collaborating on, and approving roadmaps.

Program Backlog

Program BacklogPlanning, documenting, sharing, collaborating on, aligning, and approving your backlog at any level — portfolio, value stream, program, and team — is easy in VersionOne. You can easily enter your portfolio epics, features, and capabilities and then break those portfolio items into programs and user stories.

Objectives

SAFe PI Planning Release ObjectivesYou can plan objectives in VersionOne as well. VersionOne makes it easy to track objectives at the release train, PI, and team levels. You can also plan and track your business value objectives.

Performance Predictability

Program Predictability ReportUsing the planned vs actual business values enable you to easily create performance metrics using the performance predictability report or program predictability report. These reports help you predict how well your organization will be able to deliver in the future. The grey line in the chart above is showing the average of how well teams met their objectives. The green box represents the target range we want teams to fall into. The colored lines are the individual teams in our ART.

SAFe Budgets
You can connect those portfolio epics, features, and capabilities to your budget and strategic themes.

WSJFYou can also enter your estimated business value, time criticality, risk reduction, cost of delay, and SWAG.

Once you have entered these items, you can sort your list by Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) — a method of deciding which features to work on first. This make it very easy to determine, share, and agree upon your top ten program features.

Presentations

Performance ScorecardMuch of the business context, product vision, architecture vision, and planning context will come from resources outside of VersionOne, but VersionOne can make it easier to provide the appropriate context for those outside resources to the ART stakeholders, as well as make it simpler to collaborate and gain consensus on your presentations. VersionOne provides stakeholders the insight they need to create presentations at their fingertips. In a single platform presenters can see:

  • Value Delivered
  • Budgets
  • Milestones
  • Progress
  • Trends
  • Estimates
  • Dependencies

Strategic Alignment

RoadmapOne of VersionOne’s primary goals is to make it simpler to align business strategy, development, and delivery across large organizations with diverse value streams, portfolios, and teams. VersionOne enables you to easily visualize your strategic initiatives’:

  • Business value
  • Milestones
  • Dependencies
  • Budgets
  • Work estimates

ConversationsAnd, VersionOne makes it really easy to communicate and collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure strategic alignment.

Architecture Vision

Delivery VisibilityDuring this session, Engineering will review the architecture supporting this PI’s objectives. They may also address improvements to agile and continuous delivery practices. VersionOne empowers you to automatically track strategic initiatives as they are broken down into individual backlog items through source code, binary artifacts, automated testing, deployment, and compliance delivery processes.

VersionOne gives you a complete view of how business value flows through your value stream. It also makes it easier to identify bottlenecks. This makes it simpler for system architects and engineers to uncover opportunities for improvement and communicate those improvements during PI Planning.

SAFe PI Planning Context

Communities of PracticeVersionOne Communities of Practice provide an arena to capture, share, and maintain good agile practices that promote the evolution of agile organizations. This is a great centralized place that organizations can use to update and share their PI Planning context.

Team Breakouts & Draft Review

Iteration PlanningDuring the team breakout sessions, teams create a draft plan by estimating their capacity according to their current velocity and flesh out the user stories they will need to meet the objectives of the feature. While planning, the team identifies dependencies and risks and updates the program board.

Velocity TrendTeams can quickly determine their velocity and capacity with VersionOne. The VersionOne Velocity Trend report shows a team’s historical velocity over a set period of time. Sprint Member Capacity Planning allows members and teams to capture detailed hourly capacity targets so they can define the workload on a sprint-by-sprint basis.

Program BoardVersionOne makes it easy for all teams to update a single program board in real time. They can also see dependencies as shown above by the red lines. Organizations often have the program board shown on TVs during the breakout sessions. This makes it easier to visualize their plans during draft review.

Management Review and Problem-Solving

SAFe PlanningRoomThe initial draft plans will undoubtedly uncover scope, team constraints, and dependency problems. During the Management Review and Problem-Solving session, leaders make adjustments that resolve the problems. VersionOne provides leadership all the insight they need to understand the impact of the change they are considering. This enables them to make better decisions faster.

Planning Retrospective and Moving Forward

During the SAFe PI Planning retrospective, VersionOne makes it easy to capture what went well, what didn’t, and what can be done better next time. After the retrospective, teams will typically capture and organize the final objectives, stories, and schedule. If you are using VersionOne, these items have already been captured.

Conclusion

PI Planning is just a small part of how VersionOne simplifies SAFe. Watch our webinar, SAFe 4.5 with VersionOne to learn more.SAFe 4.5 with VesionOne
Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.

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