September 19, 2018

Get to grips with the core elements of planning in agile product management

Tip 1: First horizon: Daily sprint planning

Agile planning in product development with scrum has three main horizons. The first is daily planning, otherwise known as daily scrum planning. Within daily planning there are a few key things you’ll want to keep track of to get most out of it.

    • Contributions: How are the team contributing as a whole team to meeting the sprint goal set out at the beginning? Burn up or burn down charts can be helpful here.


    • Help: Stay abreast of how they’re offering/asking for help when meeting roadblocks or needing guidance. This is important when developing a positive culture.


“Agile planning with scrum involves far more planning than sticking to plans compared to sequential ways of working.”

Tip 2: Second horizon: agile sprint planning

Sprint planning, otherwise known as iteration planning, allows you to plan the items for the coming team sprint. The key to successful planning is to create concise and engaging goals to stimulate the team’s intrinsic motivators and desire to realise a milestone of the product or service on the roadmap.

To do that, the following questions must be asked of the work:

    1. How is this important to the wider product roadmap?


    1. Is this particular product or feature enhancement making an impact to lives of users? How do we measure it?


  1. What is simplest way for us to realise this value for the users?

For more on Sprint Planning I invite you to check out the article dedicated to it.

Tip 3: Third horizon: agile ‘release’ planning

Last but not least is agile ‘release’ planning. In an era of continuous integration & deployment we can release anytime. So the release level in terms of planning refers to milestones on the product roadmap. Looking at your product roadmap, you’ll need to ask yourself questions at regular intervals to ensure your work remains in alignment with the bigger picture:

    1. What are you using to measure whether or not you’re getting closer to achieving your current milestone in the wider product roadmap?


    1. What will you need to change or adapt along the way to maintain your trajectory toward your greater goal? Which changes have you made in your product metrics?


    1. How well have you and other stakeholders prepared for next major milestone? Is it coming dangerously close? Do you predict some downtime to manage this?


  1. How well are you trending toward realising the vision of your product or services in relation to your roadmap? Are the dates similar? Have you estimated it well? What can you learn from this?

Agile release planning involves asking these questions and evaluating your current situation in relation to the bigger picture.

I hope the video and tips above help you to understand the three main horizons of agile planning and compartmentalise them so that you can execute each of them more effectively. Once you do, you’ll be able to more accurately assess the team’s performance as well as the product’s performance according to the bigger product picture.

If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover, leave a comment below or send me a message through my website. Thanks for reading. See you next time!

Here’s the full transcript:

-Hi, Georg Fasching here,helping you unlock your team’s genius.
In this video I’m going to focus on agile planning.
And this is another video in the Power of Three series where I’m spending three minutes to share my top three encouragements and tips on any particular subject.
And when it comes to agile planning, let it be said that we’re doing a lot more planning, but a lot less sticking to plans than compared to sequential ways of working.
And with that, let us put three minutes on the clock starting now.
So agile product development with scrum has three main planning horizons and that’s where I’m going to share my three encouragements for you.
So firstly it is the daily planning that you’re doing which in scrum is also referred to as the daily scrum.
When it comes to the daily scrum there are a few pointers and key questions that I’d like for you to bear in mind to really help you get the most out of the daily planning activity.
The first thing is to insure that you are tracking how the team contributions are trending for realizing the sprint goal.
How are things going for the team over the course of the sprint towards realizing the sprint goal?
How are the team members helping each other?
It’s very important for the team to develop this helping culture.
That really makes a strong team.
So if somebody is hitting a roadblock or needs some guidance in some shape or form, the team needs to come
in to help them with that and what do you already
know when it comes to as you’re working through the sprint that you might only find out in the retrospective afterwards, right?
So there’s no need differing any of those learning opportunities to the end of the sprint.
The second horizon is the iteration planning or the agile sprint planning and there it is very important to formulate a very concise and engaging sprint goal that is important also for intrinsic motivation of the team, but also for realization of the value in your product.
So how is the sprint goal important?
How is it important what we’re creating?
What difference does it make in the lives of our users?
And what is the simplest way to realize this value for the users and develop the scope and strategy?
So those are three key questions that encapsulate very well the importance that you want to highlight in your sprint planning activities.
So what is the sprint goal?
Concise formulation of that.
How is that important?
How is it creating value?
How is it making a positive difference in the lives of the users that you are serving?
And what is the simplest way of realizing this value
in terms of the scope but also the strategy of the team working together and making that happen?
Then last but certainly not least is the third planning
horizon in agile planning which would be referred to as agile release planning where you’re working with your product road map to ensure how are tracking on the realization of the milestone that you’re currently working on.
What do you need to change and adapt in order to still stick with the goal that you have set for your release and the shift in the product metrics that you’re looking to target with the work that you have taken on?
And how is the preparatory work for the next milestone on your roadmap taking shape so that you’re ready to start work once you have finished the realization of the current milestone?
And how are you trending towards realizing the product and services vision overall by working on the realization
of your product roadmap?
And with that we are out of time in this episode of the Power of Three series.
Thank you very much for your time and if you have any thoughts or comments on this particular video, please share them in the comments.
And if you’ve found something useful in this video, please like, share and subscribe.
And I’ll see you in the next video.
Thank you very much and the best for the practice with your team.

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About the author 

Georg Fasching

A leadership team development specialist, International Coach Federation - Professional Certified Coach, with global product management experience since 2000, employing Agile & Lean since 2010, Georg Fasching guides leadership teams to delighting their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.

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