How can I use agile planning in my work?

Agile planning is a popular project planning method that divides work into sprints – self-contained work iterations. Sprints usually take quite short periods of time, about 1-2 weeks. During this time a team focuses on a small number of work items and strives to complete all of them. Agile planning identifies the items that should be done in each sprint and builds a repeatable process, to bring teams to an understanding of what they can accomplish.

Everything looks pretty simple if the project is not big. The requirements and ideas for your project, also called Backlogs may come from all stakeholders like the Business and Product Owners, customers, and of course your team members. Some of the requirements might be light enhancements or functional additions to the product. So that they can be completed during a sprint. But quite often a Backlog is larger and impossible to fit into an iteration. Such Backlogs named User Stories and split into two or more sprints. They say that the right User Story should be small enough to fit into one ‘Sticky Note’. Larger backlog items are treated as features delivering business value to customers. Further, you should also break these features down into stories and then schedule the stories over multiple iterations.

The bigger the businesses the more product portfolios they will have. There may be large-scale requirements or initiatives, such as the very idea of ​​a new product, that may involve multiple teams and iterations. But how to deal with huge initiatives that span multiple iterations? To handle such large-scale developments Agile suggests the following 5 levels of planning.

1.Product vision

Product vision is the long-term result that the product strives for. The vision should be clear enough to explain what an organization or product should look like after the project finishes and what efforts can be used to achieve this goal. Further planning activities will detail the vision, and may even alter it as the future might change market perspectives, the product, or the efforts required to make the vision reality. Anyway, all teams and team members will coordinate their work to ensure that this ultimate goal is achieved.

2. Roadmap

The roadmap is a product development plan to achieve the above vision. You can do it through graphical representation of the releases, or more formally in a written document. Your roadmap should clearly outline a plan with milestones, identifying steps that will help your business move closer to the goal.

3. Release plan

The release plan defines the list of features that will be implemented at a certain time. In small projects, the product backlog alone can provide a sufficient overview of the project. The size, duration, and results are easy to recognize and there is no need to synchronize or group aimed results. But for big and split to several teams projects, it is necessary to group activities and assign them to teams during release planning.

4. Iteration plan

You will need a planning session for each sprint within the release to add details and improve accuracy. During the session, break functions into tasks and calculate the real-time necessary for each task. It will help the team deliver a range of features with a high degree of confidence during the iteration.

5. Daily stand-up

The stand-up meeting is a part of everyday life for agile teams. These daily meetings are not often seen as planning sessions, but they certainly are. At such meetings, each team member should share details about: “what was done yesterday”, “what are the plans for today” and “any obstacles/problems currently being faced” if there are some. Daily meetings are crucial to communicating progress, identifying and solving issues during a sprint.

For small products, the Iteration Planning and Daily Standup levels might be enough. Therefore, depending on the size of the requirements in Backlog, you can apply just several or all of the planning levels as required.

Using a team management tool can be a big help for agile planning. Try Kanbanchi and it will help you define the user stories in each release and organize the stories into sprints. In Kanbanchi you can also assign tasks to different team members and easily track the progress. Kanbanchi will help you and your team unite your processes and focus on what really matters — getting work done in time.

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