Agile planning & sprint development

Planning is one of the most critical and frequent activities that takes places in all agile-based development frameworks. The goal of planning is to always have a clear, prioritized, consistently defined work backlog with a clear vision and strategy to back it up. Having your plan in place sets the path for development and keeps sprints efficient and effective. You know in advance when you'll have daily scrums, reviews, and retrospective meetings. Once the product backlog is established in an initial planning session, teams revisit the plan at frequent, regular intervals to select work to accomplish, inspect progress and adapt to any changes that may have occurred during the interval.

In most Scaled Agile frameworks, planning typically takes place at two levels: a higher level, tying the greater backlog to strategy and vision, and at a lower level, tying the backlog to execution and delivery.

Agile Planning: Program Level

SAFe, Spotify: Program Increment planning
Da: Construction
LeSS: Sprint One planning
Scrum@Scale: MetaScrum

At the higher level of planning, development teams, stakeholders, and other resources are devoted to an ongoing solution or product development program. This planning encompasses the program level teams, roles, and activities that deliver a continuous flow of value over a series of release increments. These backlogs and goals go across functional boundaries, eliminate unnecessary handoffs and steps, and accelerate value delivery by implementing agile principles and practices.

Program level planning is a regular, face to face event with a repeatable agenda and set of objectives. This event can take place over several days within the iteration. Once the vision and strategic goals have been set, teams break out into smaller teams to hash out the details in the form of epics and user stories. When this level of planning has been completed, the teams will move on to more delivery focused planning at the team level.

Agile Planning: Program Level

SAFe, Spotify, Da: Iteration planning
LeSS: Sprint Two planning
Scrum@Scale: Sprint planning

Planning at the team level happens by selecting user stories from the team backlogs developed during program level planning and committing to execute a set of them in the upcoming iteration. In addition, the teams have feedback-not only from their prior iterations but from the System Demo and other teams. That, and the natural course of changing fact patterns, provides the broader context for team level planning.

The output of planning is a backlog made up of work selected for a given time period including acceptance criteria, clearly stated goals, and a commitment by the team to the work needed to achieve the goals. Regardless of the agile framework your organization has chosen, planning is an activity that will become a familiar part of your workflow. To learn more about how Jira Align is the best for scaled agile planning, click the button below.

“We have to be able to be fast to market and be able to reduce the time from idea to implementation. So, tools like [Jira Align] that help us do that are strategically important.”

Mike Hoffman

Senior Director, Cornerstone OnDemand

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