We recently did our quarterly planning in Amsterdam. This is our version of what scaled agile calla program increment planning. It takes place at the end of each quarter and is an attempt to plan out the sprints for the following quarter. It is a good reason to visit Amsterdam.
In terms of the planning this was our very first attempt and there were quite a few things to learn from the process.
The first thing was that scaled agile is aimed at bigger teams than ours and we struggled to get a cohesive way of working during the day. The main problem was the members of our team we’re having to work on more than one of the sprint items so it was difficult to break off into smaller groups. This led to some sessions being run where some team members would have little or no involvement.
I think the solution to this is to either not do this kind of planning or two actually thinking in advance how the tasks will be allocated to individuals. The problem with that solution is that it goes against an agile team being self organising, but then that is my concern with scaled Agile anyway.
What was genuinely useful was to share with the team all of the forthcoming tasks and give them time to think about how they could be implemented. We spent a brief time on each of the sprint tasks and identifies the risks attached to each. This gave us some good issues that we needed to pass upwards way before we started the work.
Another mistake I made was to arrange it only for one day. This gave us enough time to hit each task at a rudimentary level and get a general confidence level on the work for the quarter. With one more day it would have given the development team the time and space to go through each task and identify the user stories we needed to create.
I think we also need to find a better way of documenting our findings so that we have evidence and we can remind ourselves of what we discussed and agreed.
It was an incredibly useful day but next time will be better.
If you are at all interested in scaled agile checkout their site, https://www.scaledagileframework.com.