Program Increment Planning is all about synchronization. To process feedback from the prior delivery; to plan out together what comes next. Doing it right gives you a Train that is worth more than its individual Teams combined. But how to move a decidedly in-person gathering to a virtual setting?
Marijt Weerts is a seasoned RTE, with dozens of PI events under her belt. “At X, at Y, at Z – I love the excitement that comes with ART launch and relentless improvement.” A PI planning event is supposed to be big and full of buzz, and that was hardly possible without a physical location… or so we thought.
Boris: “When COVID had just hit, I remember training groups with an uneasy feeling about PI Planning. Surely, getting the whole ART under one roof and taking on dependencies face to face is just not going to happen anymore. How is the SAFe community going to cope?”
It turns out, we did cope. Some even thrived. Today almost a year since the virus went global, PI Planning is now a virtual event in SAFe organizations everywhere. Time to share some successful cases to learn from – as well as some less successful trends.
Formal vs informal
Marijt: “What soon became clear is that if you invest in the bandwidth, then ‘the formal stuff’ is the easiest to replicate. Teams can convene in a virtual room just as easily as at a physical table. And plenary sessions in the morning are a no-brainer as well – we have webinars too, right?”
But a successful PI Planning event is also an informal gathering, full of ‘fortunate accidents’ and chance encounters. How to keep those alive?
Boris: “What we see is that the success of virtual PI Planning hinges on the RTE’s ability to lower the psychological barrier between teams despite the virtual setting. It takes some guts and creativity, but the result is a much more satisfying event.” Marijt objects: ”Not too low, though – or teams find they’re unable to concentrate! Yeah, I know - it’s a fine line to walk.”
Marijt continues: “A third thing we see is that companies don’t spend enough time making their virtual PI Planning events fun. PI Planning is a team building event as much as it is a logistics effort: made to build confidence for the ART and confirm that fact that all these people are ‘in this together’.
More about virtual PI Planning?
Want to find out more? Watch the recorded webinar from Laurens Bonnema on 'How to Handle PI Planning in a Virtual Environment'!