Improving Remote PI Planning with Easy Agile Programs

Teagan Harbridge

by Teagan Harbridge, Head of Product

27 Mar 2020

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Last updated: May 2021
“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversations”
Agile Manifesto, 2001

As true as this statement was 19 years ago and continues to be today, we face unprecedented times that have forcibly stopped large workforces from being able to communicate in-person.

Given the macroeconomic situation with COVID-19, we’ve seen international border closure and the ban of mass gatherings, forcing organisations around the globe to embrace remote work (I too, write this blog post to you from my impromptu ‘home office’).

We’re leaning on technology more than ever before to ensure effective borderless communication and to support our business as usual activities.

We’re in an extremely fortunate position, unlike so many others, where the nature of our work can be done from home. But where does that leave organisations who assemble their workforces 4-5 times a year for their PI Planning - the heartbeat of any successful SAFe implementation?

Easy Agile Programs: Equip your remote, distributed or co-located teams for success with a digital tool for PI Planning

Providing a Solution for Remote PI Planning in Jira

We truly believe Easy Agile Programs has the capabilities to help teams around the world adapt to remote work without jeopardising their success or their customers' success.

We wrote this blog post a few months back about how Easy Agile Programs + Jira can aid in the successful execution of distributed PI Planning, and we believe this rings true now more than ever.

With that in mind, we have and continue to work on how we can improve the remote PI planning experience in Easy Agile Programs.

Digitising the SAFe Program Board

One of the ways we’re working to enhance your distributed PI Planning experience with Easy Agile Programs, is by digitising the SAFe Program Board.

We understand how important this artefact is for teams, and the job it does to highlight feature delivery dates, significant risks to be mitigated, feature dependencies amongst teams and relevant milestones.

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The Program Board acts as a primary artefact and “visual radiator” during weekly Scrum of Scrum and PO/PM Meetings, and is used by RTEs to coordinate dependencies and provide visibility into the progress of impediments.

Due to the importance of the Program Board, and the current situation, we felt that taking steps to make it remotely accessible was crucial for the success of the teams relying on Easy Agile Programs.

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Easy Agile Programs

The latest version of Easy Agile Programs has a range of features aimed at helping distributed teams build out a Program Board in Jira. Below is an overview of these features.

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Transparent feature level dependencies

Many teams using Easy Agile Programs have told us that visualising their Feature level dependencies is crucial to understanding and communicating the health/status of their Program Increments. This is also one of the main jobs of the Program Board.

Using coloured lines to visualise the health of the dependency ensures that we have an at-a-glance view of significant dependencies that pose a risk to our PI.

Easy Agile Programs ➡️ Filter the Increment Overview by at risk, healthy or blocked dependencies for effective conversations.

Viewing external dependencies

From the Program Roadmap, we also hope to help teams understand the health/status of their Program Increments more holistically by surfacing external Feature dependencies.

program board

External dependencies in Easy Agile Programs are any dependencies that exist between Features scheduled in different Program Increments or even entirely different Programs.

Creating Milestones

“Milestones mark specific points on the development timeline, and they can be invaluable in measuring and monitoring the product evolution and risk”
SAFe

Easy Agile Programs enables you to create milestones on the Product Roadmap to highlight key delivery dates, external events or business milestones.

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Team swimlanes

Team swimlanes help improve visibility of committed work, with work in progress, feature delivery dates and dependencies clearly represented in individual team swimlanes. These essentially represent individual team roadmaps.

Along the top of the board is the Shared Team Features swimlane. This represents features or epics which require the effort of multiple teams.

Increment Overview with Team Swimlanes and Shared Team Features Swimlane

The Future of Easy Agile Programs

When we first wrote this blog post back in 2019, we had a few ideas of how we could improve our customer experience to help distributed PI planning. But the reality is, the Covid-19 pandemic has put any remote planning tool to the test, with our customers needing tools that can keep up with and support their workflows wherever they are located.

So, why not see what you think and let us know how we could improve?

Are you using Easy Agile Programs to run remote PI Planning sessions? We want to hear from you and in return we’ll send you a T-Shirt 👕

  1. What are some of the difficulties you face running remote PI Planning using Easy Agile Programs?
  2. How could we improve the effectiveness of your remote planning sessions?
  3. What is the biggest gap in functionality that would help you perform more effective remote PI Planning?

Send your responses to support@easyagile.com. We’d love to hear how we can help.

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