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Planning 101 for Agile Teams

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From the outside, one could see how detractors might assume that "Agile teams don't plan". What do you mean, you don't use MS-Project? Where are the Gantt charts? How do you know if you'll succeed if you don't track actuals against a plan? (Agilists ask: what makes you think you'll succeed just because you are tracking this? :-)

Planning is actually critical and central to Agile work, because of its empirical nature. Agile teams plan, execute, inspect, adapt... plan again.

On the Rally Software corporate blog, coach Stacia Heimgartner has outlined five levels of planning which help set good expectations with all levels of the organization. The level of detail at each level is appropriate to the audience, and accuracy of estimates increases as one moves from the executive "Make it So: at Level 1 to the team's "Making it So" at level 5:
  • Level 1: Vision Planning – Product owner and executives.
  • Level 2: Release Roadmap Planning – Product owner, executives and team.
  • Level 3: Release Planning – Product owner, stakeholders and team.
  • Level 4: Iteration Planning – Team (with product owner).
  • Level 5: Daily Planning – Team (daily status meeting).
For further reading, see Mike Cohn's book, Agile Estimating and Planning.

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