Preparations for a Digital PI Planning Event — Scaled Agile Framework(SAFe)

Rishika Mittal
May 12, 2020 · 4 min read

In a world where digital transformations is the need of hour and workforce is distributed even in the same city and across geographies, many of the large scale events which used to happen with all in office are happening over calls. One such events when you are working in SAFe(Scaled Agile Framework) is the PI Planning Event(PIPE).

We had this event completely remote and distributed and below would be my recommendations for the preparations required to have a successful digital PIPE.

  1. Have a Core Team and Start Early — With many ARTs involved and a large number of people involved it is a must to have a core team who would be doing the arrangements and facilitation for the D-Day. The team should start with the preparations a minimum of 2 months before the event if this is the first PIPE to be done digitally.Also a very important point is to learn from others so contact someone with experience on this or read this blog. :-)

2. Collaboration Tools — I cannot emphasize this one enough . If you are not meeting people in an event where it is all about planning together you have to rely on tools to aid you with the planning and communication. For the experience I have had and with the minimal issues faced in the event I would recommend a PI Planning App like PI planning App(https://www.piplanning.io/) or Miro (for Planning) and MS Teams (Communication). The PI planning Apps generally have integration with ALM tools like JIRA which comes in very handy at the time of planning and afterwards . It takes away the rework of putting user stories in ALM tools post PIPE. We faced minimal issues in the app integration and was a huge relief for all. MS Teams has a great feature of teams and channels within it which made it a lot easier for all to switch between meetings (https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=hUUbA53ouSo). Initially there were some confusions but we got the hang of it soon enough. :-)

3. Contact Points Sheet— There are many conversations in PIPE which need to happen out of the teams between scrum masters, Product owners or Amigos other than the SOS syncs that are scheduled. For this a page with all the contact points of the entire team would be required which minimizes the effort and hassle to reach the required person during planning.

4. Runbook and Dry Runs — One thing which I would recommend as essential for a Digital PIPE is a Dry Run. And this was not my opinion when we started the preparation but doing this has made me realize the importance of dry runs even more. Have a replica run of the day with minimized duration but using all the tools and clearing the agenda for all. Whether you would want to do it for the whole team or only the product owners and scrum masters is completely your choice. One point to note here is share the documents with the folks one week in advance and reiterate time and again for them to use it.

5. Feature Preparation — Lastly but definitely one of the most important is the preparedness of the features before the actual PIPE which greatly reduces the last minute collaborations and discussions required. Have the features introduced to the team before the IP sprint and also the business requirements and high level feature solution clear which would help the teams in having the right dialogue and preparation in PI planning.

6. Energizers- Being online and in a call for such a long duration is exhausting for all and thus it is very important to have the energizers in place . You can have all sorts of energizers in place ranging from quizzes, visual energizers and even physical relaxations done online with the team.

Energizers

These were all the things(maybe some more) that helped us in our PI Planning Event.One thing which we also did different is having the RTEs and Product Managers in the office which helped in the over ART dependency discussions and faster resolutions.Hope this helps you too to plan better and make the most in these changed times.