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                          Agile Technique Brief: Agile Planning


                          Quick Summary
                          This guideline explains what planning looks like on an agile project, as well as what kind of projects are most likely to benefit from it, and how to organize successful planning for your agile project at the release, iteration, and day-to-day level.


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                          What this is

                          This technique brief provides an overview of agile planning, an iterative and feature-based approach to project planning.


                          Why it's useful

                          Agile planning is feature-based, iterative, owned by the team, and uses different levels of detail. These characteristics provide teams an opportunity to get rapid feedback on their designs and processes, apply learning from past experiences quickly, and keep their project plans simple, but effective. This approach to planning provides project teams with a means to produce features in a short amount of time in order to gain useful feedback from users, customers, and stakeholders. It also allows teams to defer decisions on detailed requirements until the feature is being developed, allowing them to apply the most current and accurate information possible.

                          This approach works when the team has decided to follow an iterative and incremental project approach and is most useful in situations where the product of the project can be delivered in small increments.


                          How to use it

                          There are several different layers of planning. This technique brief describes three of those levels—release planning, iteration planning, and daily planning. The following steps provide an overview of how to start planning at the beginning of a project. Assume the project has been approved to proceed and that there is a project value model with a defined project purpose, considerations, and cost-benefit analysis.

                          1. Gather the team together to refine and update the project value model with any new information and to establish a feature list.
                          2. Prioritize the feature list by determining the relative cost, benefit, and value of the features.
                          3. Determine in what releases those features will most likely be delivered. (See the Release Planning section.)
                          4. At the start of each iteration, pick features for that iteration and break them into tasks. (See Iteration Planning.)
                          5. On a daily basis, coordinate the team?s activities. (See Daily Planning.)
                          6. Repeat Steps 3?5 as appropriate.
                          About the Author

                          Kent J. McDonald, partner and co-founder of Accelinnova, has more than a decade of experience guiding successful projects and designing business solutions in a variety of industries, including financial services, health insurance, performance marketing, human services, non-profit, and automotive. By addressing common questions about project leadership, Kent demonstrates how agile practices can be applied in organizations, focusing on his "Words To Lead By: Collaborate; Iterate; Serve The Team; Consider Context; Practice Excellence; Reflect And Adapt; Deliver Value."

                          Kent has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and an MBA from Kent State University. He is co-founder, and Treasurer of the Agile Project Leadership Network, is a founder of the Agile Iowa Group, and is on the planning committee for the Agile 2007 Conference. He welcomes questions about project leadership with a focus on value at kent@kentmcdonald.com.


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