The foundation of having a successful PI Planning session is based on having good coordination and collaboration with all the team members, which could consist of more than a 100 individuals making up the Agile Release Train. The feeling of being united towards a shared vision and being able to smoothly have insightful and open discussions to address the impediments covering a larger horizon, is truly the goal of having a great PI Planning session.
During the course of the PI Planning, there are synchronization points that are important to maintain a level of alignment and uniformity towards achieving the goals of the Program Increment. In this article, we shall discuss in depth one of these synchronization points known as the Planning Scrum of Scrums (S.O.S). Along with uncovering the what, the why and the how of the Planning Scrum of Scrums, we will shed light on its importance during PI Planning.
What is Planning Scrum of Scrums?
Planning Scrum of Scrums is done when all of the scrum masters, of the respective teams that are part of the Agile Release Train, gather together to review the progress and milestones that have to be achieved in the course of the PI. It happens during the team breakouts sessions of the PI Planning event. The event is facilitated by the Release Train Engineer who can be considered as the chief scrum master of the Agile Release Train.
How is Planning Scrum of Scrums Done?
Similar to the scrum, where the scrum master asks questions from the teams and lasts for around 15 minutes, the Planning Scrum of Scrums session is timeboxed to 1 hour and follows an agenda. This agenda consists of questions that are asked by the Release Train Engineer from all the scrum masters of the teams. These questions can be as simple as something as “Is this thing done?” to somewhat complex questions. The questions asked are unique to every organization.
Below is an example of the questions that can be asked in a Planning Scrum of Scrums session.
- Have you identified the capacity for each iteration in the PI?
- Have you identified most of the stories for the first two iterations and begun estimating?
- Have you begun resolving dependencies with other teams?
- Are you discussing trade-offs and conflicting priorities with business owners?
- Have you identified program risks?
- Will you be ready to start writing PI objectives in the next 15 minutes?
- Is there anything you need to discuss with other Scrum Masters? If so, stay for the meet-after.
The Goal of Planning Scrum of Scrums
The beauty of the Scaled Agile Framework is that it stresses a great deal on alignment and transparency which is why the Planning Scrum of Scrums matters a great deal.
Many organizations often forget or do not give much importance to having the Planning Scrum of Scrums session during the PI Planning. The goal of the Planning Scrum of Scrums meeting is to know if the teams are able to achieve their iterations(sprints) goals, eventually giving clarity on if the goals of the Program Increment can be achieved rather than just a status check.
It provides an excellent opportunity to discuss and identify possible dependencies and impediments early on so that continuous integration can be ensured. It maintains an alignment amongst the teams and provides a stage of open discussions that can benefit not just the teams themselves but the whole Program Increment.
Digital Solution for Having a Planning Scrum of Scrums
Planning Scrum of Scrums during the PI Planning days is quite reliant on face to face communication. But not completely. If you are having PI Planning remotely with teams spread out across different parts of the globe, having a constructive Planning Scrum of Scrums is not an issue, provided your agenda is defined. This activity can be assisted by using the right digital tools.
Kendis is a one-stop solution for conducting and visualizing the Planning Scrum of Scrums session. With this new feature, you can conduct a seamless and a transparent experience for your Planning Scrum of Scrums.
One glance at this Planning Scrum of Scrums session is enough to know the pulse of the entire Agile Release train. A visualized Planning Scrum of Scrums session enhances transparency as it allows the Release Train Engineer and the involved scrum masters to identify, track and take action on the progress and bottlenecks of each agile team. It also enables them to make better-informed decisions for the future of the Program Increment.