Agile planning in one picture

Maybe if you are an agile practitioner, you found the title of this blog a little bit estrange. Principally because we know that agile planning exits and we need to use it.

However, as scrum master/agile coach, sometimes I see teams where the planning does not exist at all. PO is able to plan the next sprint 3 or 4 days before it starts. Of course, when I see this behavior, I start to ask about the communication with stakeholders and the vision the team has. Some of the answers I got:



  • Product backlog change a lot, no way to plan something
  • Planning is unnecessary
  • PO and stakeholder try to put some kind of plan without input from the team (this one scary me a lot)
  • The team some times is not able to finish all stories committed for one sprint, so the plan will be invalid soon.
  • and few ones…
In the other hand, the project accumulate delays and nobody knows too much, at that point, some kind of plan is created by PO and stakeholder from nowhere without the input from the team.
At that point I decide that the team is doing agile, but the planning is missed.
My approach to this situation was:
  • Clean up the product backlog, PO was so happy when he was able to delete around 25 stories (~15/20% of the backlog)
  • Full estimation of the backlog. The team never did it because the grooming session was so long. But I explain in 15min what estimation means and the best way to get good estimations (I took a lot of material and ideas from Mike Cohn books/site) . After few question, team agree in the way of the estimation should be. We arrive to estimate the full backlog in 50min playing “White Elephant Sizing”. After 50min, team and PO was very surprise of the big job they accomplish without talks between team members.  I add one rule to the game useful for me: PO must only talk 30sec per story (yeah…he practices the power of “elevator speech”)
  • Training PO to learn how to use estimation, backlog and velocity to put in place “the plan” to present to stakeholders. Again, Mike Cohn books and site are very useful, it helps me to explain it in a a very good way.
  • Wait and see the result (my preferred activity after apply something new)
Feel free to share your approach, maybe, I could improve my way of work the next time.
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Omar Bermudez


About the author

Omar is an agile practitioner and lover. Certified Scrum master. Agile Coach & Agile Leader. He believes it is important to continually be learning and growing. His dream is to be a lifelong learner; growing each day. He is also passionate about leadership development and seeing people reach their full potential. He is also a good husband & father (his wife says that time to times). He has a wonderful wife and 2 fantastic kids. In his free time, if he does not have any plan ahead, he tries to apply agile methodologies at the family level :). He enjoys a lot to travel with his family and discovers new places for them.