At the beginning of January, ENAV, DSNA and skyguide members met remotely for the first SAFe event, the PI (Program Increment) Planning. This is a major event of the scaled Agile methodology that Coflight Cloud Services is currently implementing. Here is how it happened, the objectives and the commitments of the teams.

PI Planning: How does it work?

The PI Planning is organised over a day and a half with the support of Sopra Steria Group‘s Agile coach. All CCS members are invited. The goal is to agree on a planning and objectives for the next period (15 weeks divided into 3-5 weeks sprints). The PI Planning is part of a recurrent process that repeats itself every 15 weeks. This particular one marked the launch of Step 2.

The aim of this event was to align all CCS members with a common vision and the collaborative elaboration of objectives built and shared during the planning, design of teams planning for the next 3 sprints and identification of major risks and structural dependencies.

Organisation and timing of such an event is essential; the agenda that the CCS teams experienced is as follows:

  • First half-day: top-down information sharing session. Samuel Stambach from skyguide presents his expectations, Guillaume Ramonet explains the CCS vision, then Valentina Piccineli and Laura De Stefani present the Agile framework and the planning. Charlotte Chambellin shares the intended scope for this Business Solution, and Quentin Grandjean with Enzo Amadio present the system architecture.
  • Second half-day: first group working session. All teams prepare a first iteration of their planning, risks and objectives. At the end of the day, each team perform a draft plan review to make it possible for stakeholders at program level to negotiate potential scope and planning adjustments and resolve problems and impediments during the next management review
  • Last half-day: second iteration. The teams take action and finalize their plan, making the appropriate needed adjustments. Presentation of the Final Plan Review by all the teams, risk analysis and conclusion by the management.

To summarize, here are the key elements of the PI Planning:

  • Definition of the schedule, objectives, vision
  • Definition of the scope: prioritize program level elements
  • Major outcomes: teams plan (including dependencies), objectives and risks

At the end of the event, the teams commit to a number of actions to be carried out during the next PI in agreement with management based on respective business value assessment.

Motivating the teams

PI Planning is an exercise requiring transparency and alignment. Management teams explain company’s challenges that must be addressed by all the teams and the strategic themes covering these challenges.

This end-to-end understanding regarding value creation of each teams work and each team members is fundamental for the motivation. The emulation created by collaborative work during this day and a half, both within each team and between teams, creates a real esprit de corps, prerequisite to achieving the Step 2 objectives.

The availability of key people to arbitrate, discover and understand the ideas that the teams have to take on board is fundamental. The quality of the teams work and their ability to commit greatly depends on the presence of these key people during the teamwork.

Due to COVID-19 crisis, this event had to be held remotely. Good communication is even more essential during such a remote event. Then collaborative and digital tools have been used to facilitate this and to make it possible, such as Klaxoon and Microsoft Teams.

Everyone enjoyed working with these tools and will continue using it and enhance the various digital boards they created. The fluidity and ease of use of such tools is essential for the successful completion and total involvement of the teams despite the particular context.

Results of the event

The teams leave the event with a committed plan for the next program increment (15 weeks) and objectives agreed with business owners. This work should enable them to quickly build their Sprint Boards, identify dependencies with other teams and identify the risks to be addressed (classification, appointment of a person responsible, action plan).

The program management team leaves with a Program Board that reflects the commitment of the teams to deliver during the first program increment, objectives that summarize the commitment of the teams and a list of risks to be managed.

The business owners leave with the assurance of the commitment and understanding of the teams with regard to their issues.

Benefits of PI Planning

Here are the various benefits for organizing such an event:

  • Creating direct communication between team members and stakeholders
  • Building a real social network around the Agile methodology
  • Aligning developments with the business context, vision, teams and program objectives
  • Identifying dependencies and encourage collaboration between teams.
  • Quick decision-making thanks to the presence of all necessary stakeholders

Next steps for CCS teams

This event allows an important sharing of information, as well as a short and medium term vision of the teams’ activities. Following this event, weekly meetings called ART Sync are set up to ensure a follow-up of the PI progress and raise potential problems or impediments making sure they are quickly dealt in a collaborative way.

At the end of this first PI, CCS teams will participate in another important event: the Inspect and Adapt. During this event : teams present what they have achieved during the PI; At program level, relevant KPIs are presented and all members take part in a problem solving workshop where they collectively agree on improvement for CCS program.

During the course of this PI, Product Management and System Architect teams prepare next PI planning scope with the help of all relevant stakeholders (CCS members and potential external key resources).

To conclude, this first remote event went very well and feedbacks are good. Communication between all participants was fluid and many discussions took place between the different teams. This event made it possible to identify the level of maturity of each stakeholders, as well as their expectations.

The CCS teams are already well on their way to ensuring the deployment and success of Step 2, thanks to the excellent collaboration between ENAV, skyguide and the DSNA.