Adaptive Planning

Adaptive planning is a process of breaking a development project into small parts or slices and then projecting the delivery rate over time to determine the overall predicted delivery date. The main aim of adaptive planning is to provide ultimate flexibility to the team while it proceeds ahead with the work. Since adaptive planning has an incremental nature, it can at times yield unexpected outcomes. With Adaptive Planning, the predicted delivery date can vary depending upon how much variation the team are exposed to. Therefore, publication of the predicted completion date is critical. This leads to a bigger focus on expectation management. Typically, the Scrum Master, Delivery Lead, or Project Manager is responsible for collecting and publishing the data to support adaptive planning – but occasionally the business analyst might cover this duty. Data is extracted from the team delivery tools, i.e. Jira, Mingle, VersionOne, LeanKit, etc. or from the physical card wall. With adaptive planning, it’s critical to have goals that the team are burning up towards. Empirical planning instead of deterministic planning; which means measure and predict, instead of plan and promise. In more traditional planning approaches a plan is formulated then followed. Due to the unpredictable nature of software development, it’s not possible to follow a predetermined plan due to the many unforeseen issues that regularly occur during development. Therefore, the only sensible approach is to use ‘yesterday’s weather’ to infer the rate of delivery combined with the overall amount of work yet to do. This yields a much more accurate set of planning data. In many ways, using an empirical approach is a far simplified way to plan than using deterministic measures. Adaptive planning is a critical technique that all Project Managers, Delivery Leads, and Scrum Masters need to learn. These techniques plus many more are covered in our one day Lean Agile Boot Camp workshop.

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