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Creating Valuable PI objectives v1.1.1 - OLD version

NOTE: a newer version has been published. Go to to find the newest version (dynamic link). This version is superseded by v1.1.2


PI Objectives are a key element of SAFe and especially the PI Planning & Inspect & Adapt events. The concept may also be of use when you apply the practice of Big Room Planning for a longer timescale (collaborating on a rough plan for multiple Sprints with multiple teams). PI Objectives can help give Focus and get a shared sense of direction. This presentation aims to include all essential information to get started with creating Valuable PI Objectives. Let me know which parts were most helpful and which can be improved (or scrapped)!

v1.1.1 has added empty templates and some other small improvements compared to 1.0.0.

If you want a PDF copy, please let me know and I will send it to you :)

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Creating Valuable PI objectives v1.1.1 - OLD version

  1. 1. Transforming organizations into software-driven responsive enterprises Creating Valuable PI Objectives “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” ~ Yogi Berra Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 – v1.1.1
  2. 2. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 A PI Objective is ‘just’ a large Sprint Goal. Both describe the WHY of an effort. PI OBJECTIVES IN A NUTSHELL 2
  3. 3. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 Goals/Objectives of this document • Help teams apply the practice of PI Objectives* in a valuable way; • Create clarity on the use of PI Objectives for beginners and practitioners; • Summarize the knowledge and context as provided in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe); • Provide starting examples/templates to limit the cognitive load needed when crafting PI Objectives during PI Planning; • Prevent distress, disconnectedness, helplessness, hopelessness and general lack of ownership during PI planning by providing insight and potential benefits of the practice; • Provide a clear basis for the teams as a starting point for learning. This document is intended to help teams who want to benefit from the practice of setting PI Objectives. PI Objectives are a SAFe practice and are interconnected with to other SAFe practices. This document will presume you work in a SAFe context, that is, are organized in an Agile Release Train and organize PI Planning and Inspect & Adapt Events. Teams should experiment and find their own groove when it comes to creating valuable Objectives. Don’t blindly follow every template here. Make it your own. Make it Work. You can do it! * PI is short for Program Increment. Throughout this document the shorthand will be used in various combinations, like PI Objectives, and assumed known. AIM OF THIS DOCUMENT 3
  4. 4. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 In SAFe PI (Program Increment) Planning, we create PI Objectives to give us direction. In the PI Objective the WHAT and the WHY are made clear. The Objective explains why it is a good idea to carry out the sprint an implement the stories. This results in a clear way of communicating what we are aiming to achieve. (The how is made clear in the Features & Stories). Definition of a PI Objective • a summary of the business and technical goals that an Agile Team or train intends to achieve in the upcoming Program Increment (PI). Intended benefits Focus • Aligns the train with a shared mission; • Creates the near-term vision, which teams can rally around and develop during the PI; Alignment & shared understanding • Provide a common language for communicating with business and technology stakeholders; • Communicates and highlights each team’s contribution to business value; • Exposes dependencies that require coordination Learning • Enables the ART to assess its performance and the business value achieved via the Program Predictability Measure; • Validates understanding of intent (quick feedback on understanding). WHAT ARE PI OBJECTIVES? 4
  5. 5. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 In practice, teams often struggle with defining clear objectives that are well understood by both the Business Owners, Stakeholders and Development Team(s). As a result, often many smaller ‘objectives’ are defined, that are hard to discern from Features or even User Stories. In this form, PI Objectives don’t add value since they are often technical/functional. This impedes communicating with Stakeholders about goals and business value of the PI. Potential negative side-effects • Stakeholders don’t get what we are working on. They don’t understand & value the teams’ efforts in worst case leading to mistrust; • Business Owners, Product Owners & Program Management have trouble aligning the Business and other development efforts on important goals in time; • Teams feel like creating Objectives is a chore and it doesn’t add value to them; • Business Owners have trouble assigning Business Value to the created Objectives. THE STRUGGLE WITH PI OBJECTIVES 5
  6. 6. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 Feature PI Objective Service that fulfills a Stakeholder need Business/Technical Goals & Milestones Short phrase (name & context) Simple business terms Benefit Hypothesis + Acceptance Criteria S.M.A.R.T. WSJF (incl. size: PI > Feature > Sprint) Business Value (1-10) Development Output Business Outcome Facilitates conversation on functionality & product changes Aligns teams on a near term Vision Typically adresses multiple user roles Validates understanding of intent Typically for 1 team (sometimes multiple) 2 levels: Team & Program PI Objectives Ordered, forecast in time Valued & measured (yes/no, quantitative, or provide a range) Flexible plan (forecast) Committed (except Stretch Obejctives) ‘Large User Story’ ‘Large Sprint Goal’ FEATURES VS OBJECTIVES 6
  7. 7. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 In PI Planning, teams summarize the information of their plan into simple business terms that can be understood by everyone. This is a high level overview of the steps taken to create PI Objectives during the 2-day event. 1. Each team pulls from the Features presented, in addition to team-specific work (Features & Stories from Team Backlog); 2. Teams collaborate to plan the realization of Features in their iterations (Sprints), with help from whomever is needed. Teams gain clarity on the Who, Why, What & How; 3. From this clarity, teams start identifying draft PI Objectives from coherent sets of Features, Enablers and Stories; 4. At the end of day 1 each team has a draft plan (Features, Enablers and Stories planned in iterations) & draft Team PI Objectives; 5. During day 2 teams refine their plans & objectives, including dependencies and shared objectives. Teams are expected to collapse similar/shared objectives to the same phrase/sentence. Stretch Objectives are identified. Business Value is assigned; 6. At the end of day 2 – after ROAMing the identified risks – the Train commits to PI Objectives (excluding Stretch) using the confidence vote; 7. Product Management (facilitated by RTE) is responsible for rolling up Team PI Objectives into Program PI Objectives in a format suitable for management communication. GETTING TO PI OBJECTIVES IN PI PLANNING 7
  8. 8. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 Since PI Objectives can be seen as large Sprint Goals, many of the advice on crafting a great Sprint Goal applies to PI Objectives as well. The only difference here is that there should be only one Sprint Goal, while multiple Objectives per team are allowed, since they are describing a longer timeframe. But having just one is perfectly fine too. Objectives can be shared across teams too. As long as they help create Focus and shared understanding. 1-5 Objectives per Team Every team should have at least one PI Objective and as many as are needed to cover the majority of the work forecasted in the Features they plan to deliver (or contribute to). Less is more: having more than five leads to lack of Focus and muddles shared understanding of the whole. Questions to start with • Why do we carry out the PI? Why is it worthwhile to run a PI? What should be achieved? • How do we reach its Objective? Which artefact, validation technique, and test group are used? • How do we know the Objective has been met? For instance at least three of the five users carry out the usability test successfully in less than a minute. CREATING PI OBJECTIVES: QUESTIONS TO START WITH 8
  9. 9. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 Since Objectives are all about focus, here are some ways to help find focus from different angles. While there are many ways to create focus, these three seem to be a good place to start from. Three ways to focus • Make it business or user focused when possible. What will a user be able to do when we implement this feature? What will a business area be able to achieve when we implement an enhancement? • Make it focused on testing business assumptions and getting feedback. Many times we do not know what is actually needed or what will best fulfill the business or customer need. Teams need early feedback to test assumptions regarding value to Stakeholders. • Make it focused on reducing risk. Proving out a technology or design is an important part of reducing risk. If we learn that a technology is not going to meet our needs for performance, security, or scalability, we can change direction. The earlier we change direction, the cheaper the cost of the change. CREATING PI OBJECTIVES: THREE WAYS TO FOCUS 9
  10. 10. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 Any goal or Objective is only as useful as the learning they support. To make sure these Objectives are not ‘set & forget’, we can apply SMART rules to ensure that the Objectives serve their purpose of Focus, shared understanding and learning. Apply SMART rules • Specific & Measurable • Allowing to determine success; • Elicit Stakeholder feedback & collaboration; • Binary evaluation is ok, success percentages are better (Objective met with 80% impact of forecast). • Attainable • Impact on this Objective can be made in the PI; • It is realized by the selected Features; • Stretch Objectives are potentially attainable (‘good weather forecast’). • Relevant • PI Objectives align with the Product & Business vision; • PI Objectives align with Business Strategy & Roadmaps. • Time-bound • Should be evaluable & attainable within the PI timeframe. CREATING PI OBJECTIVES: MAKE THEM SMART 10
  11. 11. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 Unclear Objective Clearer Objective Enhance shopping cart functionality. Streamline purchasing process to enable an increase in conversion rates. Improve performance. Increase page load time by X%, so customers experience less frustration. On-board new market segment. Enable new market segment to purchase Service Y. Reduce service workload. Reduce workload of service representatives by Z%. Remove legacy data structures. Improve maintainability & stability by reducing nr of incidents by N, so teams have more time for innovation. EXAMPLE PI OBJECTIVES 11 The unclear Objectives are too broad and general. Try to make Objectives clear and focused. Also, the Objectives on the left are more like descriptions of how we want to change, instead of describing the expected/desired impact.
  12. 12. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 PI OBJECTIVE TEMPLATE: STORY SPINE When creating Story Spines, Start at the edges and work your way in. Post its may be a handy tool to enable creative shuffling and adjusting. This one is best suited for user-facing Features, but can also be used for Enablers. Experiment! 1. Write down the opening and closing of the Spine. This helps focusing on who benefits and what this benefit is. The USER will typically be the user, customer or stakeholder who benefits from the working Features and whose problem we aim to solve; 2. Inject ‘Until <PI> by <team x(&y&z)>; 3. Fill the remaining steps of the template. Focus on one problem, aim for 1-3 features; 4. Review and iterate until the goal makes sense. Collaborate with Business Owners & other Stakeholders to clarify; 5. Rinse & Repeat until all Features & Enablers are covered; 6. Use the resulting paragraph on its own, or inject it in the table of the next slide. Story Spine template for a PI Objective Once upon a time there was a <USER> Every day the <USER> faces a <PROBLEM> Until this Program Increment Because of <SOLUTION / FEATURE A> And because of <SOLUTION / FEATURE B> And because of <SOLUTION / FEATURE C> Finally, the <USER> solves their <PROBLEM> And ever since then the <USER> gains <BENEFIT> 12
  13. 13. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 PI OBJECTIVE TEMPLATE: SIMPLE STRUCTURE When creating a simple Objective structure, start with the knowns like the Product and the PI name. Use facilitation techniques to prevent groupthink and loudest voice decides. 1. Brainstorm on possible goals based on the selected features for the Objective. For instance all team members create potential goals individually; 2. Pool & select the best candidate Objectives and refine them according to the tips in this document; 3. For each Objective, ‘Method’ should contain reference to features that help meet this objective, and even better, specific acceptance criteria that contribute’to the Objective. This is how we make it specific; 4. For each Objective, ‘Metrics’ should list ways we intend to make the result of the Objective measurable. PRODUCT / SERVICE Product Name PROGRAM INCREMENT PI number or name Business Value Expected/realised PI OBJECTIVE Why is it worthwhile to run the PI? What should be achieved? For instance, address a risk, test an assumption, or deliver a feature. Is this a Stretch Objective or a regular one? Optionally use the Story Spine format here (see next slide). METHOD How is the Objective met? Which 1) artefact, 2) validation technique and 3) test group are used? For instance, 1) paper prototype, spike, shippable increment; 2) product demo, usability test, A/B test; 3) users, customers and/or internal stakeholders. METRICS How do you determine if the Objective has been met? For instance, at least three of the five users carry out the usability test succesfully in less than a minute. 13
  14. 14. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 PI OBJECTIVE TEMPLATE: SIMPLE STRUCTURE (EMPTY) PRODUCT / SERVICE Product Name PROGRAM INCREMENT PI number or name Business Value Expected/realised PI OBJECTIVE Why is it worthwhile to run the PI? What should be achieved? Who Benefits (stakeholders)? METHOD How is the Objective met? Which 1) artefact, 2) validation technique and 3) test group are used? METRICS How do you determine if the Objective has been met? 14
  15. 15. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 PI OBJECTIVE TEMPLATE: ALTERNATE SIMPLE STRUCTURE (EMPTY) PRODUCT / SERVICE Product Name PROGRAM INCREMENT PI number or name Business Value Expected/realised PI OBJECTIVE What do we want to achieve? Title/one sentence description, including the goal of this Objective. STAKEHOLDERS Who benefits from the changes we are making? Who is impacted by realizing this Objective? ADDED VALUE Why is this valuable to the customer, user and/or company? How will we know this value is realized? 15
  16. 16. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 Assigning Business Value Evaluating Business Value During PI Planning During I&A (Inspect & Adapt) Business Owners Business Owners 1-10 1-10 Collaboration with teams Based on Stakeholder feedback & metrics Forecasted value of Objectives Actual value of delivered functionality Forecast total (excluding Stretch) Realized Total (including Stretch) Entire Train commits to non-Stretch Objectives Updated Program Predictability Measure ASSIGNING & EVALUATING BUSINESS VALUE 16
  17. 17. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 No PI Objectives – Possible! A national mortgage division worked without PI Objectives. They had enough transparency, focus and collaboration from Feature planning only. Collaboration with Business Owners and other Stakeholders went well, for example having the right discussions and decisions during PI Planning (management review). Half PI Objectives – detrimental effect An international publisher’s division used PI Objectives temporarily & half-baked. No Business Value was assigned, they were not made SMART and evaluated properly. Not closing the feedback loop created stress and lack of clarity and collaboration between the teams and the Business Owners. Proper PI Objectives – Painfully transparent The insurance devision of a large Bank used PI Objectives to sumarize what they hoped to achieve in a Program Increment. In the second PI planning this went quite smoothly. However, from this planning it became clear that reaching the desired business outcomes wold take much longer than they had hoped, and was not realistically expected to deliver a good return on investment. Within the next half year the program was stopped and the development capacity allocated to other efforts. REAL WORLD CASES 17
  18. 18. Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018 Scaled Agile Framework • PI Planning • PI Objectives & The Role of PI Objectives • Features & SAFe requirements model • Milestones • Program Predictability Measure Sprint Goals (very similar to PI Objectives) • Effective Sprint Goals (Pichler) • Creating Good Sprint Goals ( • Story Spines Retro technique (Tastycupcakes) • Story Spines background (Pixar a.o.) RESOURCES ON PI OBJECTIVES 18
  19. 19. Office Bangalore (IN) Building 2A-West Tower, Embassy Tech Village Outer Ring Road, Deverabeesanahalli Village, Bangalore – 560087, Karnataka, India +91 80 49 08 78 00 Office Düsseldorf (DE) Stadttor Medienhafen 17. Etage Stadttor 1, 40219 Düsseldorf Germany +49 211 3003 401 Office Silicon Valley (US) 530 Lytton Avenue 2nd Floor Palo Alto, California 94301, United States +1650 617 3267 Headquarters Delft (NL) Brassersplein 1 2612 CT, Delft The Netherlands +31 15 241 18 00 Creating Valuable PI Objectives “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” ~ Yogi Berra Sjoerd Kranendonk – – 2018