PI Planning

Align everyone's vision and identify dependencies and potential risks to delivering a project on time with PI boards

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What is PI Planning?

Program increment (PI) planning is a regularly scheduled event for the Agile Release Train (ART) team that is an essential part of a Scaled agile framework or SAFe. PI planning helps the team align their vision, define a cross-team roadmap, and identify cross-team dependencies. The generated PI board gives management visibility into dependencies and highlights potential risks to delivering a project on time.

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PI board template
physical sticky notes

Digital PI Planning vs a Physical Whiteboard

Most PI planning is first done on a physical whiteboard. This is great for getting everyone on the same page if you can get everyone in the same room. However, the physical whiteboard and its cards are not connected to any data and the board is not easily shared or updated. This is especially bad if anyone can't attend the event for any reason. SmartDraw gives you the best of both worlds. you can build a PI board on a digital whiteboard as your team contributes cards, or you can generate a PI board using your Jira data. many organizations wil use the digital PI board to supplement their in-person PI planning events to provide a real-time dashboard to their teams.

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Generate a PI Board from Data

You can generate a program increment planning board from your Jira data without any manual whiteboard work using SmartDraw. SmartDraw will let you connect your Jira account and import data. Learn how: Jira PI Board SmartPanel

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PI board from data
PI planning vs sprint

Difference Between PI Planning and Sprint Planning

PI planning is part of SAFe and it's a high-level event that occurs every 3 months (8-12 weeks) and typically involves multiple, cross-functional teams. In contrast, sprint planning is more frequent and focused on the work of a single team in a short period of time. A sprint planning session is part of Scrum and it will probably occur every 1-2 weeks depending on the length of a team's sprint.

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How Many Sprints are in a PI?

Sprints are short iterations of a team completing stories and tasks in the Scrum framework and part of the agile project management techniques. The most common length of a Sprint is usually 2 weeks, but it can vary anywhere between 1 and 4 weeks. How many sprints a PI will cover depends on the length of an organization's Sprints. If you have a PI planning session every 10 weeks and your Sprints are 2 weeks long, your PI planning session will cover 5 Sprints.

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Sprints in PI Planning
PI board example

How to Prepare for PI Planning?

Before PI planning can begin, it's important for stakeholders to define the key objectives and make sure every team is on the same page. It may also be a good idea to review the board from previous PI planning event to compare the planned iterations to the reality of what happened. The challenges faced in the prior iterations should help inform future plans.

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What is a Typical PI Planning Agenda?

You want to start any PI plan by clearly outlining the vision and business context from stakeholders. This makes sure all teams are aligned and have a common mission and goals. This is usually followed by breakout sessions where individual teams prioritize features and tasks with product owners and Scrum masters.

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large PI board example
PI board template selection

How To Do PI Planning in SmartDraw?

Step 1. Start with a PI Planning Template

Open SmartDraw's PI Planning template. You'll see a starter matrix with some columns for iterations and rows for your teams and milestones.

Step 2. Add or delete rows and columns

Make the board custom to your team. You can easily delete any row or add new ones using the SmartPanel or right-click menu.

Step 3. Add tasks

Drag and drop sticky notes and add text. You can also add notes using the yellow action buttons around existing notes on your board. Click on the arrow in the direction you want to add a new note. The board will automatically expand any cells to make room for notes added this way.

Step 4. Show dependencies

Use the line tool to connect sticky notes that are dependent on each other.

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PI Planning in Real Time

To recreate the experience of working on a physical whiteboard online, it's important that adding and moving notes on your board is quick and easy. You don't want to waste time manually lining up or moving notes. SmartDraw's PI board makes formatting automatic. When you add sticky notes using action buttons, SmartDraw's board will automatically expand to make room and the notes are aligned with the existing notes on the board. Moving notes from one iteration or team to another is also just as easy. Just drag and drop and the board will automatically adjust to make room.

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PI board from Jira

Add Single Jira Cards to Any Board

Even of you don't want to generate your entire PI board from data, SmartDraw lets you import individual Jira cards as needed to help inform any discussion. Connect to your Atlassian account and add any Jira card relevant to your PI planning. You can also push ideas and tickets generated during your meetings and brainstorming session back into Jira.

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PI Planning Examples

Check out these PI planning boards created with SmartDraw:

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