Project Management

4 Ways Planning Helps Agile Teams

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

The Agile Manifesto puts forth four values, all of which seem to imply that planning is not a priority to a team that wants to be agile. Statements such as valuing “Working software over comprehensive documentation” and “Responding to change over following a plan” can lead a practitioner to think that planning is actually undesirable. Indeed, Agile has a different relationship with the planning process than traditional project management processes, but without a roadmap, a product or project can quickly find itself lost without even knowing it.

However, creating an accurate plan is difficult. The process often relies upon estimating the unknown; it involves determining how long a poorly specified capability of uncertain complexity will take to construct, test and deploy. Teams that spend too little time planning can find they didn’t go deeply enough, and the end result was unable to help provide even the simplest of direction. Teams that focus too much on planning not only use up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere, but the result is usually a plan that is rigid and cannot adapt when a basic assumption turns out to be wrong or circumstances change. And teams that land somewhere in the middle may still wind up with a plan that is outdated as soon as it is completed.

So, if Agile doesn’t seem to value planning, and the plans themselves are hard to construct …

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