6 Key Advantages of Quarterly Agile Planning

Insight categories: AgileDigital TransformationAutomotiveCommunicationsConsumer and RetailFinancial ServicesHealthcareManufacturing and IndustrialMediaTechnology

For companies starting out as well as established companies on their agile journey, quarterly planning is typically one of their top challenges. But it doesn’t need to be.

Advantages with Quarterly Agile Planning

When done correctly, quarterly planning can help you effectively accomplish all of the objectives below.

1. Management Vision and Priorities Become Known

Every quarter, management will inform and explain their updated vision and priorities to their employees, so they are able to understand and align to the company ethos.

Prior to an agile transformation, it’s common for teams to communicate that they don’t understand their leader’s vision or priorities. Therefore, it is the role of the management to clearly communicate everyone’s priorities. This particular transition is always a delight to see.

2. Communications Between Delivery Teams and Management Become Clear

When everyone on the team attends a meeting and discusses what the management wants and why, the team then comes back to management with realistic written targets stating what they can deliver.

This leaves little ambiguity between what management wants (but almost never gets all of) and what the team can deliver.

3. Dependencies are Identified and Tracked

While teams commit with good intentions, they can’t always deliver. The number one reason they don’t is because of dependencies. That’s why it’s important to identify them upfront and document them in a tracking system.

It’s essential that the dependencies are monitored, otherwise the quarter will come to an end only to discover that certain committed deliverables won’t be delivered due to dependencies.

4. Shared Services are Actively Involved in Commitments

Shared services will often have commitments outside the planning group. They will probably have their own roadmap entailing systems upgrades and other commitments that need to be taken into account.

The best way to address this is to include them in your planning and have them determine their own commitments.

5. Inviting Everyone Generates Shared Understanding

When you talk about inviting individual contributors such as developers, QA, etc., it is advisable to push back the perceived reduction in productivity.

I have also received persistent positive feedback when individual contributors participate. This feedback includes understanding what the larger business unit does, understanding what they’ll be working on, and accepting suggestions on how to change objectives to make them better.

6. Everyone Has a Say in the Commitments

Adding to the above, not only is everyone invited but they also have a say in the quarterly goals for the team.

This sense of ownership is powerful because it helps further cement their commitment than if they were simply being handed down orders.

Doing Prep Work in Advance to Planning Can Make or Break It

Some companies have a variety of complex regulations and are unable to plan in real-time. One previous client, for example, could walk into a room, discuss some ideas from the ideation phase, and have staff iterate the idea and come up with feasible MVPs for the quarter.

Yet for another client, I had to develop a customized framework to accommodate their unique situation, making their prep work all the more important.

During a planning session, if you hear a lot of “I don’t know” blockers that could prevent you from moving forward, it’s an indication that more prep work is needed.

Keep reading:
Agile Transformation: Are You Ready?
The Scrum Guide is Dead — Long Live the Scrum Guide!
Tracking and Resolving Software Regressions


Quarterly Agile Planning


David Highbarger

Principal Agile Coach

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