An online PI Planning event will never be like a physical event. And especially not when you have to gather 50-150 people virtually. But you can still create the same value online as you can in-person – and maybe even more! You just have to be aware of the challenges and the ways you can adapt your event to overcome them.
Your everyday life can be flipped upside down overnight. Most of Denmark experienced this on Wednesday March 11, 2020, when the Prime Minister locked down the country following the COVID-19 outbreak. And even though many modern workplaces can rely on remote working, events like PI Planning and other big key events suffer, due to bans on assembly, chains of infection and closed borders. The two RTEs Will Coffey and Nina Budde Hansen learned this the hard way, when they with 2 days’ notice, had to change their PI Planning events from physical to virtual. At the webinar “Experiences with online SAFe® PI Planning” on March 26, our consultant Jonas Högstrand discussed the 6 most important lessons from the first month of lockdown.
1. The tools must be in place
Whiteboards, post-its and flipovers are replaced with pixels on a screen.
And this can easily put a stop to the stream of input and ideas from your team-members. Because of this, you as an RTE need to be in control of which virtual tools you have to use and when. Become familiar with online workshop tools like Miro and Mentimeter. Use Sli.do or Kahoot to engage and ensure ongoing feedback. And make sure that everyone knows how to use to the agile planning tool you have chosen in the ART, such as Azure DevOps or Jira.
2. Individual preparation must be prioritized
You should do more than just ‘show up’ for an online event.
All participants are responsible for the event going smoothly. Let them know, that they need a wired internet connection, are responsible for their own catering, and that they should have their charger plugged in. It requires more practical preparation for the individual, but it is absolutely necessary in order to have a frictionless process, without an unstable connection or accidental blackouts.
3. Make an extensive plan and communicate it
It requires precise coordination to facilitate hundreds of people virtually.
So, make sure you have an extensive plan for when you should be in a shared meeting room and when the individual teams are separated into breakout rooms. Moreover, you need to be good at letting people know when the ART-members and business owners will visit the teams in the individual breakout rooms.
4. Online provides greater accessibility and better understanding
Even though the distance between us is greater, online PI Planning events can bring the professional content closer to the individual participant.
First and foremost, we all have equal opportunity to attend, and the individual preparations ensure focused, effective and uninterrupted PI Planning. At Ørsted, the participants reported back that they found the Program Board to be far more accessible online, and they were therefore given a greater overall understanding.
5. The informal atmosphere is challenged
Effective and focused work can unfortunately come at the cost of social interaction.
This is the case with any virtual meet-up, but at planning events it can be especially detrimental, if the informal dialogue is lost. As RTE it is therefore important to prepare different gimmicks like voting, games etc. which ensure a relaxed and informal atmosphere at your event.
6. Attitude is everything!
One of the most valuable insights was how much the right attitude matters.
Even though the task can seem immense, it is important that all participants know that they can succeed. It is just a matter of figuring out how. In this instance, it is an extra mental exercise for you as a facilitator to accept, that you cannot control everything. When 100 people check in from 100 different locations, unexpected things will happen. Accept them.
Watch or re-watch the webinar here
You can get even more insights and tips from the experts themselves, when you watch or re-watch the webinar Experiences with online SAFe® PI planning: