Using Digital PI Planning

Configuration

Step 1: Click “Configure”, and “Trains” Click “New Train” and add a new Agile Release Train (ART) :

Through extensive testing, we have found the most effective configuration of JIRA for SAFe is to align a JIRA project with a single ART. To read more about this configuration, visit our article at this link.  Select your corresponding project, and then select the teams (boards) that will make up your train.

Step 2: Digital PI Planning can be used outside of Jira as well, using https://digitalsafe.scaledlabs.com. Every instance of the application comes with a generic user, “user@[yoursubdomain].atlassian.net” that allows your teams to access PI planning digitally from their phones, tablets, or other devices. All they will need is the password you can generate from the “Public Access” tab:

Click “Generate Password” to get a randomly generated password that can be distributed to your teams. Every time ‘Generate Password’ is clicked, the password will be reset for all users, so it may be updated on a schedule for security considerations.

​You’re configured! Now you can use digitalSafe through the main application, available in the Project context view of JIRA, labeled ‘Digital PI Planning’

Usage from within Jira

Navigate to Digital PI Planning from the Projects context in JIRA by clicking the “Digital PI Planning” link:

The cloud version (ie not installed on your server) of Digital PI Planning is available through the public site https://digitalsafe.scaledlabs.com. This can be useful for PI planning to make the application accessible to those that are either not familar or not set up to use Jira, available for navigation and participation through hand held devices. The application behaves exactly the same, including the real-time updates to issues and boards that occur when changes are made by participants everywhere. The username and password supplied in the Configuration section when you install your application the first time are what should be supplied for users to access your particular instance in the cloud (ie username like user@[subdomain].atlassian.net, password is a 10 character random generated value).

Setting up a Program Increment (PI)

  1. On arriving for the first time, you’ll see nothing but a “New” button – which you click to create a new Program Increment (PI). You’ll now see a navigator like this:

2. Where our navigator says “click to name”, do exactly that to name your PI.

We’ll cover “Lock PI” a little later in the manual. You Iteration Start date should be the date your iterations start, not your PI planning. the PI planning date is set in the agenda, coming next. The number of iterations, when changed, will overwrite all the existing iterations if either the number of iterations or the iteration start date changes – so be careful not to change this during PI planning unless you intend to start from scratch!

3.Every PI needs an Agenda! Click on the Agenda button to create your agenda either from scratch or by importing the 2 day (no Inspect and Adapt session) or 3 day (including Inspect and Adapt) session templates to get you started. You can include links to presentation files making it easier to find them on the big day.

4. ​What’s a PI without Features? From the main Increments window, click Features, and “Pull Features from JIRA” to import all of your “Epic” issue types into the screen. You can remove ones that don’t make the initial cut by clicking the “Remove” link (don’t worry, this does not remove them from JIRA – only your planning session!), and with what you’re left with, you can perform Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) analysis to cull further. Be sure to click “Save” to save those WSJF values!

5.Once you’ve completed planning your features and your agenda, you’re ready for PI Planning! You’ll see all your planned features by clicking “Boards” and selecting “Backlog”. 

Navigating the Boards

Unassigned Features

Features should be small enough to be delivered by a single team in one PI. You may also add new features from this board, which will be created as Feature issue types in Jira when they are sync’ed at the end of PI planning. Create a new feature by clicking the “+” sign at the right of the view:

To assign a feature to a team, simply click the feature and assign to a team you included in step 2. *Note* If you’re wondering why a feature can’t be assigned to two teams – that’s not a best practice! :

Team View

  • Features will appear on a team board after assigned to a team as per above. There are three sub-sections of each team board, which are accessed via the drop-down menu “Select View”.

The default view for a team is the “Feature” view, which displays the features assigned to the team vertically, with the supporting stories laid out horizontally next to the feature, boxed by the iterations. To add a story to an iteration in support of a feature, simply click the “+” sign in the corresponding box. To add a summary, description, or story points estimate to that story, click on the sticky note and update the story accordingly.

The story delivered against a feature in the latest iteration will determine where the feature eventually resides on the Program board – for example if the Feature “Make Donuts” has a story in iteration 4, but not in iteration 5, the Feature “Make Donuts” will automatically appear on the Program board in iteration 4. If the story is moved to iteration 3, the Feature will automatically update to iteration 3 on the Program board.

The next view in a team board is for Objectives, which are used to estimate and track business value for a team. The view and use of this board is largely the same as others, the only difference being the business value is shown on the sticky note view without having to click in.

The last view for a team is the ‘Risks’ view – in which a team can list the risks associated with their delivery. As before, new risks are added with the “+” sign at the far right of the board.

Program

The Program board is the central information radiator for a PI planning session, showing the delivery of all features across teams, aligned with Milestones, and shown with dependency graphs.

The only editing done on a Program board is to add Milestones (click the “+” sign in the Milestones swimlane), or to add dependencies between features (click on a feature and select the depenency from the drop down list). To toggle the dependency lines, simply click on “Hide Dependencies” (alternate “Show Dependencies”) at the top of the Program board .

Risks

A key component of PI planning is to perform ‘Risk ROAMing’, the process of identifying and categorizing risks to delivery into the categories Resolved, Owned, Accepted, and Mitigated. Using the same methodology as the other board views, the Risk board presents these four categories, plus a “Not ROAMed” category where new risks are entered prior to being categorized:

Again, the ““+” sign allows new risks to be added, and clicking on a risk sticky note and changing its category moves it between the different sections.

Retrospective

An ART can’t complete a PI planning session without a Retrospective – what to do more of, and what to do less of. Here again, the same now-familiar tooling for creating new Retrospective items and categorizing accordingly:

Locking

Once you have completed PI Planning, you can navigate back to the PI selector screen and select ‘lock’, which will close many elements your PI from any future edits, such as the Agenda, Risks, Objectives, and Milestones. However, since your issues are all ‘live’ in Jira, any changes made to the issue summaries, descriptions, story points, or planned sprint in Jira will automatically reflect in your PI Planning boards, regardless of locked status.