Is management requesting planning sheets in which you give them insights on what you deliver and when?
There are a couple of problems with classic planning approach. And there is an alternative which connects better with an Agile approach.
Let’s briefly go over the issues with the classic approach regarding planning.
These plans are timelines that show when deliverables need to be produced. The deliverables are part of the product and yes, they probably need to be produced. Otherwise you can’t create a product. The problem starts when you want to indicate a point in the future where you produce or release the deliverables. Therefor you need to estimate all the different deliverables. And this is the biggest issue in this classic planning approach. Many blogpost are written about estimating and predicting. I wrote an article about it as well.
Next to that, management requesting these classic plans, are interested in how much work you and your team can do. And it could very well be a KPI within your organisation, with all its consequences.
I sincerely hope you’ll agree with me when I say that classic plans and their KPI’s are outdated.
Even when you perfectly follow the plan and deliver what you put down in that sheet, the output you’re delivering does not say anything about how the product is received by the customer or whether it adds value. You’re missing the outcome in your plan.
The alternative takes outcome into account.
A plan should reflect outcome instead of output. Outcome is something that has value. Value to your users, your company, your stakeholders. And when I say reflect, I mean that outcome should be your deliverable.
If you have a Product Goal, use this in your plan. If you do not have a Product Goal, get one.
Let’s look at an example.
The Product Goal is: stock availability increase to 95%.
So the increase of this stock availability is the ultimate goal for you and your team. Everything you do with your team is about this goal. All of the features, experiments, A/B tests, hypotheses validations, UX researches, etc have the purpose to increase this number.
The Product Goal is the one thing you and your team are aiming for. So replace that classic planning with one that is focused around this Product Goal. Use actionable metrics and start updating your management with the numbers that reflect outcome.
The time you spend on planning can be better used to build and then validate your assumptions.
When you’re in a situation where management is asking for detailed classical planning, provide them this alternative and keep them updated through out the entire process.