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Building a Program Board during PI Planning

The Program Board in Jira Align displays the status of Features, Dependencies, Objectives and Milestones all on one view. It's a great tool for the Program team to review on a weekly basis to make sure all the work is progressing as expected, but it's also an excellent way for the all the teams to check in during the PI Planning process to make sure all the teams are aligned.

The Program Board during a Program Increment

The picture below shows how the Program Board might look a couple weeks into the plan. Features and objectives are being completed, dependencies are being delivered, and you can see work that teams are going to do but haven't yet planned. 

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 3.04.31 PM.png

Program Board during Remote Planning Sessions

Now let's take a look at how to use the Program Board during the planning session. This is especially useful when everyone can't be in the same room, looking at Post-It notes on a wall. 

Usually the teams will have done some planning before the PI Planning Session and will have started thinking about the features that will be worked on. Product Owners may have already started writing stories for the high-priority features for the upcoming iteration.

 In order to see which features are planned in the planning cycle, you need to go to the Program Board and pick Extra Configs and turn on Unassigned Features. That way you can see all the Features that teams have already written stories for along with all the Features that do not yet have stories. This is shown below:

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 3.01.26 PM.png

Once that switch is set, you can see the Program Board with all the features. (In this example below, let's assume none of the teams have started writing stories.)

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 3.15.09 PM.png

(In these screen shots, we're looking at the small view of the Features. You can change the view to see larger Feature icons with more details by clicking the View Icon in the upper right.)

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 3.20.56 PM.png


Each team can look at the features that are planned and decide if they will contribute stories. The teams that will contribute can identify themselves on by clicking on the specific feature. 

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 3.17.18 PM.png

Once the teams have identified themselves, the board can be updated and it will look like the same below:

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 3.18.53 PM.png

As each team goes through and lays out its own plan for how it will deliver its work, it can update the Feature with the target sprint for when it will be done with all its stories. (Read my colleague Rob Phillips excellent article about using the Sprint Iteration view in the Team Backlog to see how to lay out a plan.)

You can bring the whole team together to look at the Program Board as each team is planning out its work. We assume each team is confident about what is going to do in the very next sprint, and there's decreasing levels of confidence as we move further out. However, it's worth taking a look at the plan as it is being laid out. If some or all the teams are finishing all their work in the last sprint, that's a warning sign. 

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 3.24.51 PM.png

After the teams have laid out their initial plans, then it is time to start adding in dependencies between teams and identifying any risks that may exist in the plan.

When all the teams can't be in the same room, taking an occasional glance at the Program Board helps everyone see the progress being made. It helps identify warning signs early in the process and points out where the folks on different teams may need to work together to coordinate their plans.




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