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Facilitating a PI Planning Team Breakout Virtually in Jira Align

One of the main benefits of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Program Increment (PI) Planning event is face-to-face planning in a "big room" with all the teams on an Agile Release Train (ART). However, in the age of digital transformation teams are becoming more geographically distributed across multiple locations and timezones. Also unforeseen challenges such as budget and financial constraints or travel restrictions can make it difficult to bring teams together for “big room” planning.

Jira Align can help facilitate team planning virtually for developing sprint (iteration) plans and capturing risks, dependencies, PI objectives, milestones and the final PI plan. To effectively facilitate a team breakout virtually with Jira Align it is recommended that a reliable web/video conferencing software is required to share Jira Align and Jira views among team members.

Planning Sprints (Iterations)

Typically during PI Planning, scrum teams plan sprints on wall charts and story cards. To accomplish this virtually, teams can do this in 3 ways through: Jira Backlog, Jira Align Backlog Kanban - Sprint View, or Story Maps.

When deciding which option is best to use for planning sprints the following factors should be considered:

  • Do teams use Jira Align or Jira to do sprint planning?

  • Is it important for teams to plan using a visual radiator with color-coded story cards?

Jira Backlog

Teams that normally conduct sprint planning during a PI using the Jira backlog can use the Jira backlog for planning sprints in PI Planning.

Jira Backlog.png

Jira Align Backlog Kanban - Sprint View

If teams use Jira Align for sprint planning, teams can use the Backlog Kanban - Sprint View accessed through the Story Backlog.

Backlog Kanban.png

For information on the Backlog Kanban - Sprint View check out the Atlassian Community article by @Rob Phillips Using Jira Align’s “Backlog Kanban – Sprint View” to Visualize SAFe’s Day 1 PI Planning event.

Story Maps

If it is important for teams to plan sprints in a similar fashion as using wall charts and color-coded story cards, Story Maps provide an option that enables teams to replicate planning in this manner. For information on how to use Story Maps, check out the Story Maps article on the Jira Align Knowledge Base.

When creating a Story Map in Jira Align, create columns for each sprint (iteration) in the PI. The team capacity (velocity) and load may be added to the column name if used during PI Planning. Instead of color-coded story cards, rows are used to categorize story types (Stories, Maintenance, Exploration Enabler and Infrastructure) and a similar color-coding schema that SAFe recommends for stories cards can be assigned.

Story Map 1.png

During a team breakout, teams add stories to sprints (columns) and story type (rows) on the Story Map. Stories can be edited, estimated, and assigned to sprints through the Story slide out accessed by clicking on a story on the Story Map.

Story Map 2.png


Jira Align does not associate risks to teams which can make it difficult to filter the Risk Grid when presenting team risks for the Draft and Final Plan Reviews. To understand how to create team risks in Jira Align check out the Atlassian Community article by @Tom O_Connor Create Team Risks in Jira Align.

Team Risk.png


Jira Align enables a team to create a dependency on another team and for teams to commit to the dependency they agreed upon during the team breakout. For more information on how to use dependencies in Jira Align, check out the Dependency Overview and Dependency Type article on the Jira Align Knowledge Base.


PI Objectives & Milestones

During the team breakouts scrum teams compose and refine PI objectives in Jira Align. On Day 2, the business owner/stakeholder updates the PI objectives within Jira Align with the Planned Value (scale of 1 to 10). Critical milestones (e.g. trade show, product launch, etc.) are captured using the objectives but with Type = Roadmap Milestone. For more information on how to use objectives check out the Create Objectives article on the Jira Align Knowledge Base.

 Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 2.42.19 PM.png

Program Board

To set the final plan on the Program Board using Jira Align, teams assign a sprint to the Team Target Completion Sprints field to features on the Program Board. For more information on setting up the Program Board during PI Planning check out @Rich Sparks's article, Building a Program Board during PI Planning.

Program Board.png

Also for more information about the Program Board, dependency management, and objectives check out Caz's article on the Atlassian Community, Jira Align for Release Train Engineers.



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