Agile planning: step-by-step guide and template (2023)

Overwhelmingly, the world is becoming agile - a huge one71% of organizationshave adopted agile planning methods and 60% of these companies have increased their profits as a result.

In this article, we'll dive deeper into the approach and its processes so you can apply it to your own workflows. Are you looking for an answer to a specific question? Click on the links below to navigate to the following sections:

+What is agile planning?

+4 essential agile components

+The agile planning process: step by step

+Agile planning model

For those who want more of a step-by-step guide, let's define the term first.

What is agile planning?

agile planningIt is a project management style with an incremental and iterative approach. Rather than using a detailed plan from the beginning of the project - which is typically product-related - Agile leaves room for changing requirements and relies on constant feedback from end users.

Over a defined period of time, cross-functional teams work on product iterations and achieveRS ok(goals and main deliverables), organizing your work in backlogs with a focus on value creation. The ultimate goal of each iteration is to create a working design.

(Video) 2 Steps to Master Agile Scrum Sprint Planning: Template, Checklist & Tips (YOU Might Not Know THIS)

One of the most popular agile planning strategies is Scrum. Next, let's take a quick look at Scrum and what it means.


The Scrum approach to planning - How to start thinking agile

In this section, we only cover Scrum lightly. You'll see a lot of overlap between Scrum and Agile, so we'll keep it short here.

As mentioned above, Scrum follows the agile planning methodology.

The main difference between Scrum and Agile is that while Agile is a project management style, Scrum is just one of several approaches to following this framework. As with agile planning, your goal is to create a functional product that provides value to the user.

In the Scrum approach there is a lot of room for continuous changes and adjustments to user needs and ever-changing markets. Here is a brief introduction of how it works:

Scrum relies on sprints (more on that below) to work on product fixes, updates, new features, requirements, and so on. As with agile planning, this is called the product backlog. Every few weeks, the team selects a few backlog items to work on in the next sprint. Throughout the sprint, the team participates in events (called ceremonies) where the team:

  • Plan each sprint and decide what to achieve in the next sprint
  • Gets team members on the same page and voices any concerns that might be blocking progress
  • Meet at the end of the sprint to see a demo and see what they've accomplished
  • They meet after the end of each sprint to talk about what worked well and what didn't so they can improve the process in the future. It's called a retrospective.

We'll detail some of these phases below as we explore Agile in more depth in the following sections, starting with its essential characteristics.

(Video) Intro to Agile Planning


Take your agile planning to the next level!

Agile planning: step-by-step guide and template (1) Start

Agile planning: step-by-step guide and template (2)

4 essentialsCharacteristics of agile planning

Before using any project planning methods like Kanban boards, Gantt charts or Scrum, it is important to understand the basics. Here are the four essential Agile characteristics you need to know.

1. An agile project plan is divided into releases and sprints

Agile planners define a release as the creation of a new product or a significant update to an existing product. Each version is divided into several so-called iterationsrace. Each sprint has a fixed duration, typically two weeks, and the team has a predefined list of items to work on each sprint. Work items are calleduser stories.

The release plan is divided into several iterations (sprints) that contain user stories (items).

Agile planning: step-by-step guide and template (3)

2. Planning is based on user stories

As mentioned above, auser historyIt is an item that meets the needs of the users. For example:

(Video) How to Create an Agile Project Plan in Excel: Agile Project Plan Template

  • "As a team member, I need to know which tasks are currently assigned to me."
  • "As a team leader, I need to get an email notification when a task is stalled or overdue."

Unlike the traditionalMethods of project managementifwaterfall, where teams would create detailed technical specifications of exactly what they would build, in agile planning the team just documentswhat the user needs. As the sprint progresses, the team figures out how best to meet that specific need, which brings us to the next feature.

3. Planning is iterative and incremental

All sprints are the same length, and an agile team repeats the same process multiple times (like the ceremonies we described in the Scrum section) in each sprint. Each sprint should result in working features that can be deployed to end users.

An iterative process allows the team to learn what they are capable of, estimate how many stories they can complete in a given time,and discover problems that are hindering your progress. These issues can be resolved in subsequent sprints.

4. The estimation is done by the team members themselves

A core ethic of Agile planning is that development teams should participate in planning and estimation rather than management deciding the scope of work. At this stage, agile planning allows teams to determine the complexity of user stories to bring a plan to fruition. Inagile methodology, the process of defining the complexity of the work is called the story point.

For example, a team may award 1 point for a simple user story, 2-3 points for a moderately complex story, and 4-5 points for a great story—based on their understanding of the work involved.

Now that we know what elements you need for an Agile plan, let's look at how you would create yours.


The agile project planning process

To better understand how you would create an Agile schedule or project plan, we have created a step-by-step list of what you need to do. After we have discussed the goals for the launch - what problem do we want to solve or how do we improve the user experience? - You can use the following to plan your launch.

  1. discuss what is necessaryCharacteristicsto achieve the goals. What components would make using the product even easier? What are users missing? What would you like to see?
  2. discuss the detailsinvolved in each feature and factors that may affect delivery. This includes the required infrastructure, risks and external dependencies. Features with the highest risk and highest value should be scheduled early in the release.
  3. Decide how much workYou can commit any sprint as a team. This is usually based on the team's speed in previous sprints. You must consider existing infrastructure or tooling work and known disruptions such as support work.
  4. List the stories and epicsbecause of its size for release. OneEposIt's a larger development task broken up into multiple user stories.
  5. add iterationinto the plan so teams know what they will be working on over the next two weeks.
  6. Add stories to the iterationuntil reaching the maximum capacity.
  7. Add more iterationsuntil all user stories are covered, or remove lower priority user stories to accommodate the timeframe required for launch.
  8. share the planwith yourAgile management software of choiceand ask for feedback to gain support from all team members, product owners, and other stakeholders.

The above is about setting the schedule, but you still need a plan of attack for actual sprints. Let's see what that means.

(Video) How to Create an Agile Project Plan in Excel: Agile Project Plan Template

sprint planning process

Here's how an agile team plans a new sprint as part of an existing release plan:

  1. Host a retrospective meetingdiscuss previous sprints andlessons learned.
  2. run aSprintplanungmeetto review the release schedule and update it based on the speed of recent sprints, changing priorities, new features, or downtime not planned at launch.
  3. Make sure user stories are detailed enoughin ... works. Work out tasks that are not well defined to avoid surprises.
  4. Break down user stories into specific tasks. For example, the “Show Tasks Assigned to Me” user story can be divided into UX design of a “My Tasks Screen”, backend implementation and frontend interface development. Keep the task size small, no more than a day's work.
  5. Assign tasks to team membersand confirm that they are committed to their implementation. In theAgile/Scrum-FrameworkThis is done by the Scrum Master.
  6. Write tasks on sticky (physical) cardsand hang them on a large board for the entire team to see. All user stories in the current sprint must be on the board.
  7. Track the progress of all tasksin a grid that records who is responsible for completing each task, the estimated time to complete it, the hours remaining, and the actual hours spent. This time tracking needs to be updated by all team members and visible to everyone.
  8. Track velocity using a burndown chart.During the sprint, use team time tracking to calculate a chart showing the number of tasks or hours remaining against the plan. The slope of the burndown chart shows whether we are on schedule, ahead of schedule, or behind schedule.

Agile planning: step-by-step guide and template (4)

During the sprint, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page and that teams are communicating issues or potential issues. This is the purpose of the daily meeting.

Daily daily meeting

Once you have the schedule set and your sprint planned, gather the entire team from the start of the sprint and have all team members report their status. These meetings consist of a few components:

  • Daily agile planning meetingsare commonlyconstant meetingsto promote brevity.
  • They have a maximum duration of 15 minutes.
  • Each member has a maximum of one minute to report 'what I did yesterday', 'what I'm going to do today', 'what's standing in my way' if the task is completed on time.
  • The task status can only be "complete" or "incomplete," and if it's not complete, team members must report how many hours remain until completion.
  • Obstacles encountered by team members should be briefly identified and discussed further in the appropriate forum.
  • The Scrum Master or Release Manager is responsible for coordinating and supporting team members in overcoming obstacles.

We released a lot of information about how to plan, schedule, and execute stand-ups during the sprint. That's a lot to process, but just imagine what it could be like. Because of this, many teams use Work Operating Software (Work OS) to run their projects, communicate with team members, and track all updates in real time.


Use of a team management tool for agile planning

A team management tool can help you define user stories at launch, organize them into sprints, assign them to team members, and track real-time progress from anywhere. Here's a quick look at what this might look like on a working operating system.

Agile planning: step-by-step guide and template (5)

While is more than a team management tool, thousands of teams rely on our Work OS as their primaryAgile project management toolcarry out all kinds of projects transparently and continuously. You use montag.comworking operating systemfor:

  • Get a clear understanding of priorities and estimates, and easily track transformation in reports and dashboards
  • Plan sprints realistically with multiple visual options to help them see team capacity, individual capacity, user history status, and more.
  • Colorful, customizable statuses let you quickly know if something is paused, in progress, or behind schedule.
  • Sync entire teams across timelines and milestones so everyone can tag another teammate in a story or user status so everyone stays in the loop.
  • View bug and feature ownership with customizable dashboards that let you filter by person, item, date, bug, and more.
  • Put all useful documents, materials, and notes on a board and provide each with a source of truth.
  • Easily change tasks as needed with our drag-and-drop features to reflect user requests or product changes.

All of this is just the beginning of what you can achieve at

(Video) SAFe PI Planning or Program Increment

Use for effortless agile planning

The agile planning framework and iterative approach to work make it the perfect match for product teams and many industries alike, although any team can use this method.

Once you understand how to use and maintain this methodology, you'll take your agile planning to the next's Work OS - Not only do you always have a clear view of each sprint, but you can also reinforce agile principles like transparency and agility every step of the way.



What are the 5 lifecycle steps of an agile project? ›

The beauty of Agile is realized throughout a series of five stages, known as the software development lifecycle (SDLC): Ideation, development, testing, deployment, and operations.

What are the 6 levels of planning in agile? ›

Agile Planning (a.k.a. planning onion) has 6 levels - Strategy, Portfolio, Release, Iteration, Daily, and Continuous.

What are the 7 steps of project planning? ›

Tip 1: Establish clear goals for the project
  • Preventing scope creep, which means keeping the scope of the project from growing.
  • Staying within a given budget.
  • Completing all aspects of the project.
  • Providing quality work.
  • Completing work on time.
  • Securing the right resources in advance.
Feb 8, 2019

What are the 10 project planning steps? ›

Project planning includes the following 10 steps:
  • Define stakeholders. Stakeholders include anyone with an interest in the project. ...
  • Define roles. Each stakeholder's role should be clearly defined. ...
  • Introduce stakeholders. ...
  • Set goals. ...
  • Prioritize tasks. ...
  • Create a schedule. ...
  • Assess risks. ...
  • Communicate.

What are the 3 C's in agile? ›

The three Cs stand for Card, Conversation and Confirmation and in this article, I'm going to discuss each of the elements, explaining why, and how to ensure you're doing it right. I'll also scatter in a few tips from my experiences with agile teams.

What are the 3 C's in an agile story? ›

These 3 C's are Cards, Conversation, and Confirmation. These are essential components for writing a good User Story. The Card, Conversation, and Confirmation model was introduced by Ron Jefferies in 2001 for Extreme Programming (XP) and is suitable even today.

What are the 4 pillars of agile? ›

What are the 4 pillars of Agile?
  • 1: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • 2: Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • 3: Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • 4: Responding to change over following a plan.

What are the 3 levels of planning used by Agile teams? ›

  • Product Vision. Product Vision is the long term outcome that the product aims for. ...
  • Roadmap. Roadmap is a plan on how the product should evolve to achieve the above vision. ...
  • Release Plan. The Release Plan defines the list of features that will be delivered in the decided timeline. ...
  • Iteration Plan. ...
  • Daily Standup.
May 18, 2021

What are the 6 steps and each meaning in making a project plan? ›

Step 1: Identify and meet with stakeholders. Step 2: Set and prioritize goals. Step 3: Define deliverables. Step 4: Create the project schedule. Step 5: Identify issues and complete a risk assessment.

What are the 5 steps in making project plan? ›

How to write a project plan in 5 steps
  1. Step 1: Define your project. ...
  2. Step 2: Identify risks, assumptions, and constraints. ...
  3. Step 3: Organize the people for your project. ...
  4. Step 4: List your project resources. ...
  5. Step 5: Establish a project communications plan.
May 29, 2019


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