Kanban Planning – part 2

In the previous article we talked about implementing feedback loops in Kanban. If you haven’t read it yet – you can do it here. Last time you’ve learned about two Kanban cadences:

  1. Daily Kanban
  2. Queue replenishment and commitment meeting

These meetings are amazing to start your evolutionary journey. As you’re getting more maturity it’s time to take your practices to the next level. Today you will have a chance to learn about one of the 2 left practices that can be implemented on the team level. Ready for this journey?

Today a little more about Delivery Planning Meeting. You can compare this particular meeting to Release Planning with additional feedback loops.

Aim?

The goal of this meeting is to plan deliveries to customer. At the same time it is crucial to go beyond planning and to add to this exercise monitoring (definitely a little bit more often than once per release). You probably had a chance to see the picture showing relation between different Kanban Cadences. This one is connected with Daily Meeting. It means that information from Daily Meeting are one to be used as inputs for this meeting. Additionally, results from Delivery Planning Meeting should be communicated and visible to all who attend Daily Meeting.

Why to focus?

First of all planning exercise creates bigger picture and shared-understanding about current delivery situation. Of course plans can change – but what matters here is planning. There is a nice quotation about planning told by  Eisenhower in November 1957 “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” What’s more, this meeting helps building solid trust bridge between delivery team and their downstream (parties who receive and accept the delivery).  Having understanding about upcoming delivery they can better prepare themselves but what’s even more important they can make a decision about delivery. Third reason why it’s important to run such a meeting is that this is a second commitment point of a Kanban System. It means that this is a chance for the delivery team to self-organize and commit about delivery. Remember to not use “gut-feeling” method here but scientific thinking that relays on data. Especially great tool for making nice forecasting is for instance a Monte Carlo method.

Who should attend?

Any interested parties. From my experience I suggest to invite delivery team, downstream representatives and people who can make decisions about delivery (if different that downstream group). Additionally, in original Kanban materials you can find information about a role called service delivery manager (SDM). If you have someone holding this role – invite her/him. To be honest, I’ve never had a chance to see this in practice and yet without this person Service Delivery Meeting can happen and have an amazing results. What you need though is a neat facilitator. Someone who understands situation but also knows how to facilitate such meeting. He/She should be aware of inputs and outputs of such a meeting. For instance, in teams using Scrum in Kanban approach this role can be fulfilled by Scrum Master.

How often?

It depends on the planned delivery cadence. If your team delivers very often, let’s say once a week, it would be highly recommended to perform this meeting at least once a week. But remember sometimes costs are higher than the revenue. Be conscious!

Agenda?

During the meeting it’s very useful to have a chance to look in Kanban Board and team’s metrics. This helps to review the current state of the work items and forecast the delivery date according to our SLA agreements. Sometimes you can observe that it is unlikely to finish some particular items in order to make a date. This a very good point for discussion. First of all, attendees need to understand impact of not delivering such items. If this impact is highly not acceptable then you need to dive into details and start discussing different options to make this happen. Sometimes the solution is to discuss the delivery date (you should have representative of those who can make decision). Sometimes it’s all about “bullet-train-thinking”. The role of facilitator is to support group to revise different ideas in order to come to one consensus.

Output?

This is a a concrete data about the delivery (commitment)- which items will be delivered. Based on the made decisions probably during upcoming Daily Meeting the team will need to adjust their delivery plan, sometimes even changing class of service for particular items. Definitely the goal after the meeting is to make sure that everyone understands the goal and have a clear idea on what’s the next step.

Tips & Tricks

To make it a good meeting you need to invite a lot of interested parties. Especially in big organizations at a very beginning it’s sometimes hard to make. Don’t worry, Kanban is all about evolution. Start with something and adjust it on the way!

by KateWait