December 22, 2016

Agile Project Planning : 6 Project Plan Templates

Are you not sure if you need agile or waterfall project management methodology? Do projects at your company often come up short? Are you and your team constantly taking two steps forward only to take another back? If you’d love to overhaul your approach into something more efficient, agile project management is the solution.  Below, we’re going to discuss what this method entails – step by step – and show you a project plan examples. 


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Agile Project Plan MS Project

Agile Project Plan Excel Template

The project plan template in Excel and MS Project which can be used for any general software development project run in an agile fashion. The project plan has the following high level phases - User Stories, Product Backlog,  High Level Sprint Planning, actual Sprints and then Project Close. Under the user stories the tasks are to identify key stakeholders, form a project team, conduct workshops and then finally do a walk through of the user stories. 

Then we move on to finalizing the product backlog. Finalizing the product back log involves creating the backlog and estimating the items a.k.a PBI (Product Backlog Items). Once the backlog is ready then the product owner and prioritize the items in the backlog. Once the backlog is in place we move on to planning sprints and for each of the sprints we look at resourcing, a scope or timeline and then also look at the budget.  

For each of the sprints we will plan when we will do the Sprint planning, actual work in the sprints, a demo date in which the team will showcase the work done. Once the team is ready to deploy the code  built we then plan the implementation. Finally, a sprint review and retrospective to under what went well and what should we change. The last step in the project is to close the project by conducting project review and lessons learnt report.

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Agile Project Plan Excel Template

Agile Software Development Project Plan

The Software Development Project Plan is managed in an excel file, and has information regarding the start / end dates of each task, its priority, owner and status, and comments. The tasks are split up into 5 sprints, where each one has similar characteristics. These phases are – Requirement Mapping, Feature Designing, Code Writing, Quality Assurance and User Testing.

The requirement mapping phase maps out the overall needs of the project, which features it will include and which problem it aims at solving for the client. Feature designing phase explains which features will be included in the final result of the project, in respect to the interface, reporting, AI (Artificial Intelligence), etc. and the response time for the users. Feature design includes all the features which were mapped out in the previous phase need to be coded, and this phase handles that. 

In code writing phase the code is written according to the characterization of the features in the previous phase. The code which was written needs to pass an elementary quality threshold, and this phase defines that threshold, and makes sure that the code stands up to that standard. User Testing involves providing feedback for the coding team. This feedback will map out the fixes and new features which are required.

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Agile Software Development Plan

Agile Website Development Project Plan

The website plan is managed in an excel file, and has information regarding the start / end dates of each task, its priority, owner and status, and comments. The tasks are split up into 5 sprints, where each one has similar characteristics. These phases are – Look & Feel, Infrastructure, Site UX (User Experience), Coding and Beta Testing. Look & Feel phase sets the basic parameters of each site: The font size, positioning of the pictures and written content, banner size, links placement, pop-ups, etc. The first task is the site mock-up, and this shows the potential users how the site will appear once completed. Infrastructure phase consists of the configuration of the site on the servers of the company / clients, setting the domain of the site, and all activities that have to do with the site’s platform. S

ite UX (User Experience) phase sets the stage regarding what the potential users of the site will see, and how their interaction with the site will be. It defines the required response times (For example: 0.3 seconds to transition to a new page once the user clicked on a link), and the testing parameters which will be used internally for the initial testing sequences. Coding phase outlines how the code will be written, which features will exist in the site and how it will be tested. During Beta Testing the site is deemed well enough for testing by users who had no part in the development process, it is released to a few choice users. The tasks in this phase define how it will be done, how the data will be collected and analysed.

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Agile Website Project Plan

SAP Agile Project Plan Sample

The SAP project contains the projects’ planned tasks, along with their start & end dates, the owner, status and priority, and comments. The plan is split into six sprints; each one represents the different phase of the implementation of the new system. These sprints are – Impact analysis, Design and Build, Infrastructure, Change Management and Data Migration.

Impact analysis phase maps out the requirements of the new system, who will be using it and what their required permissions are, and is aimed at resolving any issues that may come up with the transition to the new system. In the Design and Build phase all of the specifications of the new system are mapped out and written out on storyboards, and the design of the system is completed. Testing all of the specifications which were mapped out in the previous phase are tested in this one, as well as the connectivity to the legacy systems. Infrastructure phase is when the required hardware is purchased in this phase, as well as setting up the environments for testing and production.

All of the security measures all also configured and installed as part of this phase. Change Management is needed for each new system involves changes, which many users are naturally opposed to. This phase manages the change in how things are done (the SOP - Standard Operating Procedures), maps out the super (first) users and conducts training to diminish the objections. Data Migration is required once the system is set up, the information from the legacy system needs to be transferred. This phase manages that, and includes writing the code of the SAP modules.

sap agile project plan template
SAP Agile Project Plan

Agile Release Plan Template

The release plan is often called “Sprint Zero”, due to the fact that it occurs before any specific product needs to be delivered. This sprint is the basis for the sprints in the product’s lifecycle, and the initial plan is laid out in it. This allows the team members to focus on the goal of the release, its features and their start / end dates. Once these features are agreed upon, they are allocated to a sprint and their goal is clearly stated. 

If any of the features aren’t necessary or the team are unclear on how to implement them, they will be marked as “unplanned” in the “Sprint” column. In the plan there is also a “Status” column. Each features’ status may be – Initialized: the feature is in process of planning, and has started to be worked on. Assigned: the feature is assigned to a team (not to a specific team member). Planned: the feature is currently unassigned, but has a time-frame for being completed. 

As with any agile plan, the release plan is prone to changes if new stories are added or existing ones are deleted. After the release plan is finalized and agreed upon, it will serve the team members and the project manager to track the completion of the features, sprints and the entire project. It will also be a baseline timeline for the project, and will be updated throughout its lifecycle. If any new stories or features are required after the product has been defined and the project began, they will be added to the release plan.

agile release plan template excel
Agile Release Plan

Agile Project Planning Process

The strength of using an agile project management approach is that is incredibly simple yet still produces amazing results. While you’ll definitely get better at it the more you use it, creating an agile project plan takes five simple steps:

Create the User Story
In the user story phase, you’re simply answering the question, “What does the user/customer want?” and doing so in the simplest way possible. Usually, the people with different roles in an agile project like customer , the product owner, SMEs and members from the agile development team are involved.

Story Estimation
With the story complete, it’s time to estimate the effort it will require in a session that should include the product owner and members of the development team. You can use “story points” to measure how much effort will be required to implement the project’s story.

Prioritize
Once you have a number of different stories for your team to choose from, you need to prioritize them. The whole team should be involved in this step and you can complete it by simply having everyone assign the choices with a point and seeing which one gets the most votes. The stories or items are documented in the product backlog. Another method is called “MoSCoW” and stands for, “Must. Should. Could. Won’t.” With this method, each potential story is assigned one of these four descriptors, making it pretty clear by the end of your meeting which ones should take priority.

Release the Plan
In agile project management, a “release” is when the higher-ranked stories are ranked by priority. Again, you want the whole team involved so they can see what the product owner and stakeholders want and what kind of timeline they’re working with. These two groups can then transfer the release plan to the development team and get feedback about their expectations.

Sprint Planning
Now it’s time to create those sprints we talked about earlier. Typically the teams have a Sprint Planning Meeting to go over the production backlog items. The development team chooses one of the high-priority stories and divides it into multiple tasks and then assigns them out. This sprint planning process is repeated for every story until team capacity is reached.

Sprint Iteration
Finally, the project can begin with the initial sprint. Everyone has their job and the project manager tracks progress on a burn down chart. After the first iteration, the team comes together to give feedback. The first iteration is also usually presented to the client or a representative customer.


Sprint/Iteration Planning Process

There are many benefits of utilizing agile project management. However, the foundation of this method, the cornerstone that has made it so popular, is what we call “sprints.” Sprints are simply regular, repeatable work cycles. They can be a week long; they can be 30 days long.  They’re as long as any given work cycle needs to be. The important thing is that a sprint represents one part of a whole. 

For example, let’s say you have a project that is going to take a year to complete. You’re going to have an incredibly hard time planning out that project. Most people have trouble seeing a few months into the future. With agile project management, you would decide how long each iteration of the project should be – the sprint – and then just work on planning one or two sprints at a time. This gives you far more freedom to, well, be agile with your approach. It also focuses your team’s attention on the most pressing matters. 

The key with sprints is that you need to make them consistent in terms of time. Most agile project plan veterans would suggest you keep them to between a week and a month. Pick whichever amount makes the most sense, but then keep it that way for the entirety of the project. This is how your team will find its rhythm; it’s also how you’ll be able to go back and learn how your staff works best; you have objective markers for tracking everyone’s output.
agile sprint planning
Agile Sprint Planning

    Tips on the Agile Planning Process

    While this approach may be most associated with the software industry, you should now be able to see how an agile project plan can be leveraged elsewhere too. With an agile project plan like this one in place, you have an objective roadmap to your final goal. More importantly, it’s almost impossible to leave anything to chance. This method brings together the entire team and submits every step of the plan to scrutiny so nothing is accepted without first making sure it actually makes sense. If you want to increase your chances of success, refer back to the project plan example above and the earlier description. 

    3 comments:

    1. Thanks, for making these templates available to all. Although a CSM, am only just moving fully into the agile ways of working in my new role and am in the process of building status reports for agile projects. Your templates therefore are a big help to get me going and greatly appreciated.

      ReplyDelete
    2. Thank you very much for making this template.
      Thank you very much, seriously, I needed a template for the Software Quality class, you saved me.

      ReplyDelete
    3. Thank you so much for this template and knowledge. Appreciated your effort for the same.

      ReplyDelete