Many teams and organizations plan for anywhere from a quarter to years before the teams can deliver anything. That planning creates the illusion that the organization knows what the products will be and the value those products will deliver for the organization. The problem is that the more valuable (and often riskier) the product, the more we need resilience and feedback in product planning. Instead of big planning, especially up front, consider using smaller and continual planning that incorporates feedback.
When quarterly planning works, it’s terrific. However, too often it doesn’t work because our assumptions don’t hold:
* We assume each feature set has an even distribution of features compared to other feature sets.
* We assume each feature set has a similar value. We also assume the features inside the feature sets have similar values.
* We assume that features arrive at a predictable rate and that we understand that arrival rate.
* We assume teams can estimate what they can complete in one quarter.
* We assume we don’t need to change what the teams estimated and committed to for one quarter.
Agile approaches allow us to complete small features, assess them and our process, and take the next feature off the backlog. What if we were able to generate the big-picture vision for the product, and yet be able to change what the teams work on next, as often as every day? We might have the best possible approach to product planning and delivery. That’s why using agile and lean roadmapping works so well for products that take three months or more to deliver.