Big Room Planning / Nexus Sprint Planning

Consider this post as a first step in learning about Big Room Planning, or a refresher to those who know about it already or a toolkit for those who have it planned on the cards.

Complex, cross-team projects often pose challenges to Stakeholders as to who is going to do what, when and how. What is my dependency on others and how accountable I am for the dependencies faced by others? Over the years Agile has managed to ease the life of many involved. The concept of Big Room Planning / Nexus Sprint Planning or BRP helps break big goals into smaller manageable chunks, enables business and technology alignment and makes elephantine problems seem feasible to solve.

So what are the basics of BRP, advantages and how to do it effectively? I will walk you through the basics and how we conducted an effective BRP recently for a major tech organization at Bangalore. It was surreal, 15+ Scrum Teams working across geographies, building a complex software product.

What is BRP

When you have many teams working towards a common goal, we can bring all these together to one room towards one common goal. The goals are then broken down into various scrum teams to identify which team delivers what and how. This can also include teams from various geographies calling in from various locations to provide their valuable inputs or take stock of the situation.

The strategies and effectiveness of the BRP conducted by the Scrum masters, scrum coaches and stake holders helps decide:

  • The path from goals to integrated incremental deliverables.
  • Clear release goals for the next 2-3 months.
  • The release goals, stakeholders and clear understanding of final deliverables.
  • Whether to increase release frequency or the agreed deliverables during sprints.

What can BRP help achieve?

But why do BRP. Is the effort worth, so many people are going to share time and effort for two crucial days. Answer is yes. Two days of effort preceded by an effective Scrum coach can make a sea of difference to the project. Some of the top benefits you can achieve from BRP are:

  • Define the Release Cycle. Plan the work and effort for the next few weeks and months.
  • Identify and Visualize dependencies and integration points across various teams.
  • Improve Collaboration. Teams get to see a quick white-boarded view of what each team is doing.
  • Helps with quick decisions making promoting a feeling of one-unit, making everyone inclusive to the cause. ·
  • Diverse views help look at angles you never thought of before.
  • People own the goals since they have planned them together.

What are some insights from my BRP session

In this section, I will sprinkle my own wisdom dust on how you can execute successful and really effective BRPs. These are like ingredients and you can experiment with these but some are necessary to lead to convincing results for all.

  • Need a strong facilitator – The importance of this cannot be underlined more. Without a good captain, the ship can go astray. The Scrum masters play a pivotal role of clearly defining what the end goals are, what we are trying to achieve and how we are going to achieve it.
  • Agenda, crystal clear agenda – A clear Agenda and the outcome desired at the end of the sessions as well as BRP.
  • Objectives – Need clear and crisp objectives for teams to be aligned. Embed this in the planning, motive and efforts of the teams
  • Answers – Availability of Product Owner and SMEs to help with any clarifying questions the teams have in the BRP session.
  • Alignment – A clear alignment between Product Owners, SMEs, and the respective ScrumTeams.

Different Flavors, Equal Goals

Nexus Sprint Planning is also a flavor of the above that helps plan and coordinate work done by Scrum Teams in the current sprint. Attended by all Scrum teams and all stakeholders, it helps teams look at the Product backlog and prioritize work for the upcoming sprints. All team members equally participate to make adjustments of the work during refinement events, participation from all scrum members helps minimize communication issues. We will talk more about this in the posts to follow.

If you like this post, share it amongst your peers and friends. Have something to say? Drop in a note here or reach out to me if you need help in facilitating some good BRP sessions effective for your business. PracticeAgile.com has helped many Startups, Mid-size corporations and Enterprises by empowering them with the power of effective Big Room Planning!