Big Room Planning Event tip: Make sure commitments are made for all dependencies

Planning events should be more about collaboration & dependency management than just creating a plan. Teams commit to the plan with the understanding that any teams they are dependent upon will work with them as needed.

During the event this requires both teams to agree to the date a dependency will be built. This is supposed to happen before the stickies & yarn go on the board. But it sometimes doesn’t happen. This must be tracked. This is done easily enough by putting red dots on both stickies involved. This does not always draw these uncommitted to dependencies to enough attention.

A good program board builder needs to track (and make readily visible) any uncommitted dependencies (see 1st comment). If they are able to do this, however, it also opens up the opportunities for teams known to be constraints to make their complete by when dates later in the event without losing track of what’s not been committed.

In other words, overloaded teams should not commit to stories on a first in first out basis but should do it based on what order will shorten delivery times. A tool that can track this during the event will make it more effective.


We have three pages of interest regarding the tool:

  1. Running effective planning events. This focuses on how events are more about collaboration and dependency management than just creating a plan.
  2. The benefits of the Program Board Builder. The tool is not merely to show dependencies. It is designed to make for better planning events. The cost of building the board and maintaining it precludes many things that would be useful in a planning event. This is, of course, in addition to making the information on the board much clearer.
  3. How to use the Program Board Builder. The tool is incredibly easy to use – it literally runs out of a spreadsheet (Google Sheet or Excel). This document takes you step by step through setup to give you a flavor of how it’s used. We are planning on making a video of the tool in action next week as well.

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