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SAFe® PI Planning: digital vs. analog

Raphael Sigg

October 24, 2017

3 min read

When it comes to determining whether digital or analog tools should be used in the collaborative part of agile team planning, we suddenly find ourselves in an argument. There are, of course, two fronts in these disputes. On the one hand, there are the advocates of physical planning (including Rentouch, although we don’t officially admit it), and on the other hand, there are the digital natives who don’t know how to spell the word “paper”. In addition, there are those who see no other way out than to rely on digital planning. This often includes very simple reasons. Whether it’s because your company is already working with ALM tools and you don’t want to manage everything twice or the organization has reached a size where it just can’t work without distributed constellations. When we talk about companies of this size, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) is often present somewhere and thus the PI Planning.

Here are three points why distributed planning has become unavoidable for such companies:

  • It is too expensive to fly in hundreds of employees from all over the world 4 to 5 times a year and to accommodate them in hotels for two days of planning.
  • Many companies do not have a hall at their headquarters just for PI Plannings, which they can use at any time. They are forced to carry out planning abroad. We have already received feedback from companies that they are unable to rent suitable premises for PI Plannings in their surroundings, as there is simply no offer.
  • Sending employees on business trips five times a year will not only be viewed positively. Especially in the case of employees with family, this has a long-term effect on job satisfaction and is generally tiring, which does not contribute to motivation and therefore has a negative effect on the PI Planning itself.


We can summarize it as follows: Teams in small companies can stay with the old-established and beneficial physical sticky notes and paper boards if they don’t have any dependencies with other teams or obligations to specific tools. But as soon as the organisation becomes bigger, more complex and at some point distributed, there is no way around digital planning and documentation of the work done.
In a nutshell: Assessment of the situation and choice of tool.

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