Simple boards for PI planning to get you started

Once you have run a few PI planning sessions there is a good chance you will have bumped into some problems with a paper-based approach for your Team boards,  Program and ValueStream boards. Among these might be:

  • At the end of the 2-days you are typically exhausted (chewing dinner with your eyes closed). To methodically translate what you have on the walls into an electronic format can be a tough ask.
  • Sharing the boards real-time with remotely-located teams can be a challenge.
  • When you try to roll up the board to take back with you important information can be lost when things drop/move. The board tends to be a little fragile with the post-its and red yarn not always staying in place
  • Where to put them when you get back to your desks can sometimes be an issue.

Rolling white-boards can address some of these problems. Adept use of a camera/phone to snap pictures can help also. I have seen newer products offering to address this with smart monitors over the network (I look forward to the possibility of exploring that in the future). I have also seen teams jumping through hoops to use their user story management tool to provide support for boards in SAFe. Things are getting better all the time – but in many cases the tools were not built to support SAFe and their shortcomings are quickly exposed. I’m not going to criticize any particular tool but I will say this: If you are not careful your tool will become your process rather than only support your process. And to that I would add that there is a large risk that you will invest in a lot of time in  configuration/set up and it won’t pay you back. Case in point – the tool I am using now does not have a good home for PI objectives.

Boards are just too valuable as BVIRs to ever entertain backing away from them (imo). So what to do?

Here’s an option to consider:

Choose a simple every day product which will support basic graphics and text rendering. Create a board in that tool and use that to mirror your physical (paper) boards. If you have the luxury of some big expensive monitors in large numbers you might be able to entertain your electronic board become THE source. Sharing your boards via any desktop-sharing solution of your choosing (e.g. Sametime) means everyone can see each other’s boards whether remote or not. The important thing is that you facilitate the dialog/conversation – and its far less important that all information be modeled in a complex tool in real-time.

Here’s an example Program board done in PowerPoint.


Here’s an example TeamBoard similarly done in PowerPoint.


Here are some templates for you to use to get you started.



Incidentally … PowerPoint has a feature you might have some use for on your board. The ScreenTip feature which you can attach to a HyperLink means you can hover over any item on your board and see a more verbose description of the story rendered. It looks like this if you choose to use it:


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