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Agile Program Management

Buying Agile Program Management Software? Start here.

Published By Liz Llewellyn-Maxwell

Agile Program Management describes the way Agile organizations plan, organize, and execute initiatives in a complex, iterative environment. Agile Program Management builds upon the foundation of Agile project management, and provides guidance for how to coordinate, fund, plan, and execute initiatives at scale.  

Having the right solution to facilitate Agile Program Management can make or break your initiative.  

Like with any software buying decision, when you’re looking for Agile Program Management software, you’ll likely follow this process: 

  1. Identify the key attributes that define the software category. 
  1. Research which capabilities are essential in a possible solution. 
  1. Make a list of the questions you need to ask vendors to ensure a good fit. 

Of course, you might add a few substeps to the above process, such as defining your requirements or forming an evaluation team. But at a high level, most buying groups progress through these three, high-level stages when they consider a software solution. 

In this blog post, you’ll learn about the first stage — the key attributes that define the category of Agile Program Management software. And then, to successfully navigate the second and third stages, you can take the Agile Program Management Software Buyer’s Guide along for the ride. Read on to get started! 

3 Key Attributes of Agile Program Management Software 

Regardless of where your organization is on its Agile journey, the solution you choose should check these boxes outright, before you move on to learning the details of the solution. 

Foster a collaborative and coordinated approach to planning 

Quarterly planning, or Program Increment (PI) planning, is a routine, usually face-to-face event where teams create their plans and objectives for the next Program Increment. It’s a critical part of Agile Program Management, because it’s a time for Agile teams to: 

  • Align development to business goals and Team and Program strategic objectives 
  • Identify dependencies and foster cross-team and cross-Agile Release Train (ART) or teams of teams collaboration 
  • Analyze demand and capacity 

Aligning Agile teams around a synchronized planning cadence is essential for unlocking the benefits of Agile Program Management. Teams are the lifeblood of scaling Agile across an organization.  

However, for Agile teams to successfully deliver their committed work, they need a way to stay aligned to strategic objectives and anticipate, understand, and manage work between each other. Scaling Agile success requires solution functionality geared to improve collaboration, keep information flowing between teams, and speed delivery across the business. 

Remember: Any time you are inviting multiple teams and stakeholders into a software solution to achieve a shared outcome, it is essential that your solution is highly configurable, so that it can be configured to accurately reflect your organization’s unique processes. 

Watch Next: Agile Program Management Solution Demo 

Provide extensive cross-team visibility, plus Agile tool integrations 

Agile Program Management enables visibility across teams, which helps teams to understand how their work is related to the work of other teams, anticipate risks and dependencies, and work to mitigate roadblocks before delivery delays happen. 

Understanding and managing cross-team and cross-program dependencies is key for success with Agile Program Management.  

Many enterprise Kanban tools have the capability to connect related work items (cards) across multiple boards, visualize hierarchical relationships between cards, and visualize dependencies with card features like custom icons. These advanced collaboration features enable Agile teams to stay aligned and keep work moving even as dependencies become more complex. 

If you’re like most Agile organizations, it’s likely that your delivery teams use different tools. To increase stakeholder visibility (and a host of other benefits), it is essential that your Agile Program Management software integrates with the Agile tools your teams are already using, in a way that makes the information from those tools meaningful and usable to others within the organization. 

By investing in the right technology to support Agile at scale and Agile Program Management, a key step along the journey to scaling Agile, organizations can begin to bridge the strategy to delivery chasm and deliver better outcomes. 

Connect your execution teams and your strategic objectives 

It is hard to appropriately plan or dial into the larger planning purpose when your Agile teams are operating on different cadences, following different processes, or working in different tools. 

With the right Agile Program Management solution, all the Agile teams are brought together to align to common purpose, and break down their work together. Agile Program Management enables greater strategic alignment through the organization, by providing the visibility and planning processes necessary to take larger initiatives and break them into actionable steps at the team level. 

Many Agile organizations choose to use Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as a framework for planning and measuring delivery against their strategic goals. The OKR framework is especially helpful in Agile Program Management, as it provides a systematic way for teams to orient themselves around big-picture strategic goals while working autonomously toward specific Key Results.  

Take the Next Step 

Now that you know the high-level guidance for choosing Agile Program Management software, it’s time to dive into the details. Download the Agile Program Management Software Buyer’s Guide to learn: 

  • A comprehensive checklist outlining the 9 criteria critical for your solution 
  • 29 key capabilities that roll up under each criteria 
  • A purchase worksheet listing 11 questions to ask each vendor 
  • How Planview can partner with you on your Agile Program Management journey 

With Agile Program Management software giving you clear insights into how your organization is delivering against your desired business outcomes, you will be better equipped to tackle the next stage of scale. 

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Written by Liz Llewellyn-Maxwell Sr. Content Strategist

Liz is a content strategist at Planview. She worked at LeanKit prior to the company being acquired by Planview. With more than 7 years’ of Agile experience, Liz passionately believes in the transformative power that practicing Lean-Kanban principles can have on teams and organizations.