At the end of the PI Planning event, after we have seen what each of the teams can do, we have a confidence vote which is aimed at understanding how we are feeling in an overall sense about the plan we have seen and commit to that work. Since it is phrased as a “confidence vote”, and the implication is that the question is “how likely is it that we will meet all our objectives” the more analytical among the group will say “well there is probably no chance”. This is true, based on probabilities alone. But most do not vote a 1 often because they do not feel it is not safe to do so, or because they do not feel this provides any additional input.
We want to understand remaining issues and we want a commitment to the work. How should we talk about the vote to make this clear to the people involved?
At the end of the Program Increment Planning Event the train participants (teams, Product Managers, Business Owners, Leadership, etc) participate in a train-wide confidence vote on meeting the Program PI objectives.
Strictly speaking a confidence vote is not the same as a commitment, but we treat it as the same thing.
At this stage the train participants have:
So there should be a sense of whether the teams can complete the committed objectives – hence the train confidence vote creates an aggregate view.
The agile approach dictates that commitment must come from the teams doing the work. In addition, a SAFe commitment comes in two parts:
The confidence vote is a response to the question “How confident are you that the Train will complete the committed objectives?”:
At the end of PI Planning, there should be good confidence based on what people know and have seen and heard from others.
As a result of this act, the stakeholders will know that either:
If someone feels that there are risks, or doesn't think there is sufficient capacity / scope buffer, or that we’ve all missed “the elephant in the room” … they should raise it.
It is up to leadership to determine what, if anything, to do about the concern. Since we are at the end of the event, the issue might simply be accepted or it could become a subject for the train PI planning retrospective aimed at seeing what we can do to improve our level of confidence in the future.
To expect that completion is not possible indicates a larger issue that should be discussed and remedied prior to the next planning event.