Task: Plan Iteration
Plan the scope and responsibilities for a single iteration.
Disciplines: Project Management

To identify the next increment of system capability, and create a fine-grained plan for achieving that capability within a single iteration.

Main Description

During project planning, iterations are identified, but the estimates have an acceptable uncertainty due to the lack of detail at the project inception. This task is repeated for each iteration within a release. It allows the team to increase the accuracy of the estimates for one iteration, as more detail is known along the project. The project manager has the responsibility of ensuring that the team commits to a reasonable amount of work for the iteration, based on team performance from previous iterations.

Prioritize Work Items List
The work items list should be prioritized before you plan the next iteration. Consider what has changed since the last iteration plan (such as new change requests, shifting priorities of your stakeholders, or new risks that have been encountered).
Define iteration objectives

Work with the team to refine the iteration objectives found in the project definition and scope, and document them in the iteration plan in order to provide high-level direction to what should be targeted for the iteration. The objectives should be driven based on stakeholder priorities, and will be revised as the iteration plan is finalized. Those objectives are usually defined as high-level capabilities or scenarios, which need to be implemented and tested during the iteration in order to deliver increased value to the customer.

Commit work to the iteration

The project manager works with the team, and especially the project stakeholders, to identify the high-priority work items from the work items list to be addressed. The high-level objectives provide guidance on what work items should be considered. The iteration plan from previous iteration should include an assessment of the results, and can also be used as input to the current iteration planning. The team reviews its velocity and determines the amount of work that can be done within the iteration. The team breaks down into tasks those work items that are assigned to the iteration, and estimates the effort to complete each task. Typical tasks range from half a day to two days in length, and are captured in the work items list. See Guideline: Agile Estimation for more information.

When the team has decided to take on a work item, it will assign the work to one or several team members. Ideally, this is done by team members signing up to do the work, since this makes people motivated and committed to doing the job. However, based on your culture, you may instead have the project manager assign the work.

Identify and review risks

Throughout the project, new assumptions and concerns may arise. The team identifies and prioritizes new risks as part of iteration planning, updating the risk list. Responses to risks are added to the work items list, influencing the work that is being planned for that iteration.

Define evaluation criteria

Each iteration should include testing as a part of the evaluation, as well as the test objectives and test cases that need to be detailed. Other evaluation criteria may include successful demonstrations to key stakeholders, or favorable usage by a small group of target users. Document evaluation criteria in the iteration plan.

Refine project definition and scope

Depending on the results of the previous iteration assessment, update the project definition work products as needed. Necessary changes can encompass the need to acquire new resources, to absorb an unplanned effort increase, or to implement a specific change request. If a change affects defined project milestones, consult with the stakeholders before committing to it.

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