Agile planning onion

When I used to work as Agile coach I heard many times that Agile does not take planning into account. However, Agile has many levels of planning. In fact, it has six levels of planning.

Levels of Agile planning

Agile does lot more planning and risk mitigation than traditional processes. Agile focuses on planning very often instead of doing comprehensive and assumption based planning once. Agile Planning Onion has six levels – Strategy, Portfolio, Product, Release, Iteration and Day.

Agile planning onion

I would like to use Mike Cohn’s explanation about Agile planning (Agile Estimating and Planning)

“Most agile teams are concerned only with the three innermost levels of the planning onion. Release planning considers the user stories or themes that will be developed for a new release of a product or system. The goal of release planning is to determine an appropriate answer to the questions of scope, schedule, and resources for a project. Release planning occurs at the start of a project but is not an isolated effort. A good release plan is updated throughout the project (usually at the start of each iteration) so that it always reflects the current expectations about what will be included in the release.

At the next level is iteration planning, which is conducted at the start of each iteration. Based on the work accomplished in the just-finished iteration, the product owner identifies high-priority work the team should address in the new iteration. Because we are looking at a closer horizon than with release planning, the components of the iteration plan can be smaller. During iteration planning, we talk about the tasks that will be needed to transform a feature request into working and tested software.

Finally, there is daily planning. Most agile teams use some form of daily stand-up meeting to coordinate work and synchronize daily efforts. Although it may seem excessive to consider this planning in the formal sense, teams definitely make, assess, and revise their plans during these meetings. During their daily meetings, teams constrain the planning horizon to be no further away than the next day, when they will meet again. Because of this, they focus on the planning of tasks and on coordinating the individual activities that lead up to the completion of a task.

By planning across these three time horizons—release, iteration, and day—agile teams focus on what is visible and important to the plan they are creating.

Outside the concern of most individual agile teams are product, portfolio, and strategic planning. Product planning involves a product owner’s looking further ahead than the immediate release and planning for the evolution of the released product or system. Portfolio planning involves the selection of the products that will best implement a vision established through an organization’s strategic planning.”

As you can read Agile has multiple levels of planning so you can explain to your managers (or recommend the book which is better) all of levels to calm down them.

To conclude it, teams are only concerned until Release, far away from it will be in charge of the Product Owner!!!

Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile.


I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally
different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible
to implement it.

Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.

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