Streamlining PI Planning in FMCG Manufacturing

Streamlining PI Planning in FMCG Manufacturing - McKenna Agile Consultants

In April, we travelled to Toronto, Canada to help prepare for and facilitate a 1-day Planning Interval (PI) Planning event for a global FMCG Company. This was only our second in-person planning event since many companies moved to digital events after COVID. This PI Planning event was unique as it was primarily focused on business teams, featuring functions from across the whole plant – not just IT and software!

Adopting Agile and Lean Six Sigma

In their ambition to continually improve and chase operational excellence, our client is embracing Agile methodologies, incorporating the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) cycle into sprints and supported at scale with elements from the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

They are organised into an Agile Release Train (ART) whose goal is to identify and implement improvements to the overall operation of the plant. Members of the ART all have day to day roles and responsibilities restricting the amount of time that they can dedicate to this work, which was reflected in their capacities and loads.

Presenting Planning Guidance at PI Planning - McKenna Agile Consultants
Presenting Planning Guidance at PI Planning

Customising PI Planning for Efficiency

Over the course of 20 Planning Intervals (PIs), they have devised an approach to PI Planning that works for them, condensing it into a power-packed single-day session. This was unlike any other PI Planning session that we have coached at before – conducted at the actual plant, with front line operators actively engaged within the cross functional teams, many of whom were still wearing their PPE as they were planning the forthcoming PI!

Team planning

The morning sessions began in a similar tone to many PI Planning events, with a succinct review of past PI achievements and lessons to set the scene for the upcoming Epics, Features and Roadmaps. As the teams began to breakout, this was where things really got interesting. The frontline operators began to offer insights, ideas and pain points that helped drive practical and actionable plans, in the form of user stories.

Including the expertise of frontline operators meant that the teams identified opportunities that would otherwise remain hidden – I sat in on one where a team were discussing an ingenious use of magnets.

The Release Train Engineer (RTE) and Business Owner were present throughout and really impressed us with their focus on empowerment and servant leadership – perhaps due to their extensive experience and background in Lean. It is rare to get senior leaders present and active for a full day, so to have that was a real value add for the teams.

Expanding Agile Beyond IT

Many agile principles, practices and techniques have been adapted from lean methodologies, so it was refreshing to see agile giving back to lean.

We are starting to see a trend in the type of clients that we are working with. Whether it is using agile or SAFe, or implementing OKRs, we are engaging more with functions beyond IT as companies look for new ways to deliver value.

If you are looking for ways to streamline PI planning in your business, get in touch with our team today.