Key takeaways from our latest digital planning session with Audi.

By
Ben Magnus, Product Director
Date:
01 September 2021
Photograph:

Somo and the Audi of America and Audi Canada Digital Business teams recently hosted its second Digital Planning Session (DPS) of 2021, a (now) virtual event that brings together colleagues from Audi and VW Group, and its partners at Somo, BIMM, and IXIS. During the four day event, the attendees are split into their 14 product teams and divide their time between program-wide sessions and individual team breakouts.

The objectives of the DPS are to provide an understanding of the wider Audi of America and Audi Canada Digital Business team’s strategy, create clear objectives for the next quarter, and importantly, demonstrate how each team’s objectives provide value to Audi and its customers. Other objectives include ensuring team members understand requirements, identifying interdependencies between teams and highlighting risks, and providing an opportunity for each team to showcase highlights from the previous quarter. 

The format of the DPS has evolved considerably since we first started running them with Audi back in 2019. Initially, the format was closer aligned with traditional Program Increment Planning, an event that forms part of the foundation of the Scaled Agile Framework. However, we’ve continually adapted the structure and outcomes of the event, based on a combination of attendee feedback and our observations, to ensure it is as effective and valuable for Audi and the attendees as possible. As a result of COVID, these events which were previously held in-person have also had to switch to being fully remote, introducing its own challenges.

Today we run the DPS across four days, with ½ day sessions each morning. Day 1 includes an update on the business performance and digital strategy, individual team retrospectives, and a readout from each team covering a review of their progress towards the previous Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and a demo of their work. Days 2 and 3 are focused on planning; one day for individual teams to create and agree on their OKRs for the next quarter and one day for discussing interdependencies, risks, and blockers with other teams across the program. On the final day, teams each readout their OKRs for the next quarter and highlight the value to the organization that their product or feature will help to deliver. All teams are expected to leave the DPS with OKRs established for the next quarter, Epics that align with each objective, and a list of dependencies on other teams.

After each event we distribute a survey to all attendees to ensure that we’re continually improving the format of the DPS. Our results from the last event were our best yet, at both a program and team level. From a program perspective, 95% of attendees stated the event was effective in helping to provide a better understanding of the wider Audi of America and Audi Canada Digital Business teams team’s strategy, with 94%finding it effective for seeing what other teams had achieved in the last quarter.

From a team perspective, 94% of attendees found the DPS to be effective in creating clear objectives for their team, with 75% agreeing they felt confident with the plan their team had created. 95% also believed the event was effective in demonstrating how their objectives provide value to the organization and its customers. Outside of the planning aspect of the DPS, team morale is an area that is more important now than ever given the remote nature of the work environment. This is especially true in our case, with many of the team members, split across the US, Canada, Colombia, and Germany, never having met face-to-face. The in-person DPS has historically been hugely successful in helping to build team morale, so we were extremely pleased to see that 85% believed this last event, held fully remote, was effective in achieving this objective.

The DPS has always been a valuable event for management as it provides a holistic view of what the program is focused on delivering throughout the next quarter. However, given the investment of time and effort that goes into running a DPS, ensuring that attendees are also finding the event to be a valuable use of their time is important for us. With 75% agreeing that the event was a valuable use of their time and 83% stating they would like to continue attending, it looks like DPS’ are here to stay. 

To learn more about how Somo can help provide leadership that helps to deliver effective planning and performance across a digital portfolio, reach out to marketing@somoglobal.com.