When a team embarks on a new project or the development of a product from scratch, one of the first questions that arises is, “Where do we start?” This is a crucial question because the early stages of a project can often seem confusing and chaotic. Every team has its own way of working, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are key steps you can follow to guide you in the right direction.


Initial Planning: Your Starting Point

The first crucial step in launching a project or product from scratch is initial planning, sometimes referred to as “Sprint 0.” This phase includes gathering requirements and creating the Product Backlog, as well as establishing the vision and strategic objectives.


Step 1: Establish the Vision

Initial planning begins with defining the vision. What are the long-term goals for your project or product? What do you want to achieve? The leadership team, stakeholders, and team members must work together to create a clear and shared vision. A Design Thinking workshop can be helpful to stimulate creativity and encourage collaboration.

Step 2: Define Strategic Objectives (OKRs)

Once the vision is established, it’s time to translate that vision into concrete objectives. This is where Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) come into play. Work collaboratively with the project leader to define the product or project’s OKRs. An agile strategic planning workshop can be used to clarify these objectives and ensure they align with the vision.

Creating the Product Backlog

Step 3: Gathering Information and Needs
After establishing the vision and OKRs, it’s time to collect requirements and ideas for your project or product. Engage in discussions with stakeholders to understand their expectations. Use Design Thinking techniques to foster empathy and understanding.

Step 4: Prioritization

Prioritize the collected elements based on OKRs and product needs. Conduct a prioritization workshop with the development team and stakeholders to rank the items.

Step 5: Decomposition of Elements

Transform prioritized items into user stories or backlog items. Organize an Agile workshop to break down features into user stories.

Step 6: Organization of the Initial Backlog

Determine the priority order of user stories and compile them into an initial product backlog. Use an Agile backlog refinement workshop for this step.


The Importance of Iteration

It’s essential to understand that the initial planning, especially the definition of the vision and OKRs, may require multiple iterations. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a valuable practice. Iteration allows you to adjust and refine the vision as new information emerges. It also promotes alignment between stakeholders and the development team.


Finding the Balance

The initial planning process can be complex, but it’s crucial to start on the right foot. It helps avoid misunderstandings, clarify objectives, and establish a framework for the project’s progression. However, it’s important to strike a balance between planning and action. Don’t let excessive planning paralyze your team. Once you have a clear vision and defined objectives, take action.

Remember that each team is unique, and it’s important to adapt these steps to your specific context. The key is to create an environment where collaboration and alignment are encouraged. Initial planning, though often iterative, is a valuable investment that will help you start successfully and maximize your chances of success in your new project or product development.


Ultimately, viewing iterations in initial planning as a means to align stakeholders and set realistic expectations will help you establish a strong foundation for your project or product. So, dive in, adapt, and move forward toward achieving your goals. Success is just a few iterations away.