Your Backlog Management: Filtered or Unfiltered?

The VersionOne Backlog is a powerful piece of the application that allows Product Owners to prioritize their work.  With many projects being worked on, multiple teams contributing and requirements that change, a backlog may start to contain hundreds of items.

We want to make sure that members who modify the backlog have the ability to quickly find the items they are looking for.  Many of our loyal readers may know about the Filter option on the Backlog grid to assist them in locating certain items.  Filters can be applied to look for items in a particular Epic, belonging to a particular team, or even finding items in a certain status.  However, many users may not be taking advantage of the “More Filters” list or the “My Filters” capability.

More Filters

“More Filters” exposes a list of additional filters that can be applied to the grid view you are on.  The window that comes up when selecting that option allows you to choose from other list types related to that asset.

More Filters selection window

So, if you were looking for all defects of a particular type, you can open the More Filters option, select the type you are looking for, and apply it to the backlog.  Very handy!

My Filters

With “My Filters” you can create a filter that persists so that you can apply it again and again.  “My Filters” can be created for the different drop-down values within VersionOne, even custom lists types!  The filters you create with “My Filters” can also be combined.  So, say you are identifying your stories by a particular “Type” attribute and now you want to filter the backlog to look for a certain one but only those that are high in priority.  What’s a Product Owner to do?

You can create a filter by accessing My Home-> Filters.  When you elect to add a filter, you will be presented with a window to pick and choose the values for the filter.  In the example below, I created a name for my filter and selected the appropriate values for “Type” and “Priority.”

My Filters Selection Window

After saving this, I can then apply this combined filter to my backlog by selecting it from the My Filters menu option under the Filter button:

More Filters Option Expanded

My results show me the combined data that applies to that filter and, best of all, it’s there when I need to run it in the future.

In this post, I showed the example off of the Backlog grid; however, filters as described can be created and applied to any screen in the system where the data appears in a grid format.

Happy agile, everyone!

Posted in Backlog Management, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Sprint Planning & Tracking | Leave a comment

Project Scorecard Report

Once upon a time, I was a Senior Project Manager in a Development Department of a major retailer based in the Atlanta area. One of my jobs was to compile and distribute a weekly report on all the various projects we were working on in the department. I used to spend a half-day putting this together (usually Friday afternoon) and it was rarely easy. Sifting through Microsoft Project plans, status emails, etc. made it an onerous task.

In VersionOne, there is a report in Analytics that makes this happen with a single click. The Project Scorecard report gives you visibility into the key project metrics for a selection of projects:

VersionOne Project Scorecard Report

Some of the fields in the report (such as Budget) are Custom Fields on Projects, but the many of the others are calculated fields. Percent Complete is based on Open and Closed Story Points, and the Expected Complete is based on the dates of the particular projects. Expenditure fields are based on hours of Effort logged in specific projects, multiplied by a constant representing hourly costs.

In addition, because this was built using the Custom Reporting Module, it can be customized to reflect the metrics that are important to your organization. Once you run the report, you can use the buttons on the bottom to export it to Excel, PDF or directly to a printer. Put it in an email, and it’s out the door.

Would have been nice to have back in the day. Maybe I could have done something more productive with those Friday afternoons…

Posted in Product Tips & Tricks, Program Manager, Project Manager, Reporting & Analytics | Leave a comment

All for One, One for All! Approach to Managing Agile Projects with Shared Services

Yours is an organization delivering multiple projects for different customers through your various teams – shared services.  Though your teams practice agile – and enjoy it! – they do not truly have a dedicated backlog; their efforts are helping deliver value to multiple streams.

Consider the following approach to in setting up VersionOne to help you:

  • Capture multiple project backlogs
  • Assign work to several teams
  • Track progress against project timeframes
  • Allow teams to manage and track their work independently

The Project Tree

  • A root node represents your organization or group’s project repository – here you will capture your projects (more about that in just a moment).
  • Child nodes represent your shared services teams, working at their own agile cadence.
Root node is the organization's project intake/repository, child nodes are team-level backlogs.

Root node is the organization’s project intake/repository, child nodes are team-level backlogs.

The Projects (VersionOne Epics)

  • Captured at the root node level, each VersionOne Epic represents a distinct project, with their own start and end dates.
  • Child VersionOne Epics can be used to define features, capabilities or team level groupings of user stories.
  • Child VersionOne Epics and/or user stories within these are assigned to teams across the Project Tree.

VersionOne Epics at the root node represent projects.  Child Epics and Stories are associated to the shared services teams.

V1 Epics at the root node represent projects. Child Epics and Stories are associated to the shared services teams.

 The Planning Room (V1 Ultimate)

  • The Epic Tree shows the list of Projects (VersionOne Epics) and allows for quick inspection through drill-down.
  • The Epic Timeline tracks progress made on these Projects against a calendar view.
  • The Planning Room can be used to combine views such as the Epic Tree and Epic Timeline for a super charged perspective for project tracking.

Combine VersionOne Epic views such as the Epic Tree and Epic Timeline for a single view into project progress.

Combine V1 Epic views such as the Epic Tree and Epic Timeline for a single view into project progress.

 The TeamRoom

  • The TeamRoom is the dashboard of tools and visuals for tracking team project progress.
  • Displays work allocated to the team.
  • Allows configuration of views for managing project work that matches their team workflows.

Teams use their team dashboard - the TeamRoom - to configure, manage, and track their project work.

Teams use their team dashboard – the Team Room – to configure, manage, and track their project work.

Most progress-tracking reports – e.g., Burndown, Estimate Trend, Velocity, etc. – can be filtered by a VersionOne Epic (your project), so metrics are readily available at any level of granularity.

So, are you an organization with all teams contributing to a project – All for One?  Try this approach, a simple project tracking approach – One for All!

Cheers!

Posted in Admin, Backlog Management, Getting Started, Kanban, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Program Management, Program Manager, Project Manager, ScrumMaster, ScrumMaster, Stakeholder | Leave a comment

New Winter 2014 Release Available: Analytics and Core

On this day in 1994 Lorena Bobbitt was released from a state psychiatric  hospital in Virginia, five weeks after being acquitted by reason of insanity for mutilating her husband, John Bobbitt.

Now, 20 years later, something else that’s insane is also being released…  Of course I’m talking about this weekend’s point release updates.  While we don’t have any new functionality related to Members or Attachments, we do have a whack load of valuable fixes for both Analytics and Core, with some going all the way back to 13.0.

For all the gory details, check out the full release notes on the VersionOne Community Site.

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Our Daily Standup is Stale – What’s the Point?

As a ScrumMaster I’ve had the opportunity to participate and facilitate many daily standup meetings – 6 years’ worth.  There have been excellent standup meetings and conversations – many led to useful and valuable collaborative sessions in which real work was accomplished.  Many were fun; some were tense; and still some were a bit… uninspiring.

It happens to the best of teams – don’t worry.  Some patterns are easy to recognize and provide room for adapting.  The goal of the daily standup is to share meaningful information that involves the team, and that quite likely leads to ACTION.  So, let’s consider the following two scenarios, where a team goes from stale to engaged!

A team member is delivering his daily standup ‘report’ (ugh) by stating what he did the day before, what he will be doing today and mentions no obstacles.  A few team members are looking at the floor.  A couple more are looking at each other, rolling their eyes and sighing.  The remaining ones are looking at the team member who’s speaking and looking past him, hearing but not really listening.  Some are thinking to themselves:

“How is this useful to ME?”

“Didn’t ALL of us make it to THAT meeting/lunch-and-learn/iteration review you’re mentioning?”

“Isn’t this what you do EVERY day/week, task such-and-such?”

The team member did not share any information that required action or engagement from others.  He repeated items that he does with regularity, as part of his role, perhaps, and mentioned his attendance at team meetings or other events in which everyone else took part.  Perhaps not every single daily standup will necessarily yield groundbreaking, actionable information.  But consider including in your daily standup delivery information that is relevant to the TEAM.

Let’s see how this team of 7 conducts a useful (not stale) daily standup:

A Database Developer begins…”Yesterday, I created a new schema definition and checked it in to Git; this new version accommodates engine and UI changes for Story X.  Today I will write queries for the new Java code, specifically for Features A and B.  And, I have an obstacle – the sandbox environment needs to be upgraded to support the new database version.”

On hearing this, the Engine Developer thinks to himself: “Ah, it’s ready – today I will begin to run data through the engine code with the new schema and write the unit test cases…”

The 2 Java Front-End Developers are thinking: “Cool – we can wire the new GUI input to the database…”

The Platform Developer is thinking: “Upgrade sandbox environment, deploy new database, nix impediment – check!”

And the 2 Test Engineers are thinking: “New code, new build – deploy and test!”

The Database Developer did not make mention of commonplace, daily tasks or occurrences, nor did he include information that, as exciting as it may be, might only be useful for him.  What he did mention were items that required action from the team – use the new database with engine and front-end code, test new changes, deploy required, new sandbox environment AND remove an obstacle.  Every member of the team was engaged, heard their call to action, and consumed the information to inspect and adapt their daily priorities. It was not stale; it was USEFUL.

Not every daily standup will have all of these qualities.  But this example highlights aspects of what will make it meaningful.  Oh, and be sure to laugh, crack a joke, plan lunch together – this is YOUR team meeting :-).

Posted in Developer, Project Manager, QA Tester, Roles, ScrumMaster, ScrumMaster | 2 Comments

New Winter ’14 Point Release Available

On this day (2/28) in 1994 Lorena Bobbitt was released from a state psychiatric  hospital in Virginia, five weeks after being acquitted by reason of insanity for mutilating her husband, John Bobbitt.

Now, 20 years later, something else that’s insane is also being released…  Of course I’m talking about this weekend’s point release updates.  While we don’t have any new functionality related to Members or Attachments, we do have a whack load of valuable fixes for both Analytics and Core, with some going all the way back to 13.0.

For all the gory details, check out the full release notes on the VersionOne Community Site.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Requests and Ideas - My Polymorphic Backlog in VersionOne

If you are a Product Owner, a Project Manager, or a Business Analyst, you have heard the following before; I’m sure:

“It’s not a defect; it’s a feature.”

“It’s not an issue; it’s an enhancement.”

“It’s not a bug; it ‘works-as-designed’.”

The statements themselves underscore ambiguity between perception and (possibly) reality.  What is certain – particularly in the delivery of value, whether addressing missed functionality, feature requests, or bugs – is that items such as these should not be immediately lumped in with a well-defined, well-groomed backlog.  They may be user stories, defects, blocking issues, or even larger business cases or epics.  Since their inception these items may be somewhat amorphous in nature – “let’s first decide what ‘they’ are” – you might benefit from capturing these separately and making a decision upon review and inspection on what you want them to be.

Enter VersionOne’s Requests and Ideas – your polymorphic backlogs in VersionOne.

The Requests list in Product Planning is a ranked, ordered list of items submitted by internal or external sources.  As the name suggests, Requests provide a discrete system object to capture this input, with its own workflow and attributes, to allow for analysis and further disposition.  A Request can be used as a starting point to create Stories, Epics, Defects or Issues, or can be tied to existing items.  VersionOne provides traceability for any item derived from or connected to a Request through an item’s Detail page, data grids and tools such as Visualization in VersionOne Ultimate Edition.

VersionOne Ideas provide similar capabilities, with the advantage of receiving direct input from customers and stakeholders through Web forums, both public and private.  An Ideas forum allows submitters the opportunity to view feature and enhancement requests made by other people, vote and comment on them.  These Ideas and feedback are available for review inside VersionOne to aid a Product Owner in understanding how to better serve his/her audience, and as with VersionOne Requests, are used to create new backlog items or support existing user stories and other project work.

So – Product Owners / Project Managers / Business Analysts – don’t want to disrupt your well-defined, well-groomed backlog with as-of-yet undefined new items?  Use VersionOne Requests and Ideas as your polymorphic backlog.

Cheers!

Visualization map of items related to a user story.

Visualization map of items related to a user story.

Posted in Backlog Management, Collaboration, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Program Management, Program Manager, Project Manager, ScrumMaster | Leave a comment

New Winter 2014 14.0.2 Point Release Available

On this day in 1990, McDonald’s opened their first restaurant in what was then still known as The Soviet Union.  Thousands of people lined up that day in Moscow, excited to finally have their chance to sample a common symbol of American excess and capitalism: the Big Mac.  Of course these days the Soviet Union is no more and Russia has fully embraced the spoils of capitalism. But one thing that McDonald’s still represents is excess.

Whether it’s an Extra-Large French Fries, 48-oz. sodas or a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, McDonald’s has never shied away from their attitude of “More for Less.”

Something else that is not shying away from that same “More-for-Less” attitude is this weekend’s Winter ’14 Point Release.  With over 2 dozen fixes and features, this point release is the very definition of Super-Sized.

We’ve got improvements to the Owners list and assignment controls.  My Filters and More Filters in PlanningRooms can now be applied to individual panels in PlanningRooms.  Even Analytics is getting in on the action with usability improvements in dashboard configuration settings.  And, unlike McDonald’s Extra Value Meals, our VersionOne Extra Value Point Release is guaranteed to be 100% calorie free.

To view the complete list of nutritional facts features, take a look at the full release notes out on the Community site.

Posted in Point Releases, Reporting & Analytics | Leave a comment

The Large and the Small: Winter 2014 is Here

A new year is upon us and with that, the new Winter 2014 Release. While the process of delivering our quarterly releases means each is roughly equivalent in size, there is still something special about the annum’s turn. With thoughts of what is new and fresh, a couple of the new features spring to mind. One, Epic Release Planning, is focused more on the broader organization and strategic alignment. The other, new Detail Views, addresses needs at the individual level.

Large and Small Rewards

Rewards, both Large & Small

Epic Release Planning encourages a more strategic mindset in your planning. Gone are the days when you have only a somewhat-prioritized backlog to drive the release plans. With the ability to use larger-grained features as the primary building blocks, release planning steps away from the tactical world in the direction of boldly implementing company strategy. Instead of focusing solely on story points, you can now allow value and risk to be your guides. By elevating your planning game, better alignment of strategy and delivery is sure to follow.

In contrast to the broad scale of corporate strategy, the winter release also offers something refreshing for the individuals at the team level – you know, the driving force implementing the strategic plans. An abundance of customer input, review and feedback has helped us deliver a much-improved set of interactions and visuals down at the detailed level. New, more distinguishable detail views, embedded links and images in descriptions, richer rich text fields and a new owner’s control that is both more efficient and more functional than the old are new enhancements that awaken in this release. Early feedback on the inline image capability from internal designers and testers at VersionOne has been gleeful, to say the least.

If you haven’t already, check out the Release Notes to get more info on the specifics.

Posted in Agile Champion, Developer, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Program Manager, Project Manager, QA Tester, Release Announcements | Leave a comment

New Fall ’13 (13.3.7) Point Release Available

Considering that most of the country is currently being held by the firm and icy grip of Old Man Winter, it seems fitting that today we would celebrate the “birthday” of one of the most ‘Wintery’ of states in the US.  While the United States acquired Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000 in 1867, it didn’t officially become a fully-fledged State until January 3, 1959, after Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into law earlier the previous year.

As our way of saying “Happy 55th Birthday Alaska!”, VersionOne is pleased to announce the release of the 13.3.7 point release.  I’m sure you’ll all agree that nothing says happy birthday quite like fixed HTTP Headers for OAuth2 used in SAML SSO Environments and Panel plugins that can load non-https Web sites.  So here’s to you Alaska… Happy Birthday (and happy new year to everyone else)!

For a complete list of changes, check out the release notes on the Community Site.

Posted in Point Releases | Leave a comment