New VersionOne Program Board Supports SAFe Program Increment (PI) Planning

new-versionone-program-board-supports-safe-800x328If your organization is implementing Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), then you’ll want to take a look at VersionOne’s new Program Board which is central to Program Increment (PI) planning. The Program Board helps team easily view and track dependent work across their PI’s. This board shows dependencies that have been assigned to work and planned into iterations providing transparency and visibility for program and delivery teams to visualize the work done, the work in progress, and to clearly identify potential blockers in the way.










The Story is the Hub

The easiest way to visualize how to manage the items on the Program Board is to know how to manage the work.  Using an agile method like Scrum and SAFe, teams deliver value via working solutions, planned in sprints, and delivered in releases.story spoke

Using the VersionOne Lifecycle for Agile ALM platform, the user story is the center of the asset wheel, and all the entities around it make up the report.

Stories are the key in several ways:

  • Stories are aligned to releases (e.g. PI’s)
  • Stories are planned into sprints or iterations
  • Stories are assigned to a team, representing the group responsible for completing the work
  • Stories have dependencies, upstream and downstream with other user stories, especially the stories that have cross-team, feature and sprint/iteration boundaries
  • Stories are tied to features or epics using portfolio items, and they roll up from feature to epic if the hierarchy exists

Key Benefits of the Program Board

  • Visualize cross-team dependencies
  • See the work dependencies aligned to the sprints
  • View percentage complete indicators for the features
  • Indentify upstream and downstream work, and hover over visualizations for easy reading
  • See unplanned and out-of-scope work
  • Manage your PI Planning Board electronically and track history of changes as you go

Easy Steps to Create Visualizations with the Program Board

Here are the steps you can use to setup and track cross-team dependency work for your enterprise on the VersionOne Program Board.

1. Teams – Create the Teams, or verify that the teams are already created.  You can also see the teams from Release Planning > Team Scheduling

2. Epics & Features – Breakdown Epics to Features and align the Features to the correct planning level project asset.  This can be done in Release Planning.

3. Stories & Alignment – Create the user stories manually or via the Excel Import, and align the Assign Dependenciesstories to the Teams and Features, (Portfolio Item field). Both editable fields on the story.

4. Dependencies Track dependencies between the stories, teams, and features by creating upstream or downstream dependencies from Story to Story.  This can be done on the a story grid page like the Product Backlog Page, or on the Story Detail Page. Dependencies are set at the Story level, but they roll up to the team and feature level dependencies.

5. Sprints – Plan the stories into one or more sprints.  This is done in Sprint/Iteration Planning and is the final puzzle piece that will allow you to see the cross team, and feature work.

Other Notes

  • You can have different views of the Program Board by aligning the Epics to a higher planning level (e.g. align Epics to the ART or Portfolio)
  • The selected project must have a start date, end date, and schedule.
  • For all the details on the Program Board and all the other agile capabilities above, please visit our community page.
  • The Program Board is available in the Ultimate Edition starting in the Winter 2016 – 16.0.3 release.

Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.

Posted in Agile Tips, Product & Release Planning, Product Tips & Tricks, Program Management, Program Manager, Project Manager, Reporting & Analytics, Scaled Agile Framework, ScrumMaster, Sprint Planning & Tracking, Stakeholder, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is the Process Fix In?

In the best selling book Who Moved My Cheese?author Spencer Johnson tells the fictional tale  of two mice, and two humans who must deal with the inevitable changes happening in their “cheese” environment. Two of the key lessons about changes from the book are that in work and life, you must:cheese

  • Monitor Change:  Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old.
  • Adapt To Change Quickly: The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy the new cheese.

Source: Wikipedia

Anticipate Change

The need to accept and anticipate change is a recurring theme surfacing in all agile teams looking for better ways to try to manage uncertainty. The good news is that there are team-tested ways to make even minor improvements that can pay valuable

CollaborationVersionOne is helping agile teams collaborate at all levels, as well as
anticipate and manage changes using Conversations, and Community Topics to manage their lean change process documentation efforts. 

Monitor & Adapt Using Conversations

Conversations allow agile team members, stakeholders, and others to actively collaborate about anything related to different assets, such as releases, epics, work items, tasks, and community topics. Because they are automatically associated with the various items, you can easily find and keep track of related discussions. This is a key way for your organization to be able monitor, track, and trace changes including all the important discussions leading up to the change.

As teams adapt more quickly to changes, they become experts at exclusively using the correct dosage of VersionOne Conversations to document all the important decisions for the work they are doing. This provides transparency for the team to see what was done, along with the tracking history behind the change decision.  Guest collaborators can also be included in the conversations, allowing your customers and suppliers to interact directly with the teams. This capability does not give them access to the work in VersionOne, just to the conversations they are included on. This also does not count against your license usage.

Benefits with Conversations

  • Monitor change where it happens
  • Eliminate inefficient communication vehicles like email
  • Consolidate and collaborate directly on the work items
  • Provide transparency at all levels of the enterprise
  • Collaborate with key stakeholders on the work being done
  • Track accountability via the changed date and member name

Real-World Conversation Example

A great use case for VersionOne Conversations to use them to track, monitor, and understand changes made to Community Topics. Conversations are used as the “confirmation medium” for your changes.  Here is how that looks in VersionOne:Lean process Change - CU


A. Lean Process Changes Made

  • Change ExampleA new process change for checking in fixes surfaces at a team retrospective. This spawns a proposed update conversation related to the Community Topic for “How We Check In Fixes.”
  • The change follows the lean change process and is documented in the topic, as well as a conversation for further discussion. With the topic updated and discussed, it’s ready for consumption by the teams, but is it understood?

B. Understanding Confirmed 

  •  Start a conversation on the changed topic to “Check Understanding (CU)”.  The Check Understanding topic can instruct the correct roles (e.g., ScrumMaster) to confirm that their team has adoptedCheck Understanding the change, and to use the conversation to ask any additional questions for clarification.
  •  The organization can then review the CU conversation for that change to verify that all the teams are “on board.”
  • These changes are integrated with your Agile ALM solution and help drive team and organization lean-process thinking.

The end result is your ability to quickly adapt to and efficiently monitor changes.

So the answer to the question “Is the Process Fix In?” is all in the conversation, when it happened, why, who agreed to the fix, and who understands the change.

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Agile Tip: SAFe Team Program Increment Objectives in Community Topics

Using the VersionOne Communities and Topics to present team objectives is a fast and efficient way clearly display your Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) Team Program Increment (PI) objectives.  Integrated into the TeamRoom via the Topics panel, the VersionOne TeamRoom topic conversations also allow your suppliers and customers to communicate and discuss the objectives and status of different PI’s.  This can be done as a member of the team, or as a guest collaborator via an email address.Using Topics for PI Objectives

Key Benefits:

  • Alignment to the SAFe PI Objectives at any level
  • Transparency for team and leaders across the organization
  • Collaboration with your suppliers and customers
  • Ability to change as situations change by using the conversations to document decisions
  • Ability to use @Links in the rich text editor on topics to link to any other asset in VersionOne
  • History tracking of every update to the Communities > Topics

How to Use Communities and Topics for Your PI Objectives:

  • Add a new community for your team using the  VersionOne Collaboration capability
  • Create a new topic for your team’s PI Objectives (e.g. PI#xxxx)
  • Pin the topic to your TeamRoom
  • Start collaborating

TeamRoom is a trademark of VersionOne Inc. Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.

Posted in agile development, Agile Tips, Collaboration, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Program Manager, Project Manager, Scaled Agile Framework, ScrumMaster, Sprint Planning & Tracking | Leave a comment