Guardrails for Backlog Items-7 Things Every Story Needs

People ask us all the time – “What are the must use fields that every team should use?” While this is the ultimate “It Depends” answer, I have found that setting a few key guardrails for team across the enterprise will give you the best possible chance for decision making, accelerating delivery, and ensuring alignment from the boardroom to the TeamRoom™.

7 things for backlog items

Here are the seven things that can help your company’s product backlog become a strategic alignment machine.

  1. REAL RELEASES – Every backlog item must be linked to a project asset (e.g. release). Why not make the release meaningful, and consistent? It’s very easy to see when the Quick Status Check story will be delivered and when if the story is linked to the release named “11.30.15 – Release 1.0”. In my Scrum Master world, no story is committed to production without being tied in the Org Level hierarchy to a date-based release. Try to keep your project levels as lean a possible.
  2. PORTFOLIO ITEM – All backlog items should roll-up to an item in the company’s portfolio. That is the best way to provide the visibility and transparency that leaders need to help make better decisions and support the teams overall.
  3. SIZE – Point estimates provide a relative ranking of the size of your backlog and are one measure of the potential delivery of a sprint, release, or feature.
  4. TEAM – Align the work to the team; it’s the agile way. Assigning the work to a team is even more important than an owner. The team will take it from here.
  5. DEPENDENCIES – Establish the upstream and downstream dependencies to track and manage any potential problems, and to help notify other teams of things you might be putting in their way.
  6. BLOCKERS – Is the story in trouble? Blockers are the main way to truly know this. Be transparent and use blockers to do your dirty work.
  7. CONVERSATIONS – Document all conversations associated to that backlog item using meaningful and descriptive conversations.

When every team across your enterprise follows these seven rules, your portfolio, program and team level reporting has the consistency and predictably you need to improve decision making, accelerate delivery, and ensure alignment.

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Posted in Agile Champion, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Program Manager, Project Manager, ScrumMaster | Leave a comment

Tracking Actual Effort and To-Do (Remaining) Hours

Are you tracking your to-do and effort hours the most efficient way in VersionOne? You don’t need to edit your tasks or stories to update these values. By using the Track capability, members can apply actual hours and remaining hours by using the pull-down menu on the task or test that they are working on. In addition, they can track their hours worked and the hours to do (remaining) hours for that task.

Key Benefits and Uses:

  • Quick way to track hours
  • Can apply hours for multiple people at the same time if more than one person is assigned to the task/test/story
  • Easy to report remaining “to do” hours
  • Available on the TeamRoom™ boards and in the tracking boards as well
  • Also works at the story level if you are tracking hours on stories

Tracking Time in Team Room


Posted in Developer, Product Tips & Tricks, QA Tester, ScrumMaster, Sprint Planning & Tracking | Leave a comment

Next Sprint Cut Line in the VersionOne TeamRoom Backlog Panel

What does that line in the backlog list in your VersionOne TeamRoom™ represent? It’s the next sprint cut line based on your team’s average velocity and the prioritized backlog for your team.  It’s also a great reason to make sure your backlog stories have estimates.  Check it out today.

Key Benefits:

  • Easy way to see upcoming sprint work
  • Uses the average velocity number to determine next sprint cut line
  • Helps team prioritize and plan the current and upcoming sprints

next sprint

Posted in agile project management, Backlog Management, Product Owner, ScrumMaster, Sprint Planning & Tracking | Leave a comment