Backlog Item Count by Project

The VersionOne Backlog Item Count by Project analytics report is a great visual way to see backlog items closed, added and planned along with percent completed.  This one-stop Analytics Report has everything that a product owner, Scrum Master or team member could need to see how well they are managing flow and change for their projects.

Key Benefits and Uses:

  • Visual report of planned, added and closed backlog items and percent complete
  • Can use an offset, say three days into a project to lock down the planned backlog items
  • Helps track and manage changes
  • Available in the  PlanningRoom™ or Analytics dashboards
  • Also available by sprint in the Backlog Item Count by Sprint report

Posted in Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Reporting & Analytics, ScrumMaster | Leave a comment

How Much Ceremony Do We Need?

The agile world has a number of myths that tend to be perpetuated, often for private agendas. One of them is that agile means no documentation or formality in its approach. A counter to this are the conversations about professional behaviour as described in “The Clean Coder” from Robert Martin, or Uncle Bob as some know him. This kind of behaviour means that we recognise the nature of the work we do and the requirements for ceremony that is required for it – in short that we act as professionals.

Let’s look at this question of ceremony first by defining ceremony and understanding what it means. Ceremony has a number of aspects and we can turn up and turn down the level that we apply each of these aspects. As professionals, sometime we can’t make popular or easy decisions, but considered ones. Here are some example aspects, with a short discussion about options.


Now there is quite a lot to talk about here and some people will say that some of the extremes are not agile. But we are professional, so what is the right level and why? Take two examples.

  1. We are coding a web site for curry recipes and need to be able to provide a few basics such as search, create, update, read and delete services. OK it should look nice and be easy to use. There may be some security NFRs as well, but no personal data is maintained in the system.
  2. We are coding a system that monitors the status of various points in a nuclear power plant. If something is going wrong we shut the reactor down. It must never fail. If something unexpected happens shut down now, better safe than sorry. Demonstrate that this is so.

That seems pretty clear. So the first agreement is that we would use an agile approach in both cases. I say yes as disciplined agile is the best way to produce code to the level of quality needed. But consider the ceremony dial, where do we set it for each of these situations, and again why. Please bear in mind that we have a professional standard to maintain. This includes the need to deliver value for money, over-engineering is as bad as under-engineering.

So now let’s think about this from the point of view of the aspects that we have looked at. Do you agree with the following? Yes/No and Why/Why Not.Ceremony2

In some cases the level of ceremony is not optional. The regulatory requirement for a safety critical application would demand that certain things happen. Consider what would happen if the recipe site crashed, the worst case is that dinner will be late. What if the nuclear reactor safety system fails? Will the police be involved, lawyers? If it turned out to be software that you wrote, and you couldn’t prove that you met the required regulations what could happen? You might lose a client, or your liberty. And could you live with yourself for the consequences?

In all cases the level of ceremony should be decided upon and not defaulted because we cannot be bothered to think about it. In the extreme example it is hardly a surprise that we need to crank everything up to really loud, man. But what is the minimal level that we should agree to. Remember we have professional standards that we need to maintain. We follow Test Driven Development (TDD) because it is our natural tendency. Someone coming up behind us will need some clues as to how we created the application and how they can extend it.

Using a platform such as the VersionOne Enteprise Agile platform will put some of the aspects higher up the volume scale automatically. For example an audit trail will be in place as you work through epics, features stories, tasks and tests. So this may start at “7” and be taken high by including additional artifacts in the audit trail.

In all cases you may need to justify your decisions, in some cases to a court, which may be uncomfortable. Make sure that what-ever level you turn the knob to, that you can justify it as being an appropriate decision. And please stay out of jail!

About the Author

versionone-coaches-mike-carew-150x150Mike Carew
SAFe Program Consultant, Chartered Engineer, IC Agile Certified Professional

Mike Carew is focused on helping European organizations adopt the VersionOne platform on their agile journeys. Mike has been involved in every aspect of software business including support, development, operations, management and services. At HP he established the EMEA agile practice. Mike has coached teams and corporations from the FTSE 100, non-listed and government. He brings a pragmatic approach to coaching since he sees that there is no such thing as a one size fits all.

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There’s an API for That… How to Get Lots of Information in a Few Moments

image002A few days ago, I was using my smartphone and wanted to get some more information about the weather besides just the basics of temperature and local conditions i.e. sunny, cloudy and such.  I was reminded of the contemporary colloquialism “There’s an APP for that” so I browsed in the online store and sure enough there were plenty of them offering such things as air speed, barometers, wind direction, moon phase, etc., etc.

After choosing one, I downloaded it and it was simple to setup providing a whole lot more information in a few moments.  And now, it’s available whenever I need it.  I’m surprised that I didn’t set this up years ago.

Along those same lines…image004

VersionOne has an API (Application Programming Interface), which can give lots of information in a few moments as well.  Yes, it is powerful so this might sound strange that it’s really easy to use.  I’ll say it this way…if you can type a URL, you can use the VersionOne API. This is done in the form of a query and returns a set of data for the answer. NO CODE needed.

Why would you want to use the API instead of reports?  Good question. 

Just like the regular regional weather forecast, there are many good standard reports ready to run inline embedded in VersionOne or in the general “reports” area.  Still, there are times when it helps to have a more detailed version of the weather by selecting options like air speed, barometers, wind direction, or moon phase.  In similar fashion, entering different parameters with the API can produce more targeted data than what is available in the report specification.  Using the API allows this to happen easily and quickly.

Example 1 – The Data API

image006The first place to start is with the Data API, which provides access to the production database.  Go to your favorite Browser and login to your instance of VersionOne.  Once signed in, queries can be run without having to put security credentials in again.  Also, keep in mind that the queries will be limited to the current role, project access, etc.  

Once logged in, copy the Base URL from the Browser address bar for the VersionOne instance.  Example: instance)

***Be aware that if you are typing a URL, it is case sensitive.

Open a new tab in the browser and paste the Base URL in…then add:
/rest-1.v1/Data/Epic and press the “Enter” key to run your query.


This will give you a list of ALL the epics in your instance with direct access to the production database.  They are listed as a group of assets in XML format with attribute information, etc.  The total attribute shows how many were found such as total=40 in the example.  The word epic is the parameter and can be substituted for any asset such as story, defect, task or test.   Remember this query returns ALL Epics so it may take a while to run and it could become a performance drag on the production database.  For this reason, the query should always be filtered for smaller and faster results.

Let’s add another parameter as a filter to the query to reduce the size of the answer.  In the set of information returned, there are attributes and relations.  One of the relations is scope, which is the project or planning level in VersionOne.  This can be used in the query to limit the result to only one project or planning level.   Add the following to the query in the address bar:  ?where=Scope.Name=’Your Project Name’ and make sure to change the parameter to your project name.

image010This is the “where” keyword which facilitates adding parameters to the query.  To add additional parameters, use a “;” between each one on the address bar.  Hit enter and watch the results.  Look at the total again…it should be lower and the query will run faster.

Example 2 – The Meta API

image012There are also many attributes in the epic itself, some of which may not have been seen before.  These attributes can be viewed as part of the Meta API.  For the next example, let’s look at the attributes of an epic a little bit closer.

Open a new tab in the browser and paste the same base URL from above in…then add: meta.v1/Epic?xsl=api.xsl and press the “enter” key to run your query.  The “xsl=api.xsl” portion helps to format the result making it easier to read.

image013The new view is showing the Metadata for the Epic including attributes and operations. This type of query gives a complete view of the data available for each type of asset.  Again, changing the “epic” keyword in the query to story, task, etc. will show their metadata.

The red asterisk indicates the “required” attributes, which must have data in them.  The rest of the attributes are optional but available for data input by the user or the system.

Example 3 – Selecting Attributes

There are also many attributes in the epic itself, some of which may not have been seen before.  For the next example, create another query with just a few attributes.

Go back to the tab in the browser with the address using the data API and add: &sel=Name,Scope.Name and press the “enter” key to run the query.


The updated view still only shows the epics in the scope of the where keyword but now just with the name and scope attributes selected.  Adding the “&” allows both the “where” and “sel” parameters in one query.


Just like in the real world when you need some more information and there is an App for it, you now know there is an API for querying information from VersionOne. There are many other things that can be done with the API and plenty of documentation for it located on the VersionOne Developer Library.

image018The main thing is to get started and see all the information waiting for you in just a few moments.  It just might turn your day from cloudy to sunny very quickly.


versionone-coaches-kelly-keyAbout the Author
Kelly Key
SAFe Agilist, PSM1, MOL, PSD

Kelly has more than 25 years of experience in the software industry and 19 years working with agile practices. As an agile program manager, ScrumMaster, agile coach, and VersionOne administrator, Kelly has helped create successful products in the desktop, dot com, and mobile space for the airline, hotel, rental car, rail and cruise industries. As a thought leader, he is always looking to refine processes with continuous improvement while stimulating innovation.


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