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Using Greenhopper Scrum and Kanban board functionality together.

After a bit of fiddling about today I have just been testing a setup where a Scrum board is used to deal with various story sprints which are related to Epics (I enabled the concurrent sprint in GH labs) and a Kanban board tracks the overall roadmap view (I stole the basic idea for this from a blog post about Twitter's setup!) I have found using the simplified GH workflow very flexible as you can simply add any columns you like without having to create fiddly workflow diagrams.

Anyway, I have some questions (sorry if they are very basic!)

  • Reading up online for pointers, I have taken the time to re-write some of our existing backlog requirements as Epics, and broken them down into user stories. However, I am slightly unsure how to add the common project tasks such as operations deployment tasks, testing tasks etc into this structure? It's almost as if I need a common 'project task' story that will have the common tasks that support each project?
  • I see that it's possible to add an issue (e.g. bug/story) to a sprint that has already started, but not take one out. Is that a core Scrum concept or limitation of GH?
  • Is there anything that can prompt me when a sprint time is up? At the moment it seems as though anyone can just extend the date from the Scrum board view? (although I guess security options could prevent access).
  • On a scrum planning board, you can drag stories from the backlog into the epics panel on the left and they are tagged automatically with a coloured Epic field. However, if you then view the Epic record over in Jira, the stories do not appear as sub stories. This is strange as I do see a field 'Epic link' field recorded on each story (you can reveal the value in the issue filter view screen). Is this something that may be fixed in future or have I configured something incorrectly?

Otherwise the only option seems to be creating a 'relates to' issue link from each story to the Epic. I see someone has setup 'Story's Parent' (outbound) and 'Sub-Stories' (inbound) custom link types and uses JQL J-Tricks Plugin for filtering on another post but this seems like a load of work.


7 answers

To answer the 2nd bullet point, there is an option under the Issue's operations to remove from sprint

Aha - thanks Colin! Anyone shed any light on the other questions?

>> Is there anything that can prompt me when a sprint time is up?

We use Team Calendars, and I look at the calendar literally every day. The scrum start/end dates are shown on my Team Calendar. I don't know how to make it send emails.

Another solution...Employ a "Dashboard" and use the "Greenhopper Days Remaining in Sprint" gadget. For a given Rapid board, I may n sprints running concurrently. The dashboard with 4 gadgets helps remember the sprint cycles (durations) that each sprint is on.

Rockille (point #1)>> It's almost as if I need a common 'project task' story that will have the common tasks that support each project?

Different ways to skin this one...

As to the common overhead tasks, every solution requires a bunch of infrastructure and common frameworks so the dev team can get moving. A Story, by design, solves a business capabililty. We use a zero-user story point to provide a bucket for this overhead work with subtasks as needed. I like to consider this technical debt that must be setup and configured up front on any project. No points being earned can be a heart ache for some teams, but this helps differentiate business capabilities to get a true perspective of the number of story points that the project contains. I also use subtask issue types like, "Development" and "Environment Mgmt" to help distinquish the type of work being done. In this example, tracking what the operations team does to support software development as those tasks being done by the project's architect/team lead.

As to the testing effort, we use two subtask issue types like, "Test-Manual" and "Test-Selenium". The former provides the task for the QA team member, while the latter provides the task for the developer (writes the automated code to drive a browser). See below as well...using a status on the parent issue (QA for a story) helps drive where the story is in the lifecycle while also providing a trigger for the QA team to find work.

As to the deployment tasks...consider these options.

1) Create a subtask of the story called "deploy to test".

2) Use a state in the Story workflow (e.g., Requirements Gathering-->Engineering-->QA-->Deploy-->Closed). In this case, we manually promote a story to QA once ready for testing, and tackle the deployment effort thereafter. We stay in the QA state to reach acceptance of the story. Sometimes, for a poorly coded story, we will demote it back to Engineering, etc.

Rockille (point #4) >> However, if you then view the Epic record over in Jira, the stories do not appear as sub stories.

On the admin side, assure that the "Screen" being used for your Epic screen contains the field, Epic Link. When viewing the Epic issue in JIRA, it shows a table of associated issues. I see JIRA renders 7 columns (including the Actions menu) for display. Let us know if that's not your problem. Remember, too, that JIRA only uses two levels of hierarchy - parent issues and subtasks - to form parent/child relationships. And an epic is a link relationship created between 1:M parent issues.

do you have the link to that blog post about Twitter?

Rockille - do you have the link to that blog about Twitter's agile set up?

Don't forget to set up Post Functions so you can transition your Epics on the Work board in Kanban mode - HowTo: Track Epics in the Control Chart describes the setup, users get to drag cards across the board like any other Story, and the Epic Status stays updated.

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