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Consolidated Backlogs with Jira Align

Managing & tracking backlogs can be a daunting task for Product teams especially in Enterprises having dozens of scrums teams working across the globe on multiple critical initiatives. Jira Align helps organisations in aligning strategy with execution and among the plethora of features it offers, one of them is giving real-time insights into product backlog across programs and across teams.

Most organisations follow a certain cadence when it comes to delivering features in form of releases to customers, and for organisations following a large scale Agile model (SAFe or something developed in-house), it can be the Program Increment or a Release planning or a Quarterly planning.

For the Product and Management team, it’s becomes quite a challenge to see the consolidated view of planned work items for the next PI and future PIs. And even if they are able to get a consolidated view, the next challenge is how to categorise the features across programs and team. So that they can get real-time insights about the features being delivered by the teams and the ability to gauge progress across the whole program.

Organisations which are using Jira, generally try achieving a program view or a “across teams” view with Kanban boards and JQL filters. But trying to categorise work on the lines of Program increment, teams, programs or products becomes quite hard as Jira works amazingly well at the team level but for the level above teams, everything requires a custom field in Jira, for products, program increments, programs etc and before we know it, the JQL filters and the boards become very complex & hard to maintain. Since Jira Align is built from ground up for scale most of the required functionalities around program, portfolio & product management are provided out of the box and are first class citizens of the Align.

Using some interesting screenshots I will be showcasing how you can manage and visualise your feature backlogs for current and future PIs (release cycles) across programs.

1st_image_ProgramOverview.png

The above screenshot is the feature backlog view here you can see 2 programs selected at the top, in red rectangle (Mobile and Web). We have also selected the corresponding PI which is PI-5 in this case. It’s possible to select multiple PIs and multiple programs in order to get the view of future planned work as well.

Now, once I expand the feature set under Mobile, I get the following

2nd_image_MobileProgram_Overview.png

 

So on the page, once I start expanding the feature set under different programs, I will see all the features belonging to different programs like Mobile, Web etc for the current PI and the future PI.

Even the ability to see features across programs and across PIs which I just shared with you is pretty insightful for the product and management team and to add icing on the cake we can further categorise it by filtering it by teams.

3rd Image_Across_team_progress.png

In the above screenshot you can see the feature set for Mobile program getting categorised as per the teams working on the stories belonging to those features.

In the Jira Align, a Program is made up of teams and each of these teams represents a Agile team having a Scrum/Kanban board in the connected Jira Instance. The following structure screenshot from Align will make things more clear

 

4rth_image_structure.png

 

So here you can see the teams which make up the Mobile program and the Mobile program itself along with other programs is part of the “Digital Services” portfolio and many such portfolios are connected to the enterprise wide themes and strategy thus creating a clear alignment across the organisation.

In the following screenshot you can see how easy it is to visualise backlog and progress for program features across multiple PIs (present or future).

5th Image_across_multiplePIs.png

Once we expand the feature set we can see the features planned for the future PI i.e. PI-6 along with the current PI i.e. PI-5.

I hope by reading this article you get an idea of how easy yet powerful it is to get an complete overview of the backlog across programs, and teams. We can also take it to an level up by using portfolio instead of programs on the top left context selector and using SAFe Epics backlog instead of feature backlog.

3 comments

Great article, Tarun!

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LarryBrock Community Leader Jan 22, 2020

Thanks for the informative article @Tarun Sapra !  I like how the view can be organized by team to get an idea of the load for that team in the selected planning intervals.

In the screenshot of the feature set expansions, the grey bars between the columns are different lengths.  Are these indicators of the number of items in the column to the left of the bar?

~~Larry Brock

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Rich Sparks Atlassian Team Jan 23, 2020

@LarryBrock those gray bars are the scroll bars for each of the different iterations. It shows you where you can scroll down to see more items. You can see how the second column doesn't have the scroll bar because there are only two items, so there's nothing more to see. 

The bar is the first column is shorter than in the other columns because there are more items in the first column, so more scrolling is possible.

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