One of the more popular frameworks used by Jira Align clients today is the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Although there certainly are mixed and diverse viewpoints about SAFe, for this article let’s just consider it as an “encyclopedia” type reference of common patterns for enterprise Agile practices. Under this view, SAFe promotes various approaches which Agile leaders may want to understand and potentially consider helping plan work.
In the “Big Room” quarterly (PI) planning model, Agile teams are asked to decompose prioritized Features (Jira Epics) down to Stories, distributed across the upcoming 4 – 6 Sprint periods. This is a key intermediate deliverable from the planning event, which will ultimately set up generation of the Program Board final deliverable committed by the group on day 2. Unfortunately, I’ve observed many clients that end up short-cutting this process, resulting in a Program Board “guesstimate” that usually leads to over-commitments and under-delivery.
Product Management prepares a prioritized list of Features for the Teams coming into the planning event. The Team decomposition physical practice typically requires laying out large post-it pads of paper to represent each Sprint for a Team where Stories are allocated as yellow sticky notes and Load vs. Capacity is balanced.
(To help mitigate the stress of rapidly generating the Team’s Stories at the planning event, a common practice to pre-create some initial Stories may occur prior to event.)
The resulting view across the Sprints then provides the Team with an excellent way to visualize their contributions for the PI. It also sets up “bottoms-up” aggregation for generating Team Objectives that validate the plan supporting Features requested.
Teams using Jira Align will typically create Stories supporting their parent Features (Jira Epics) in Jira. The Jira Align connector will then automatically pull the data over into this view. Alternatively, during PI Planning even Team level users may use the Feature Backlog – List view to create “quick add” Stories inline under the prioritized Features as shown below.
In order to generate an equivalent online view for the Team breakout Sprint decompositions, it may not be obvious how to do so from Jira Align. There are currently a few important clicks required:
In the resulting view below, we can see the Story allocation of the Baltimore Team across 3 selected Sprint columns. Users can then examine the loaded Story points against Velocity for each Sprint. The Velocity is calculated in Jira Align based on the Team’s previous 5 completed Sprints, with the opportunity to Override this value based on known adjustments needed.
By clicking the Unassigned Backlog button, users can pull unscheduled Story cards into an upcoming Sprint from right to left via drag-n-drop.
Users can adjust Card Size to "Small View" to gain a more holistic view as needed:
Ultimately, as the Team is attempting to ACCURATELY project the Target Sprints for Feature completion on Program Board, the Backlog Kanban – Sprint View shown above can serve as an important underlying artifact to help assure that a reasonable Sprint Story allocation plan drives it.
You can also use this view beyond planning to look back on progress made. By setting the Card Size to "Heat Map View" as shown below, you can add several Teams in the Program as rows to generate a view across time showing Story State progress by color. This can be especially helpful for tracking trends and identifying gaps.
Check out the article from Caz “Jira Align for Release Train Engineers” for additional information about using Jira Align with the common SAFe activities related to Program Board, Dependency Management, and Objectives.
And also this one from Tom about Managing Risks:
Rob PhillipsAtlassian Team
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