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Agile schedule in BigPicture. How to set it up?

agile-schedule-big-picture.png

Why are agile schedules so effective and increasingly favored? They provide a clear outcome in an incremental way, boost team productivity, and monitor velocity. Some agile schedules, those using story points instead of time units, also encourage “acceleration”. But unlike road traffic, “putting the pedal to the metal” is much safer here ;) 

 The most “classic” building blocks for agile schedules are iterations, Sprints, program increases, and releases. Can you construct an agile schedule of DIY items, such as “marathons,” “races,” or “laps”? Yes, the fixed cadence accompanied by the variable scope is what makes sprints, iterations, increments, and even “marathons” or “laps” suitable for agile schedules. In this article, you will find out how to set up agile schedules in BigPicture Enterprise, BigPicture, and BigGantt.

The simplest workflow

The simplest possible agile schedule is a project divided into iterations/sprints, which you can quickly setup on the app’s Home/Overview page. The workflow works in both BigPicture and BigPicture Enterprise, and even BigGantt.

Step 1. Create a new program

Start building the agile schedule by simply creating a new program.

1new-agile-schedule-bigpicture.png

Figure 1. Creating a new program, naming it ‘Agile schedule.’ It will last an entire year.

 Rather than the program, you could have created an Agile project, or LeSS Requirement Area, or SAFe ART. We will discuss other options later in the article.

Step 2. Create the first iteration/sprint

Before you add an iteration to the agile schedule, select your newly added program in the top-left combo box; see figure 2. Can you see how we have selected the ‘Agile schedule’? We did that for clarity. We are now inside the program, and the rest of the portfolio does not distract us ;)

Now add the first Iteration. You could call it ‘Sprint 1’ instead of ‘Iteration 1’. Set its cadence. We have set the cadence of two whole weeks.

2creating-first-iteration-sprint.png

Figure 2. Setting up the first iteration/sprint.

How long should a Sprint last? Read on in the related article.

Step 3. Multiplying the iterations

Adding succeeding iterations is quick and easy. Note how nicely each consecutive iteration automatically increases its numbering and goes ahead with dates – similarly to a decent spreadsheet. Iteration numbers, as well as precise dates, get calculated automatically.

 3 multiplying-iterations-big-picture.png

Figure 3. Multiplying the iterations

Step 4. Adding meat and aligning with Jira

Once a schedule has been set, you can define the project scope and add a collection of Jira tasks –  so that the tasks are readily available for planning. Go to Program configuration > Tasks > Scope definition > Automatic rules. You need to be the administrator of the program for that.

While there, pay attention to the ‘Sub-elements of…’ area. You can align BigPicture iterations with Jira Sprints for instance.

 4 agile-schedule-scope-align-jira.png

Figure 4. Setting scope and aligning BigPicture iterations/sprints with Jira Sprints

Step 5. Visually review the schedule

Switch to the Timeline view to have a look at the panorama of your new schedule on a timeline. No blank spaces between the iterations? Our schedule looks good.

 5 visualize-agile-schedule-timeline.png

Figure 5. Overseeing the schedule’s integrity in Overview > Timeline view.

That is basically it. We have created a simple BigPicture agile schedule in five quick steps. The workflow is valid in BigGantt, BigPicture, and BigPicture Enterprise. The schedule is now available in BigPicture’s Board, Roadmap, and even in the Gantt module if you tick … > Show on timeline > Timeboxes in the top-right corner of the Gantt chart.

Start watching the linked below video tutorial at 6:54 to see the simple, agile schedule workflow in a mere minute (+ how to set up teams).

BigPicture Tutorial - Getting started with BigPicture and BigGantt

Two-level schedules

If your organization uses SAFe® or LeSS, you probably seek two- or even three-level agile schedules. Scaled Agile Framework for instance recommends ART > Program Increment > Iteration hierarchy. Large Scale Scrum has its Requirement Area > Sprint “tree.” Over the years, your organization might have elaborated an in-house, “you name it” methodology. How to have custom agile schedules all in BigPicture?

 Basic three-level schedule: Project >> Program Increment >> Sprint is available in BigPicture. However, if you look for more advanced templates, upgrade to BigPicture Enterprise. The enterprise edition has two things that the regular BigPicture doesn’t have: 

  • preset SAFe and LeSS “templates.” No wheels spinning on your side. You have them preconfigured in BigPicture Enterprise out of the box.
  • an unlimited number of slots for your DIY templates, such as the previous marathons, races, or laps.

The regular BigPicture has just Programs, Program Increments, and Iterations. That’s it – three slots for templates. “Mixes” of agile, classic, and hybrid initiatives are way easier in BigPicture Enterprise. The enterprise edition should be your first bet for portfolio management and scaling agile.

Example

Let us suppose your in-house methodology has the following agile schedule structure:
Agile project > Release > Sprint.

How to set it up in BigPicture Enterprise? We followed this workflow:

  1. BigPicture > Administration > Box types
  2. BigPicture Enterprise has the ‘Agile Project’ and ‘Sprint’ templates readily available, out of the box.
  3. We created the Release Box type, which BigPicture Enterprise does not have, by hitting the ‘Add new Box type’ button, see figure 7. Now, we added the Agile Project as Release’s parent.
  4. We edited the Sprint – added Release as its parent.

6 custom-release-agile-schedule.png

Figure 6. Designing the custom Agile project > Release > Sprint agile schedule.

Now that we have designed the Agile Project > Release > Sprint schedule, we are ready to have many of them throughout BigPicture. Just reiterate with ‘The simplest workflow’ that commences the article to build something like this:

7agile-project-release-sprint.png

Figure 7. The custom agile schedule is seen within the portfolio Overview in BigPicture Enterprise.

Agile schedule in Gantt chart

You can base your agile schedule on BigPicture’s Gantt module rather than on the Board or Roadmap module with one extra step. The Gantt chart timeline typically has daily precision, while agile teams do not plan so precisely. All they know is that they would complete a task before the end of a sprint.

For the tasks to fit the sprints nicely on Gantt’s timeline, you will want to select ‘Precise alignment’ or ‘Smart alignment’ in your agile schedule’s configuration > Tasks > Scheduling, as seen in figure 8. Otherwise – with ‘No alignment’ selected – the task representing bars might overflow the boundaries of your sprints.

task-period-alignment-760x428.png

Figure 8. For your tasks not to overflow sprints’ boundaries in the Gantt chart’s timeline, you need to pick either the ‘Precise alignment’ or ‘Smart adjustment’ and not the ‘No alignment’ within the configuration of your agile schedule.

Automated archiving of completed Sprints

Set automated archiving of completed sprints, iterations, or releases to keep your real-life agile schedule clear for everybody.

auto-archive-sprints-iterations.png

Figure 9. For prevalently agile environments, set fewer than 180 days here, perhaps 60 days. Go to BigPicture configuration > Modules > Overview > Box auto-archiving. This way, completed sprints, iterations won’t obfuscate the big picture.

Conclusion

The agile schedule is available in BigPicture Enterprise, BigPicture, and even BigGantt. The first of the three permits true portfolio management, as it has preset templates for SAFe, LeSS, and unlimited template slots for DIY methodologies.

On the other hand, BigPicture has just three slots, but it makes up having Board and Roadmap modules – tools for managing agile schedules. BigPicture Enterprise has these two tools too, of course.

BigGantt as an agile tool is the last resort. It has just three slots for templates, occupied by Program, Program Increment, and Sprint, as is the case with regular BigPicture. But it lacks the Board and Roadmap modules. You are left with the Gantt chart equipped with the Timeboxes overlay – something good enough if all you need is a simple, agile roadmap.

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