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How to track scaled-agile (SAFe) projects in Jira with Great Gadgets app

It is well known that project monitoring is a key-factor for the success of every project. It involves tracking the project metrics, progress, and associated tasks to ensure everything is completed on time, on budget, and according to project requirements and standards. Project monitoring also includes recognizing and identifying roadblocks or issues that might arise during the project’s execution, and taking action to rectify these problems.

In a scaled agile environment, like Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) for example, where multiple agile teams work on the same release, the project tracking can be difficult to do. As Scrum Master, PO or team member you need to see if your team is on track with its contribution to the release, while as a Release Manager or Release Train Engineer (RTE) is essential to track the entire project release or Agile Release Train (ART) from the first to the last iteration of every product increment, in order to identify the potential problems and to keep the sponsors up-to-date with the overall progress.

In this article we present a method for tracking a multi-teams project release in Jira. It consists in creating and using powerful dashboards in Jira by using the gadgets offered by the Great Gadgets app, for tracking not only the overall release, but also tracking the work of every agile team that works on that release.

One dashboard for the entire release, one dashboard for every team

Our recommendation is to create one dashboard for tracking the overall release, and one dashboard for every team that works on that release.

 

For consistency, the team-specific dashboards should have the same structure (same gadgets), but obviously, configured to display their own specific data.

Metrics and charts to track

Below is a list of metrics and charts to be tracked with these dashboards. Even if some of them are “standard” metrics of Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), they are applicable in any multi-teams project.

Release Burndown Chart

This chart displays the burndown chart for the entire release. It shows the current scope (total amount of work planned) and the current remaining work vs. expected remaining work (ideal line) indicating if the release is on track or not. It is an essential chart for tracking the overall all progress of your release or ART, so this is a “must” for your release dashboard. You should also add this to the team-specific dashboards, but to configure it do display only the data of that specific team.

You can display this chart on your dashboards by using the Release Burndown Burnup Chart gadget offered by Great Gadgets app for Jira. For tracking the entire release you have to configure it to use a Jira filter that returns all the Jira issues from that release. For tracking the release part of a specific team, you have to configure it to use a Jira filter that returns all the issues from the release that belong to that specific team. Optionally, you can choose to display forecast and milestones. At your choice, it can calculate by story points, issue count, time estimates or by any numerical custom field.

Flow Load

This chart indicates how many items are in every stage of the workflow. It is a stacked area chart that shows the number of items in each column of the board or in each workflow status along the time. It helps you to determine how stable your flow is and to understand where you need to focus on making your process more predictable. It gives you quantitative and qualitative insight into past and existing problems. Flow Load is a standard metric in SAFe®. You should have this chart on both release and team-specific dashboards.

You can add this chart by using the Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) gadget offered by Great Gadgets app. All you have to do is to create a filter in Jira for the entire release and a filter for each specific team and then configure the gadgets to use them. For the release dashboards, the bands should be generated by issue statuses or by issue status categories. For the team-specific dashboards, it should be configured to generate the bands based on the columns of the team agile board. It’s up to you how the numbers will be calculated: by issue count, story points or other criteria.

Flow Velocity / Throughput

This chart displays the amount of work completed by the team in a given specific time interval like past iterations or program increments as well as the current average velocity. Flow Velocity is a standard metric in SAFe®. It is also known as “throughput”. It helps you to see how productive the team is in time and how much they delivered. This chart is a “must” for the team-specific dashboards. You should also display it on the release dashboard, but configured to display the data of the entire project team.

To display this chart on your release dashboard, use the Kanban Velocity gadget offered by Great Gadgets app configured with a filter that returns all the issues from the release. For the team-specific dashboards, you can use the same Kanban Velocity gadget, but configured to use a filter that returns only the issues of that team.

Or, if the teams use Scrum boards in Jira, use the Team Velocity gadget offered by the same Great Gadgets app for Jira.

Both these gadgets support calculation by issue count, story points, time estimates or other custom fields.

Flow Time Histogram

This chart calculates the total time the issues took to go through the workflow and displays the distribution of the values as a series of bars in the form of a histogram. It helps you determine how fast the issues are resolved, the average flow time, and how many issues had their flow time in acceptable ranges and how many did not. Flow Time is a standard metric in SAFe®. It is useful to display on both release and team-specific dashboards.

This chart can be displayed by using the Cycle Time Histogram gadget offered by Great Gadgets app. Depending on what flow time you want to measure, you can configure it to calculate the “cycle time”, “lead time” or time between two specific workflow statuses. Optionally, you can specify a threshold to easily identify the outliers.

Flow Time Trend

This gadget calculates the total time the issues took to go through the workflow and displays their average for the past time intervals representing for example, the 2-weeks long PI iterations. Use this gadget to see how fast your team delivers in time, how quickly the issues are marked as done along the time. It is useful to display on both release and team-specific dashboards.

This chart can be displayed by using the Cycle Time Trend gadget offered by Great Gadgets app. Depending on what flow time you want to measure, you can configure it to calculate the “cycle time”, “lead time” or time between two specific workflow statuses.

Flow Distribution

This chart presents the amount of each type of work (stories, bugs, enablers, etc.) along the release. Flow distribution is a standard metric in SAFe®.
It is helpful to track this metric in order to determine if there is a good balance between the amount the work for developing new features versus the amount of work on tasks for reducing technical debt, for example. It is useful to add on the release dashboard.

To display this chart, add the Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) gadget offered by offered by Great Gadgets app to your dashboard and configure it to generate the bands by issue types. Choose to calculate by issue count or by story points.

WIP Aging Chart

The Work In Progress (WIP) aging chart displays the “in-progress” items along with their age (time in status or time in board column) in a scatter-plot chart. You can use this gadget to easily identify the issues that stay longer than expected in their current workflow status. Simply hovering the mouse over an issue of the chart will display a tooltip with the issue key and its age. It is useful to have it on both release and team-specific dashboards.

This chart can be displayed by using the WIP Aging Chart gadget offered by Great Gadgets app. Also, it allows specifying a threshold line to identify those issues that have an age that exceeds the acceptable value.

Visualize WIP

This is an essential gadget for every team-specific dashboard because it shows the task board with the work-items from the current iteration in their current status or board column. The color of the cards is given by the issue’s hierarchy: purple for epics, green for stories or tasks and yellow for sub-tasks.

It might be useful to have such gadget at the release level as well, but by displaying only the high level work-items, like features or stories, because this gives you a quick idea and overview about what is in work at the current time.

You can display this on a team-specific dashboard by using the Team Wallboard gadget offered by Great Gadgets app and by configuring it to use the Jira agile board of the team and its current sprint. For displaying it on the overall release dashboard, first create a filter with the high level items (features, epics, etc.) from the release that you want to visualize and then configure the gadget to use this filter. Alternatively, you could use a Jira agile board that includes the items from all the teams.

Sprint Burndown Chart

This chart displays the burndown chart for the current iteration/sprint. It shows the current scope (total amount of work planned) and the current remaining work vs. planned remaining work (ideal line) from the sprint. This chart should exist on every team-specific dashboard.

You can display this chart on your dashboards by using the Sprint Burndown Burnup Chart gadget offered by Great Gadgets app for Jira. You can configure it to calculate by story points, issue count, time estimates or by any numerical custom field. Can be also configured a sprint burnup chart.

Project Key-Numbers

Complete your Jira dashboards by calculating and displaying other important numbers for your team or release, like percentage of work completed, bugs ratio or remaining budget.

The Advanced Issue Formula Gadget offered by Great Gadgets app allows displaying up to 6 cards with numbers calculated based on simple or more complex math formulas applied against the fields or the count of the issues from multiple Jira filters. You can use this gadget to display the key-numbers on both the overall release and the team-specific dashboards.

In the end, your Release – Overall dashboard should look like this:

And the team-specific dashboards should look like this:

That’s all. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at support@stonikbyte.com.

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