Best practice for breaking down work

We're working with Folio on a trial and love it so far. Something that I need to understand though is, working with orginal estimates for earned value, how are you supposed to break down initial high level estimates?

I expect the answer is something like this:

  1. Estimate your project at a high level using Stories, New Feature or Improvement issues with original estimates (they will be large due to the size of the task)
  2. When planning to work on a specific feature or improvement you break it down by creating Tasks and Subtasks each also with original estimates
  3. After having created a full breakdown of a high-level issue (Story, New Feature or Improvement), you delete that issue or set its original estimate back to zero so it is no longer accounted for in the earned value calculations

I'm unsure about the 3rd step mostly. I don't think you should be deleting issues in general in Jira, and I don't think you should really be changing original estimate values on issues either. But the latter seems to make most sense to me.

Has anybody else faced this question? Is there a best practice for this? Thanks!

 

2 answers

Hi Nathan,

The approach of removing the original estimate from the parent issues once broken down into subtasks might be ok, even though it is unfortunate to lose that piece of info.  An improvement over this could be to create a custom field where you would copy your original estimate values after creating the full breakdown so that you keep track of the initial values after setting the original estimates to 0. In all cases, I would avoid deleting the issues since they might hold critical information such as the description, attachments, links and even comments. 

Here are some other options that would let you avoid having to delete issues or zap original estimates:

  • Use issue labels: give a specific label to all issues that should be included in the earned value calculation and update your Folio's saved filter to include only issues with that label (e.g. project = ABC and labels in ('earnable')). This means that you start with all issues labeled 'earnable' and once an issue is broken down into subtasks, then you set the label on subtasks and remove it from the parent issue.
  • Play with the issue type: change the issue type to an issue type that is not spanned in the scope (JIRA saved filter) once it is broken down into subtasks.

That being said, what we usually recommend when using Folio in an Agile project is to use Story Points as the Earned Value Field. Subtasks not having story points assigned, Folio will consider only the parent issues when computing the Earned Value. That way value is earned only when the parent issue is resolved (similar to earning points in Scrum), which is also considered as best practice doing EVM. And consequently, you avoid having to do any special manipulation when breaking down issues into subtasks during sprint plannings.

I hope this helps!

Best,

Marc

Thanks - I like the idea of using labels. Instead of earnable, I might try the reverse (something like "non-earnable") since non-earnable issues would be the exception. I keep forgetting that I can adjust the filter - that definitely makes Folio a lot more flexible.

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