Cameron's must-read Portfolio for Jira tips Part II

This week's spotlight shines on @Cameron Eldridge who recently blew the Atlassian's team's socks off with his post sharing tips for Portfolio for Jira. You can read the full post below, and feel free to add your own tips or questions about Portfolio in the comments below.

(In Part I of this spotlight, Cameron doled out advice for Portfolio newbies + shared what he values most in a teammate and named Jira Jr. his second-favorite product. I laughed out loud at more than one part, you might too: Read Part I!)

As always, if you or a friend/coworker have a spotlight-worthy story to tell, send me an email to bsauer@atlassian.com. Enjoy! 

Cameron's tips on Portfolio for Jira

General

  • Make it a habit of clicking the Calculate button every time you navigate back to your plan. Data may have changed while you were away.
  • Create a page template in your Confluence space to capture requirements for each Initiative. This will help ensure everyone has a good grasp on the scope of these big work items.
    • You can link these directly to your Jira issues.
  • Create an Initiative kanban board to track the progress of high-level Portfolio items.
    • You can also create an Epic kanban board to show which Initiative each Epic is linked to.
    • Include the Parent Link field on the board's Card Layout to easily see parent Initiatives.

Committing Plan Changes

  • Try not to leave an abundance of uncommitted changes in your plan. Hundreds of uncommitted changes can make it difficult to remember everything you adjusted if you haven't visited your plan in a couple of days.
  • Ensure changes made in one scenario don't overlap with changes in another scenario. Otherwise, you may end up with conflicts that prevent you from committing changes.

Issues sources

  • Scrum teams should use boards as their issue sources to take advantage of their sprints and associated history.
    • Portfolio can calculate a suggested velocity for each scrum team based on the story points completed in previous sprints.
  • When using a single issue source in a plan with multiple teams, Portfolio often schedules work for the "incorrect" team. This is especially prevalent when teams don't have any members assigned to them.
    • Leverage the Portfolio Team field in your issues to avoid scheduling conflicts.
      • Share your plan's private teams so that you can designate them in Jira issues.
        • Of course, you'll need to add the Team field to all applicable issue screens.
      • Alleviate scheduling conflicts even further by creating a unique issue source for each team in your plan.

Multiple Scenario Planning

  • Create at least two scenarios for your plan.
    • Ensure that one of them, such as "Live," always reflects your Jira data in its current state.
  • Title your scenarios based on their purpose.
    • Examples
      • Live
      • Sandbox
      • Grooming
      • Best Case
      • Release Shift

Plan Permissions

  • Avoid giving too many users edit permissions of your plan. Committing changes back to Jira can be very dangerous.

Scheduling

  • Apply default estimates to unestimated work items to get them to show up on the timeline.
    • This is most helpful when used in Epics and Initiatives that don't contain any child issues.
  • Pay attention to the ranking of stories in your Backlog. Rank holds the most weight in Portfolio's scheduling algorithm.
    • Estimated issues not assigned to sprints will automatically be placed in fake, placeholder sprints (e.g. Sprint 1, Sprint 2, etc.) that only exist in Portfolio, especially when ranked low in the backlog.
      • As a result, the plan may appear to be overbooked. Re-rank those issues higher in the backlog, then assign them to a sprint if the overbooked schedule doesn't revert back to green.
      • If the schedule is still red, overbooking may be present elsewhere in the plan.

Leveraging Target Dates

  • Target Dates are an easy way to place ideas on the timeline. This works for unestimated items that are not assigned to a release.
    • First, ensure you have your plan configured to base unestimated item scheduling on target dates.
    • Then, use the cogwheel icon in the Scope view to expose these fields for modification.
      • Remember to click Calculate to see your changes reflected on the timeline.
    • The Target start and Target end date fields can be illustrated directly in Jira issues as of the Portfolio 2.8.0 release.

Re-prioritizing work items

  • Portfolio's drag-and-drop ranking functionality is best used for bigger items in the hierarchy, e.g. Epics and Initiatives since Portfolio only allows you to rank one item at a time.
    • If you need to re-prioritize multiple issues at the story level, rank them in your team's board(s) instead of Portfolio.
      • Clicking the Calculate button in Portfolio will cause the plan to sync with Jira.
        • The changes you make in your project(s)/board(s) will be reflected in the associated plan.

Stages and Skills

  • Stages and Skills are very advanced features of Portfolio. Do not worry about using these when you're getting started.
    • Applying stages and skills will drastically increase the amount of manual maintenance you'll need to do in your plan.

Working hours and days

  • Don't forget to add company holidays to automatically account for reduced capacity during those times.

Using the timeline

  • Remember that the timeline and scope views can be different for each user; they are not configured globally for a plan.
  • Configure the timeline and scope settings using the two cogwheel icons in the Scope view.

Configuring teams

  • Be sure to associate teams with an issue source. Not doing so can cause various scheduling errors and prevent work from showing on the timeline entirely.

Creating and managing releases

  • When you need to create releases in multiple projects that are already part of your plan, create the releases in Portfolio.
    • You can set the release dates and group them together into cross-project releases.
  • Ensure that sprint end dates align with release end dates. Sprints that end even one day after a release will cause the timeline to turn red.
    • This can be a misleading representation of being overbooked.

Excluding releases from your plan

  • Be careful when excluding releases from your plan because the issues tied to those releases will also be excluded.

Using the later release

  • The Later release lets you take advantage of Portfolio's scheduling algorithm. As long as you rank your work and have estimates (time or story points), you don't need to use releases at all!

Sharing Reports

  • Configure your view before sharing your report. When providing a link to users or embedding the report in a Confluence page, users will see your configured view.
  • Embed reports in Confluence using the report's iframe link within an HTML macro.
    • Customize the size of the iframe by adjusting the width and height parameters.
      • Setting the width to 100% will cause the iframe to span the entire width of the section in which it is embedded. 

Themes Report

  • Consider correlating the colors your Epics with your Themes to easily identify theme-related work outside of Portfolio.
    • Publish a color guide in Confluence for users and stakeholders to reference.
    • Epic colors are easily managed in the Backlog of a Scrum board.

That's it! Thanks again, Cameron, for sharing your tips, and to this Atlassian Community for continuing to create spotlight-worthy moments. As always, if you or a friend/coworker would like to be featured, comment below or send me an email to bsauer@atlassian.com. 

3 comments

hi happy to here.

this unique

Great tips, thanks for the in-depth sharing here and in Part 1. On the first couple of things,

  • Make it a habit of clicking the Calculate button every time you navigate back to your plan. Data may have changed while you were away.
  • Try not to leave an abundance of uncommitted changes in your plan. Hundreds of uncommitted changes can make it difficult to remember everything you adjusted if you haven't visited your plan in a couple of days.

I'm looking forward to seeing some product improvements to help users handle these kinds of things. ;)

Thank you. Really helpful tips.

Never gave a thought to the scenarios before. This article has made me think about it in the situation we are in and I would definitely explore it.

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