How to use Agile Board
Agile Board is a plugin for Easy Project for agile development, known from Scrum and Kanban methodologies, which shows you sprint, backlog, tasks in backlog and their statuses. The purpose of this extension is to help you with the agile management or implementations of agile methodology into your company.
Table of contents
Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development. It defines "a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal", challenges assumptions of the "traditional, sequential approach" to product development, and enables teams to self-organize by encouraging physical co-location or close online collaboration of all team members, as well as daily face-to-face communication among all team members and disciplines involved. A key principle of Scrum is its recognition that during product development, the customers can change their minds about what they want and need (often called requirements volatility) and that unpredicted challenges cannot be easily addressed in a traditional predictive or planned manner.
Kanban is a method for managing knowledge work which balances demands for work with the available capacity for new work. Work items are visualized to give participants a view of progress and process, from task definition to customer delivery. Team members "pull" work as capacity permits, rather than work being "pushed" into the process when requested. In software development, Kanban provides a visual process-management system which aids decision-making about what, when and how much to produce. Although the method (inspired by the Toyota Production System and lean manufacturing) originated in software development and IT, it may be applied to any professional service whose work outcome is intangible rather than physical.
How to get the plugin
The functionality is available for Easy Project as a separate plugin to purchase via the Customer Portal.
Activating Scrum/Kanban on a project
If you have purchased and installed the plugin, make sure it's activated in Easy Project. This can be found out in More: Administration: Plugins: Advanced Project Management as shown below.
Agile Board is a project-level module so the first step is to turn it on within a particular project as follows:
- Open a particular project where you need to have Agile Board.
- Go to Settings > Modules.
- Check "Easy scrum board" checkbox to activate Scrum board and/or "Easy kanban board" checkbox to activate Kanban and click Save.
- Now, you should see Scrum board and/or Kanban tabs in your project's top menu as shown below.
Roles and permissions
The necessary project permissions related to Scrum board and Kanban can be configured in More: Administration: Roles and permissions.
Scrum board - creating a new sprint
To enter Scrum board, click on the respective tab within project's menu. You get to a page where you can create your first sprint.
Fill in mandatory fields which are:
- The name of your sprint
- Start date (should not be in the past)
Voluntary options include:
- Goal for this sprint
- Due date (must be later than start date, may be left empty)
- Milestone (all tasks in the sprint will also be associated with this milestone)
- Use tasks from all projects (allows you to add tasks from other projects into this sprint)
- Show tasks closed in the last X days (number of days for which closed tasks are visible within the Done column - older ones will be hidden)
- If you create your first sprint, just keep option "Do not move tasks" checked. Otherwise, you can move tasks from other selected sprint or all existing sprints into the new sprint.
Scrum board - managing project backlog
After creation of a new sprint, you are on Project backlog page with three columns: Tasks for the backlog, Project backlog, and Sprint backlog. In the first column, you find all the tasks that match your filters default or any custom filter you set. It is recommended to save some filters in this view. Then you can simply load the list of tasks you want to add to project backlog or sprint backlog.
You can simply drag and drop any of them to Project backlog or Sprint backlog. Project backlog column serves to help you select and save which of the tasks are relevant for the agile processing and manually set the order at which you prefer them to be moved to Sprint. Nevertheless, Project backlog column is not necessary to use as you can drag and drop tasks directly from Tasks for the backlog to Sprint backlog. When a task is moved to Sprint backlog, it becomes linked to a particular sprint. Don't forget that one task can be linked to one sprint only.
Scrum board - managing the sprint
Now you see the Sprint overview with tasks in Sprint backlog on the left side and several empty columns which represent various statuses (i.e. phases) of the sprint. By default, there are New, Realization, To check and Done. Next to the name of the status, may be a set of numbers (e.g. 38/45) - this represents sum of story points (or a different weight of tasks) in vs. total story points (weight) in the sprint. What value is used here can be configured in setting value info (see in chapter Settings).
Using drag and drop function, you can move single tasks from Sprint backlog to the statuses as they go through the completion progress. By moving the mouse pointer over any task in the sprint, a small window with additional details about the task appears (see the below image) so it's not necessary to open it every time you search for some details. In the sidebar menu, you can easily create a new sprint, switch between existing sprints or use any of the sidebar options as illustrated below. Next to the sprint name are 3 icons that can be used to edit, close or delete the sprint.
In the upper part of the sprint view, there is a drop-down menu designed to toggle swimlane view of the sprint. This allows you to see the tasks in a chess order and grouped by a selected attribute, namely parent task, assignee, priority, tracker, author, and milestone. By moving tasks between these groups, you may easily and quickly change the respective attribute of the tasks such as (re)assign them to selected persons, change priority, or connect it with a milestone as shown in the below animation.
Anytime you need to edit a task, take the opportunity of a handy context menu which is accessible via right mouse click on a particular task as illustrated below. You can select, move and edit even two or more tasks in bulk just by pressing SHIFT/CTRL key + use left mouse button to select all the tasks you need to update. Then perform a drag and drop operation or any command from the context menu.
Scrum board - charts
Check out a 30-minute video tutorial on how to use the burndown chart in the Scrum board plugin. To play the video, you will be asked to install a WebEx browser extension. In the video tutorial, jump to 1:20 when the training part begins.
A burndown chart is a graphical representation of work left to do versus time. The outstanding work (or backlog) is often on the vertical axis, with time along the horizontal. That is, it is a run chart of outstanding work. It is useful for predicting when all of the work will be completed. Burndowns charts are among the most common sprint tracking mechanisms used by Agile practitioners.
By clicking on Charts button in the right menu, you will see a synoptic burn-down chart with 4 indicators:
- Ideal work remaining (blue) tells you how much work should be remaining in a specific moment in time in order to finish the sprint on time
- Real work remaining (orange) tells you how much work is really remaining as a comparison to ideal work remaining
- Tasks remaining (green) tells you how many tasks remain in single days of the sprint based on their start dates, due dates, and statuses
- Tasks completed (red) show an amount of tasks completed in single days of the sprint
A burn-down chart may look like this.
Kanban - managing project backlog
Kanban's project backlog is a bit simpler compared to that of Scrum board as illustrated in the below image. It has only two columns: Tasks for backlog and Project backlog. All tasks you move into the project backlog become a part of Kanban board. If you need to search for tasks quickly, use the presence of search box up the page or set up a filter to see only required tasks.
Kanban - managing Kanban board
The Kanban board can be accessed by clicking on the respective green button in the sidebar as shown in the previous image. It may look like on the below image. Analogously to the Scrum board, in Kanban board, you may create an unlimited number of phases/states and link these with different task statuses. Tasks are supposed to be moved from left to right, one step after another, and fully completed by entering the last column (Done). Of course, swimlanes are available using the same drop-down menu on the page as in Scrum board. The same applies for a context menu accessible via right mouse button and bulk selection of tasks using CTRL/SHIFT key.
The settings are very similar both for Scrum and Kanban boards so we can go through it in one pass. You can access the Settings by clicking on the following button in the sidebar.
Here you can create new statuses (i.e. columns, phases) of the sprint via New kanban state button. Then you can rename it by editing the name in Kanban state field. If you need to remove status from the sprint, just click on Delete button on the right side. Additionally, you can set up automatic relocation of tasks with a specific status into a particular status of the sprint - this is called "contains these task statuses" option. For example, a task with status changed to Canceled will automatically move to Done column, while a new one will move into New column. This feature saves time compared with manual relocation. Once one task status is linked with one Kanban state, it becomes unavailable for other Kanban states in order to prevent errors.
Moreover, when a task is relocated into a specific column, you may need it automatically changes its status ("Task status" option) as well as Assignee ("and change assignee to" option). For example, if you drag a task in the Agile board to column To Check, the task will be changed to status To Check. In Others, you may set up some additional information to be visible on each task card in the sprint view. Subtitle means the information shown just below the task name. Value info stands for a numerical value shown in the top right corner of each task card. This value is used to calculate different variables in burn down chart, which means that changing it will change the chart appearance as well.
Analogically, you can use the Additional options to show the avatar of the assignee, one or more selected dates you need to see (such as start date, due date, created...), and tracker icon. Preview highlights where is such information going to be situated in the card. Finally, there is a checkbox to enable or disable workflow settings on the sprint. When you have your settings appropriately modified and you need to apply them immediately, click Recalculate statuses button on the bottom (available only in Scrum, not in Kanban) which will rearrange the tasks according to the status/column setting. Finally, save the changes you made by clicking on the Update button.
The setting Value info is used to calculate burndown chart as well as task volume in each column of the scrum board. In accordance to scrum methodology, the correct setting should be Estimated time or Story points. The other options are only allowed for specific individual use and the resulting calculations of the burndown chart and column volumes may be incorrect or misleading. This is especially true for option estimated time - spent time, which is not recommended.
How to add the plugin to a project overview page and a personal homepage
You can simply customize your personal homepage and project overview page by entering the edit mode by clicking on the following button on the left side down of a particular page.
Here you select modules to be placed in various sections of the page. To add an Agile Board module on the page, just select it from the drop-down list as shown below and save.
Release notes for 2016.05
New Agile Board was boosted with new stunning features, such as kanban output on any set of tasks, context menu on cards in kanban and scrum board, dragging multiple tasks at once, more swimlane types and then some.
Important: Previously named project module Agile board has been changed to Scrum board - better reflecting it's capabilities. A new project module will be added - Kanban. More on Kanban below.
Page module Agile board (which you can use on customizable pages) was also renamed to Scrum board, but more importantly, its settings have changed - it will not be possible to show selected sprint, you can only choose the project. Scrum framework does not allow to have multiple open sprints on one project and therefore it was removed, this setting is useless.
Before installing version 2016.05 on your current Easy Project, verify your "older" sprints shown on any customizable page (project overview, personal pages, easy dashboards, helpdesk dashboard, etc.). If you find any Agile board modules set for a particular sprint, these will be reset to the most recent sprint in the respective project - the setting will be lost.
If you used never-ending sprints for some of your continuous work, you can now switch to the new module KANBAN board. Kanban is exactly for managing continuous work, it was there before scrum came and introduced sprints.