Planning

The Planning component of Rational Team Concert provides tools to assist with the planning and execution of both agile and traditional projects. For agile projects, it provides tools to create product, release and sprint backlogs for teams, to create individual plans for developers, and to track the progress during an iteration and to balance the work load of developers. For traditional projects, Rational Team Concert supports schedule dependencies and constraints and a Gantt chart editor to create project plans. Regardless of the process used, plans are accessible to everyone on the team, and can change dynamically over the course of the project to reflect the team’s position and direction.

Examples of Planning components include the following:

Traditional Planning

For traditional projects, the planning component provides tools to assist with the planning and execution of an overall release or for one of the phases “Requirements, Design, Implementation, and Testing”. Use the Formal Project Management Process template to create a traditional project. The plan editor then supports schedule dependencies and constraints and a Gantt chart editor to create a project or phase plan.

On the Resources tab, you can view work items, allocate resources, add date ranges for resources, and modify resource allocations. You can search for available resources and add them to project. When you add resources, you allocate them for a specific period.


Agile Planning

For agile projects, the planning component provides tools to assist with the planning and execution of the overall product backlog, releases, iterations as well as the daily developer work, thereby providing full support for the three innermost levels of Mike Cohn’s planning onion(1).

Planning a Sprint

You can use plan editors to manage sprint backlogs as well. As with a product backlog, the editor assists you with stack ranking your sprint backlog. In addition, the plan editor provides a view to see the work breakdown structure of stories into the implementing tasks, grouped by the owner of the work items. Drag and drop or specific keyboard actions are used to manipulate the work breakdown structure or reassign the task to do load balancing. Key work item attributes like the estimate of a task can be changed in place and the changes are immediately reflected in the corresponding progress and load bars.

Use the Taskboard view to run your daily Scrum meetings. The view will render all work items as cards on a board, arranging them in columns representing three states: Todo, In Progress, and Done. This allows for a quick overview of your work, and it’s straightforward to mark something as done: simply drag it from one column to another.



Assess the risk of a sprint

Work item owners can specify minimum and maximum estimates in addition to the already existing estimates. This information is used to simulate the probability of work items being completed on time using a Monte Carlo method(2).

Assuming that each developer completes his assigned work items in the same order as specified in the Current Work section of the My Work view, the “probability of completion” for a work item is indicated using a color gradient from white to red – from very probable to improbable.



Planning the Daily Work

Planning the developer’s daily work is essential to track the overall progress of a sprint and to do proper load balancing between team members. To make this as smooth as possible for developers to let them focus on writing code, Rational Team Concert equips developers with the My Work view. The My Work view is your personal view onto all work items that are assigned to you and allows for in- place scheduling and estimation.



Progress information

The Plan editor will keep you updated about the progress of your team for a single sprint or for the project for a whole release. Understand progress as the ratio of finished and remaining work, e.g. “160 of 317 hours of work are done” for Sprint Backlogs and “13 of 42 story points are done” for Product Backlogs.

The progress information will also provide a constant velocity projection based on the past and the amount of work time remaining. So if the past work time is 9 hours and you completed work you had estimated at 3 hours, the projection assumes that you’ll need three times as much work time as estimated for the work that remains. Comparing the projected value to the remaining work time lets you know whether you are ahead or behind your target. The same projection is done for product backlogs using story points as the sizing attribute.

Again, you want the bar to be green. Working at a velocity so that all your work is done when the iteration ends fills the bar horizontally. Estimating all your work fills it vertically.

Track the overall progress

Use the project dashboard to track the progress of the release and its sprints, to see your burndown rate, or to check the team’s velocity. The project dashboard is highly configurable and offers a variety of preconfigured reports and useful work item queries.

Dashboard



Project your plan onto a timeline

Use the Roadmap view to project our sprint or release backlog onto a timeline. For sprint backlogs the view illustrates the schedule of the execution items (e.g. defects and tasks) and the rolled-up schedule of the stories and epics. For release backlogs it illustrates the schedule of the stories and epics.

Create and organize new work items

The Planned Items page is the perfect place to create new work items since the work items inherit the team area and iteration from the iteration plan and, hence, will be part of the plan. To create new work items, select a suitable work item type from the Add Work Item context menu (or press Ctrl +Enter).

Work items can be arranged hierarchically to decompose larger work items into smaller work units.

Reading and modifying work items

Most properties of a work item can be modified inline within the Planned Items page. Some properties, such as the description, can be modified using the in-place work item editor.

Snapshots

A plan snapshot captures the current state of the plan, including the work items and their schedules, the owning team area, and the iteration the plan is created for. Snapshots come in different flavors:

  • Regular: a normal snapshot. Typically created before major changes to a plan are done.
  • Planned: a snapshot that that captures a version a plan that is committed to the outside. The schedule captured by a planned snapshot can be shown in the plan and work item editor.
  • Proposed: a special snapshot type only available for traditional projects. A proposed snapshot is typically created before resources are allocated to the project.

Besides creating snapshots, you can compare snapshots as well. Either compare two individual snapshots or compare a snapshot to the current version of a plan.



Configure your work environment

Use the Work Environment tab in the User editor to change your work days, work location, and work assignment. By default, a standard work week is five 8-hour days ending at the same time each day, split evenly among the teams of which you’re a member.

Unstructured information

To capture unstructured information such as an important demo date or initial feature ideas, the plan editor provides a predefined page named Overview. The page’s content is edited using a wiki style syntax which supports linking other artifacts. You can add additional pages to a plan by pressing the Add Page button create-page in the local tool bar.

Colorful Plans

You can use color to highlight work items in plans. Simply specify a search criteria and a color to have all matching work items highlighted. This lets you draw attention to important items, or ones deserving special attention.

The My Work view provides the colorize feature to let users highlight important work items on their personal plans as well.

Import and Export Microsoft® Project Plans

You can import and export a plan from/to Microsoft Project. To import a plan, save the Microsoft Project file as an .xml file and import the .xml file. You can map the task types from Microsoft Project to the work item types in your project, specify the date range for the plan, and map resources from the imported plan to the current plan.

Team load section

Being part of the Team Central view, the Team Load section shows load bars for a selected team and iteration. A load bar is a graphic representation of work load – the ratio of remaining work and available work time.

A load bar is green if there is still time to complete all the work, and red when there isn’t. Because the computation depends on work item estimates, the percentages of estimated work items is shown as a fill level. As usual, you want the bar to be green. Get the right amount or work assigned and the bar grows horizontally. Estimate well and the bar grows vertically.

Use the Team Load section when distributing work among team members. Not only can you see the work load of each team member, but you can also reassign work items by dragging them onto the corresponding bar. Use the different Show context menu actions to query the work items assigned to a particular person or to list current or recent work, etc.

Schedule absences

Use the Scheduled Absences tab in the user editor to note planned absences like business trips, vacation, etc. This information helps with the automatic planning of your work over the iteration.




Managing a Product Backlog

A product backlog is managed using a plan editor in Rational Team Concert. The plan editor assists you with stack ranking your backlog items by using drag and drop or specific keyboard actions.

Managing a Release Backlog

In large projects, it is useful to manage a release backlog in addition to a sprint backlog. As a product backlog, a release backlog is managed using a plan editor. In addition to a product backlog, the plan editor provides an iteration view onto the release to see at a glance which stories are planned for which iteration. Again, drag and drop can be used to easily assign the stories from a backlog to specific iterations, and the integrated progress bar helps to not overload an iteration considering the team’s velocity and to track overall progress.





Managing projects with Quick Planner

Quick Planner can help you to simplify your project planning and speed your workflow. Use the views to track your work and the team’s work; to quickly create work items and assign attributes by using easy access icons and keyboard shortcuts; and to locate work items through searches and filters.

To open Quick Planner, from the menu, click Plans > Quick Planner.

Browsing between views

Quick Planner includes views that you can use to track your work or the work of the entire project. You can choose a team area and all the views are scoped to the selected team.

Use these views to choose your team area and timeline:

  • My Team Area: When you choose a team area, all views are scoped to that team.
  • My Timeline: If a team area is not selected, you can choose a timeline. If a team area is selected, the timeline that is associated with the team is used. In Rational® Team Concert™, you can configure a backlog for each timeline. The Backlog view is scoped to that timeline in the project.

Note: If a timeline does not have a backlog iteration, the Backlog view is hidden.

Use these views to track your work:

  • My Work: Shows work items that are assigned to you in the project. This view provides the fastest way to create work items for yourself.
  • My Recent Work: Shows the work items that you recently updated in the current project area, on the My Stuff page, and on the Quick Planner page. This view also shows the items that you recently viewed in the web client work item editor.

Use these views to track the entire project:

  • Incoming Work: Use this view to evaluate new work items. Work items are grouped by severity, so you can identify tasks that are most important. You can send incoming work items to your backlog to be scheduled for an iteration by clicking the Triage to Backlog () icon.
  • Backlog: Shows all work items in the backlog. You can rank work items in this view.
  • Iteration Planning: Shows work items that are assigned to the iteration. Drag planned work items from the backlog lane, create work items, drag work items to build a tree, or rank work items.
  • Team’s Work: Shows the team’s work for the entire project. Work items are grouped by owner, so you always know which tasks your team members own. Use the iteration list () icon on the Quick Planner toolbar to select specific iterations. Your selection hides items from other iterations so that you can focus on the work in this iteration.
  • All Work: Shows all open, in progress, and resolved work items, including unassigned and unplanned.
    Backlog: Shows all work items in the backlog. You can rank work items in this view.
  • Iteration Planning: Shows work items that are assigned to the iteration. Drag planned work items from the backlog lane, create work items, drag work items to build a tree, or rank work items.
  • Team’s Work: Shows the team’s work for the entire project. Work items are grouped by owner, so you always know which tasks your team members own. Use the iteration list () icon on the Quick Planner toolbar to select specific iterations. Your selection hides items from other iterations so that you can focus on the work in this iteration.
  • All Work: Shows all open, in progress, and resolved work items, including unassigned and unplanned. This view includes items from the Team’s Work, Incoming Work, and Backlog views.



Creating work items

You can quickly create work items for yourself in each view. When you create a work item, you can set many of its attributes by using the attribute icons under the Create a work item field.



When you click in the field, a window opens under it that displays attribute icons:

    • Type () icon
    • Description () icon
    • File Against () icon
    • Owned By () icon
    • Priority () icon
    • Severity () icon (defects only)
    • Tags () icon
    • Found In () icon (defects only)
    • Due Date () icon
    • Subscribed By () icon
    • Parent () icon

When you set an attribute, the keyboard shortcut for the attribute is displayed after the summary. Notice how some of the icons change after you set the attribute values.


After you create the work item, you can add new or existing child work items from the Child Task Breakdown view. To display this view, click the Open child task breakdown ) icon that is included in the list of quick access actions for the work item.


Finding and editing work items

You can find work items by searching, filtering, or displaying them in views. You can save custom views and share the views with project areas, team areas, and users.

Filter for work items.

Enter text in the Filter work items by keyword field to display only the work items that you want to see in a list. When you click in the field, a window opens that displays the available operators, short form filters, attribute filters, and link filters that you can use to refine your search. Click a filter to populate the field.


The following filtering features are supported:

  • Search by work item number. Example: 1234
  • Search by a keyword or phrase. Example: keyword or “exact phrase
  • Search on specific attributes. Example: Severity=Major and Priority=Medium,High
  • Search by using nested Boolean operators. Example: (Severity=Major or Priority=High) and not Tags=later
  • Search on attributes with spaces. Example: “Owned By” = “Bill”


Saving, sharing, and editing custom views

If you use a filter often, you might want to save it as a custom view. You can share custom views with project areas, team areas, and users. Additionally, you can edit custom views to change the view properties.



Click SAVE. The custom view is displayed in the left pane in the Custom Views section.




The Custom View Properties dialog box opens. You can change the name of the view, the iteration that the view filters on, and the sharing properties. You can also add and remove view tags. To save your changes, click SAVE.

  • To share the view with the current project area, select the project area.
  • If a team area is selected on the Quick Planner page in the Team Area menu in the upper left pane, the team area is displayed on the menu. To share the view with the team area, select it.
  • To remove all sharing for the view, click Unshare.


Running reports in Quick Planner

You can run reports from the Team’s Work and Iteration Planning pages.

To open the reports from Quick Planner, use one of these methods:

  • From the Team’s Work page, click Team Progress, and then click History Reports to open the sections.
  • From the Iteration Planning page, click Velocity Report to open the section.
  • View the burndown and burnup reports for the iteration by the hours that were worked, the item count, or the story points.
  • By Hours: The burndown report plots the time that is remaining against the planned work; the burnup report plots the completed work against the planned work.
  • By Item Count: The burndown report displays the open work item count against the total work item count; the burnup report displays the closed work item count against the total work item count.
  • By Story Points: The burndown report displays the remaining points against the total points; the burnup report displays the closed points against the total points.

Example

Example of the burndown and burnup reports from the Team’s Work page:



Example of the Velocity report from the Iteration Planning page:





(1) Mike Cohn, Agile Estimating and Planning
(2) Monte Carlo Method, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Carlo_method

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