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Here’s how you ace agile planning in Jira Software

Boguslaw Osuch - 7 August 2018 - 0 comments

Building a piece of functional software that brings value to its users is a long-term project. Most of the time, it involves various teams that need to coordinate their work with one another and stakeholders who keep a close eye on the progress of this project. Moreover, there are also market trends that are constantly evolving, and the inevitable mistakes and errors that creep into every process.

Without developing a solid plan, you’ll be risking that your team never meets deadlines or delivers a product that doesn’t match the quality you’re looking for.

The agile methodology is a buzzword today and many teams favor it because it allows responding to changes quickly. But what about planning? Is it possible to use the agile method to create long-term and bigger-picture plans that still guarantee continuous delivery? Can teams produce a realistic forecast knowing that some elements will change?

My answer is yes to all these questions. Read on to see how to ace agile planning with the help of Atlassian’s Jira software.

1. Identify the big tasks and break them down

So you’re planning to develop an application? You need to consider things like its foundation, different functionalities, design, third-party support, and other elements that constitute the larger chunks in your project development.

Next, break them down into smaller pieces. These smaller fragments will offer you a more granular view into the steps required to complete a given initiative like developing a UX design for your app.

Consider these little pieces as your epics that will land in your backlog in Jira. You can display them on a Kanban board for clarity. By breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks, you’ll also have an easier time estimating the costs and time required to complete each task and provide a more accurate prognosis for your team.

2. Now it’s time for estimation

Estimation is the first step towards developing your project roadmap. The project roadmap is a plan of action for how your product will evolve over time. You need a project roadmap to understand when significant breakthroughs or important things happen – and in what order.

And you can prepare a roadmap only once your work is broken down into smaller chunks. Time and money all go together and knowing how much time a given task will take will also help you to estimate its potential cost.

So how do you make your first step toward estimating? You need knowledge of the past efforts for similar tasks. It’s smart to keep all important project information in a single place to be able to refer back to it during estimation. If you have all the knowledge at hand, you can be sure that retrieving it is much simpler and your estimates are more accurate. After all, what if you forget how much time it took you to complete app design?

So begin by estimating how much time each task will take to have a better idea of how much time you’ll be allocating in different areas of your app development. You don’t need to be really accurate here –later on, you’ll need to take this final roadmap to your team, and they’ll be the ones to scope it out with more accuracy.

3. Consider your future releases

The idea behind agile is delivering a working piece of software at the end of each sprint. While some teams consider it a release, others call it version. However, at this point, you’re still long-term planning and nowhere near to getting your team through the first sprints.

But since you’re at the stage of roadmapping, this is the best moment to define release points on your roadmap. They will enable you to estimate release dates during the next couple of months. By defining your releases, you’ll also ensure that by the time your software reaches this release, all the elements you want it to contain will be there.

So how do you plan releases? Take a good look at your backlog and check your work items carefully. Do you see any tasks with similar features? Group them together because developing them at the same time will be easier for your team. You can also assume the perspective of the customer and consider which issues will provide value to your end-users when put together. Don’t forget that releases will be driven by the scope of your project rather than strict deadlines.

4. Share with the team and validate

Once your product roadmap is ready, it’s time to share it with your team in order to validate it. It’s very easy to do that in Jira. Now that you figured out your epics, your team can break them down into stories that will be part of your Jira project and estimate them to show you how long each work will take.

They might also point you to external factors that lead to better validation of your assumptions and make your final estimates more accurate. You’ll also have a better idea about the steps required to complete your epics. Key stakeholders in the project should also see the roadmap – especially if you need their approval to confirm specific steps before moving forward.

Have you got any questions about planning with Jira software? Reach out to me at e-mail; I help organizations in planning for optimal performance with the help of Atlassian tools.

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