This is a three part blog series highlighting a few lesser known but can’t-live-without features in GreenHopper, Atlassian’s agile planning tool for JIRA. Each part explores events in your projects, with Part One focusing on the initial planning session. Stay tuned for the others: work in progress, then tracking the project and sharing status with others.

GreenHopper has an abundance of features that help organize and plan projects. Some features are harder to find than others, however. Let’s uncover some of those out-of-the-way features you can use when planning your projects.

Viewing the Backlog

Pull up the GreenHopper Planning Board for a project to quickly see what issues are at the top of the backlog. From there you can drag-and-drop issues to change the relative Rank by moving them up or down the list, and the Quick Filters at the top change your view: things like ‘show only my issues’.

The ‘pending’ filter takes advantage of another GreenHopper feature: nested versions. Versions are the phases or milestones within your JIRA project, and GreenHopper lets you create sub-versions, such as the parent and child versions below.

pending.png

Use ‘pending’ to hide issues already scheduled for a
child version (such as 3.0 Sprint 2) and show you only issues that are
‘what’s left’ for the master release (3.0).

  • Master version = 3.0
  • Child = 3.0 Sprint 2

Another great, under-used function of the Planning Board is that you can view the value of any statistic – this lets you gauge which issues will take the most work.

What are statistics?

Statistics are a way estimate work without estimating time, because people aren’t always great at estimating minutes or hours. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Time: Task 1 might take 4 hours and Task 2 might take 8
  • Dollar amounts
  • Fibonacci numbers (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc)
  • T-shirt sizes or other arbitrary values to determine relative complexity

The benefit of using a number is that you can aggregate the numbers together to a larger value during planning. For example, if your team has the capacity to do 20 points of work for a version, when you are sitting in a planning session you know to allocate 20 points worth of work into the next project phase.

How do I decide what to schedule next for my project?

Markers are great way to visually break up project backlog. You can display a Marker – a gray bar – just above the first issue that will exceed those 20 points. High priority items are already at the top of the list, which is sorted by Rank. Everything above or below the line can be dragged up or down to see what fits in the team’s capacity, before making a commitment to those particular issues in the next version.

marker bar.png


Scenario

Bob has a long vacation coming up soon, or your intern is here for the summer. During a planning session, you can adjust the amount of work on the fly using that knowledge. Once you’re satisfied with the issues above the marker, simply drag them all into the project’s next version and off you go!

Before I leave you: enable ‘time aggregation’ in the GreenHopper project configuration so all sub-task time will roll up into the parent issue. Use this in conjunction with the ‘hide subtasks’ quick filter, so your time estimates are still accurate when viewing parent issues only. This will reduce screen clutter.

Now that planning session is finished – get to work! Start progress on new tasks, and we’ll talk soon about how to track and report on what’s happening with your project work.

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