TEONITE is an agile development team and each one of us is specialized in different field of information technology. We’re mainly a service company, so it’s natural we take on many projects simultaneously. One of the most important and most difficult things to do is to keep track of multiple projects at the same time. And that is my job.

Sprint 101

To ensure stable, accurate and fast development we divide projects into sprints. A sprint is a set period of time during which a number of processes occur. Each sprint starts with a meeting with a product owner to plan what parts from full product requirements should be done during that particular sprint. Then, we work according to the schedule. At the end of each sprint, we sum up all work that was done. In case of any failures, we analyze the cause to not repeat mistakes. Any tasks that, for any reason, weren’t completed (lack of assets, lack of upfront design) will be discussed over with the product owner at the beginning of next sprint.

In theory, shorter sprints work better. They trigger more meetings with product owner, thus we better understand requirements and product owner has full insight into project. Short sprints also save time (and money) in case product owner changes his mind about a particular feature.

By far, sprints are the most productive type of workflow management in projects that aren’t fully designed but are rather an idea or concept that takes shape during development. In that case, we mostly do weekly sprints – they are short enough that they don’t change midway and are long enough to push the project forward and have any meaningful feedback.

Monitoring and management with multi-level agile board

Our weapon of choice to monitor and schedule all project/team data is YouTrack. It has a particular feature especially useful for any agile team - multi-level agile boards. It offers three levels of hierarchy (swimlanes, tasks and their sub-tasks). Our usual setting of swimlanes includes:

Agile Board Example

  • Epic for all general ideas that yet have to be divided into features
  • Feature for tasks that are defined and have to be implemented,
  • Bug for bug reports and fixes,
  • Tasks for general tasks and subtask that are neither feature implementations nor bugs.

We also have one extra swimlane, Change Request (CR) in which product owner can add tasks or comments with any changes he has in mind.

Change Request swimlane is particularly helpful in case of project budget review. Let’s imagine a project which has requirements for 15 features, so the budget was calculated accordingly to the initial requirements. After 10 weeks we have 5 implemented features out of 15 planned, plus 10 features that came during the development process due to product owner’s change requests. All in all, we have implemented 15 features and we’re already closing the budget. To avoid such situation, all our clients and partners engaged in given project can monitor the state of development through shared YouTrack’s multi-level agile boards.

Tweaking never stops

So we use YouTrack and multi-level agile boards. Are we satisfied? Sure. Do we stop seeking new ways to improve our workflow? Certainly not. We never stop tweaking. There are always elements that can be adjusted and optimized for each single project. For us, YouTrack is the best tool for this kind of job (at least for now). Everyone knows what has to be done and by who. All issues and bugs are instantly reported. And all this on a single page.

In the next part of this article we will take a closer look at other levels of YouTrack’s multi-level agile boards. Follow us on Twitter to know about more interesting articles about project management in IT.