There are two parts to good planning -- clear definition of what's to be developed and an understanding of available resources. If you get either of these wrong, both PM and Engineering suffer. To make matters worse, the rest of the organization loses confidence that key launch dates or deliverables will be met.
Before you finalize release dates, turn on capacity planning to estimate the effort it will take to develop features and/or requirements at a high level. Some call this "T-shirt sizing," or "ballpark" estimates. The goal is to work with the engineering lead to estimate the high-level effort needed. This enables you to predict release dates with more accuracy (or make trade-offs early on).
This is not meant to take the place of line-level capacity planning done by development.
Capacity planning can be used with any methodology, including agile and traditional or somewhere in between.
Note: Turning on capacity planning also enables a start, end and due-date to be visible in all features. You can visually manage feature due-dates and dependencies on the Releases Roadmap screen.
Turn on capacity planning
You must be a Product Owner in Aha! to enable capacity planning. Capacity planning is enabled for each product in Settings -> Product -> Planning and check the box for "Enable capacity planning and time tracking" (if you don't see the menu option, you are not a Product Owner or are in your product line)
- Check Enable capacity planning and time tracking.
- Set the default units in Time or Story points (use what developers use).
- Associate estimates with features or requirements. If you associate estimates with requirements but create features without requirements, the capacity planning will be found at the feature level. You can change each feature's default under the Actions menu.
- Select your remaining estimate preference. By selecting "Add as logged time", the remaining estimate for a feature or requirement is automatically logged as work done upon shipping. By selecting "Ignore remaining time", the work log will ignore the remaining time estimate. This provides more control to ensure that logged time accurately reflects work that was done.
Note: Enabling capacity planning in Aha! sets a default value of 0 for features or requirements (depending on whether you associate estimates with features or requirements). If you have already sent features to a third-party integration (e.g. JIRA or Pivotal Tracker) prior to enabling capacity planning, your features or requirements will automatically update the linked stories with this default value of 0.
Estimate capacity by release
Once the capacity planning feature is turned on, planning bars appear at the top of releases throughout the application. The bars can display total capacity, work completed, work remaining, and whether you are over capacity. Start by clicking on the "N/A" under the capacity bar to set total available capacity. If you don't know the total capacity, you may estimate and change it later.
You can use the following key for setting your estimates:
- use h, d, w, m to represent time (e.g. "2d 1h")
- e.g. 8h = 1d, 5d = 1w, 22d = 1m
- use p to measure points
- e.g. 0.5p, 1p, 2p, 3p
Estimate effort by feature and requirements (user stories)
Once you turn capacity planning on, you will also be able to set estimated effort for features and releases in the Features details of Aha! Work with engineering to estimate what each feature and requirement will cost in terms of effort.
The planning bar at the top of the screen will automatically update to reflect the total estimated capacity vs. the total required effort to complete each release. If there is not enough capacity to meet the estimated effort, a section of the bar will turn red to highlight this discrepancy. On the Feature board, a red Capacity limit line enables you to drag the most important features above and decide whether to move the rest out or extend the release date.
Not sure which features are most important? Use Scorecards to prioritize with objective metrics aligned with your strategy.
Log time worked
Capacity planning also includes the ability for your team to track time spent working on features and requirements. If this is widely used, you will have a clear view of the progress being made during a release or sprint, as well as the work that has yet to be completed. You still get all of the benefits of capacity planning without using this. However, by using it, you can track (and report upon) the actual time being spent if this is important to you and the team.
- To log time, click "Log time" on the feature or requirements detail (depending on how you've set your default estimate association), and enter the "Work done."
- If you ship a feature, it will automatically log the time for you. Therefore, if the estimated value is no longer accurate, you should update it before changing the status.
- If you accidentally log the wrong time and need to delete it, this can be accomplished by clicking on Actions -> Time Tracking history in the feature drawer page and clicking on the trash icon.
Note: If you are using JIRA and have configured the integration, logged work is automatically updated by JIRA. If you have configured estimate association at the requirements level, logging time is also at that level.
To view a list of all features with their original estimates and work completed, you can use the list view.
Use Aha! to make sure that product management and engineering deliver what's desired with focus and velocity.
Doing some lightweight capacity planning in a collaborative environment will ensure that your engineering team works efficiently to build what matters -- and that PM has realistic goals.