Plan capacity by estimating effort

There are two parts to good planning — clear definition of what is 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, enable capacity planning in Aha! 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 allows you to predict release dates with more accuracy.

Enabling capacity planning in Aha! is not meant to take the place of line-level capacity planning done by development. 

Note: Turning on capacity planning also enables a start, end, and due-date that will be visible in all features. You can visually manage feature due-dates and dependencies on the Releases > Overview page. 

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 by checking the box for Enable capacity planning and time tracking. (If you do not see the menu option, you are not a product owner or you are in a product line instead of a product).

  1. Check Enable capacity planning and time tracking.

  2. Set the default units in Time or Story points (use what your development team uses).

  3. Associate estimates with features or requirements. If you associate estimates with requirements but create features without requirements, capacity planning will be found at the feature level.

  4. 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 the logged time accurately reflects work that was done.

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Note: If you have an existing 1.0 integration set up syncing Aha! features to your development tool and enable capacity planning afterward, you run the risk or syncing estimates of 0. This happens because the integration automatically starts syncing as soon as it is turned on. To prevent this from happening, follow these steps:

  1. Update the time tracking fields in your integration set up to a one-way sync (from whichever system has the accurate estimates)

  2. Check and adjust estimates and ensure everything is correct

  3. Return your integration set up to a two-way sync

If you set up a 2.0 integration and then enable capacity planning afterward, you will need to go back and update your integration to map the estimate fields by using the Update records option to re-sync the data from your development tool. Find specific instructions for your development tool in the integrations 2.0 articles.

Estimate capacity by release

Once the capacity planning feature is enabled, planning bars appear at the top of releases on the Features > Board page. The bars can display total capacity, work completed, work remaining, and whether you are over capacity. Click Capacity under the capacity bar to set total available capacity. If you do not know the total capacity, you can 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

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Estimate effort by feature and requirements (user stories)

You can also set estimated effort for features and requirements from the Features details page. Work with engineering to estimate what each feature will cost in terms of effort.

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The planning bar at the top of your 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 features board, a red Capacity limit line enables you to drag the most important features above and decide whether to move the rest of the features to another release or to extend the release date. 

If you are unsure which features are the most important, use Scorecards to prioritize them with objective metrics that are aligned to 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 on) 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 have set your default estimate association), and update 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 More options > Time tracking history from the feature drawer view and clicking on the trash icon. 

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To view a list of all features with their original estimates and work completed, use the list view by going to Features > List.

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Doing some lightweight capacity planning in a collaborative environment will ensure that your engineering team works efficiently to build what matters — and that the product management team has realistic goals.

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