Why do you need to track the progress of Epics?
Epics or Features can provide incredibly valuable sources of information when it comes to tracking and reporting. Whilst many users rely on Plandek to highlight their general delivery processes, Plandek can also provide you with a multitude of metrics to help you track and spot risks in the delivery of Epics/Features.
We have spent some time thinking about the most common challenges teams face when delivering Epics (some obvious and some not so obvious). Below we’ve provided some examples of insights you can get today from Plandek to help you navigate these challenges.
How do I set up metrics to look at Epics?
It’s as simple as this: select Epic Name from the filters in the metric settings and choose the epic you want to report on (if you don’t see this as an option, simply ask an Admin to add it). Or if you are interested in seeing data across a range of epics then select Epic Name in the breakdown setting.
It’s worth noting that not only will Plandek show you all the direct children of Epics (i.e. Stories, Bugs and Tasks), but when we process your tickets, your subtasks will also inherit the Epic Name attribute, so they too will be available when you filter by Epic Name.
Underpinning Delivery Time of Epic XXX
See how long it takes for all of the stories, tasks, and bugs to be delivered under your epic. It is important to track the time it takes to deliver changes to a) ensure the epic is on track, b) to spot if the trend starts increasing over time, and c) spot any outliers which might lead to some important lessons learnt.
Choose your epic and breakdown the data by issue type to see a scatter graph of the associated tickets.
Story Point Burndown vs Stories not yet estimated
Track the stories under your epic and compare the overall burndown with the stories yet to be estimated, painting a picture of progress. By overlaying the unestimated stories onto your burndown, it will highlight where there could be a risk of unestimated work building up and progress therefore is not what it might seem to be.
Don’t worry if you do not use story points as this metric can be changed to look at the burndown using tickets resolved vs remaining. If you use time estimates, you would draw a similar picture as story points, just set the calculation setting to the appropriate time field (e.g. time estimate).
Ticket Flow for Epic XXX
See the cumulative flow of your tickets either at a daily or a weekly level, giving you visibility of progress and will also highlight any bottlenecks that may appear.
Look across all statuses, or you can choose to filter out statuses such as Done or Complete to give you a clearer view of the various “in-flight” statuses.
Mean Time to Merge PRs
Review how long it takes on average to review, approve and merge all Pull Requests associated with the epic. This compliments the delivery time metric well and can help spot any causes for concern (e.g. PRs sitting in a review state for a long period) which will cause the overall cycle time to increase.
Filter by merged state so you can focus on only the PRs that have been merged. You can also use the Created Pull Requests metric and apply a filter on “open” PRs to ensure the team is responsive real-time.
Changes to code and code knowledge
Whilst this might not be something that is front of mind when thinking about tracking progress, Plandek’s engineering metrics can help you determine what areas of the code base are being changed as part of the epic. Plandek can also highlight if there is a single point of failure when it comes to knowledge of the changes.
As a Team Lead, you’ll not only be able to spot if there are only one or two engineers working on the changes; you can ensure that the knowledge of the changes are shared across the whole engineering team. You’ll also have valuable information to pass onto a QA team or a Support function.
The list of available metrics is endless and we know that Programme Managers, Delivery Managers, Engineering Leads will have different ideas on what is important to them. With Plandek those opportunities are available to be explored!
We have however, created two epic templates, one focussed on using story points to drive the metrics and the other focused on the tickets themselves. Why not log into Plandek, select Manage Dashboards, Plandek Templates, select an Epic Tracker template and choose an epic you’d like to track.