10X: Manage the Backlog

The backlog is a place to stack, rank, and assign your work items across teams, sprints, and program increments. You can get into the backlog in two ways: Team > Backlog or Program > Backlog. Once the page loads, you need to select a program increment and a program.

Note: To view stories (and defects), make sure you do not select a portfolio from the Configuration bar. Also, filter the stories by team. Then, you can see your unassigned backlog and all your sprints.

Inline, you quickly add an item: an epic, a capability, a feature, or a story. Capabilities only appear in the backlog if they are turned on in Administration.

Backlog views

There are two main view buttons you can use to manage your work items at the top-right of the page: List View and Kanban Views, which are made up of three sub-views. The ordering of work items is preserved when switching between views.

List View

When the List button is selected, items are displayed one below the other. You may display additional work item fields as columns through the Columns Shown menu at the top of the page.

Kanban Views

The Kanban button displays three options when clicked: State ViewProcess Flow View, and Column View. Kanban views display work items as cards, with states, steps and PIs represented as columns.

  • State View is used for moving cards between states. There are multiple states displayed, depending on the work item.
    • Features and stories use:
      • Pending Approval
      • Ready to Start
      • In Progress
      • Dev Complete
      • Test Complete
      • Accepted
      • Only users with the product owner, analyst, or super admin role can move stories to the Accepted column.
      • Only stories that are in the Test Complete column can be moved to the Accepted column. With this option, you can accept stories directly in the backlog. Stories cannot be moved from the Accepted column. You can unaccept a story from its Details panel.
    • Epics and capabilities use:
      • Not Started
      • In Progress
      • Accepted
      • Although they are displayed, you cannot move epic and capability cards into the Dev Complete or Test Complete columns. This view combines epics and stand-alone features, so possible states for features are displayed.
  • Process Flow View is used for moving cards between developmental steps within a process flow (formerly known as a value stream). If an item does not have any developmental process step assigned, it appears in the Unassigned column. There are the following options on each card:
    • Time in Process Step. Shows the number of days an item spent in a specific process step.
    • Time in Process Flow. Shows the number of days an item spent (or currently is) in the process flow. The count of days begins after a feature moves from the Unassigned column to any step.

The Process Flow View also contains an option to show exit criteria. They are used to define an epic intake process with exit criteria to drive governance through the project, to create a policy for when to complete specific fields in the work item (epic), or if your team has specific requirements that it needs to meet before moving a card to another place. Criteria appear in the corresponding columns and are added when editing process steps.

  • Column View is used for moving cards between different program increments. It is also a useful tool for Product Managers to load the program increments to a prescribed capacity; it ensures you aren’t overburdening the team. Select more than one PI in your Configuration bar to display multiple PI columns. Note: For the story backlog, this view is named Sprint View and displays selected sprints as columns.

    When you select this view from the epic, capability, or feature backlog, buttons for Estimated and Actual modes display. Use these buttons to compare the estimated vs actual loads of each program and program increment:
    • In Estimated mode, two load indicator bars display to help one or more programs gauge how much work is estimated in the PI, compared to the average amount of story points accepted in the previous two PIs (known as PI Velocity):
      • At the top of each PI column is the Estimated PI Load bar.

        EstimatedPILoadEpicBacklog.png
        The percentage complete displayed in the bar is calculated as:

        ((Sum of estimate points from the epics, capabilities, or features planned for the selected PI) / (sum of PI Velocities from selected programs)) * 100 = Estimated PI Load

        Note: For epics and capabilities, PI estimate values are taken from the Estimate for (PI name) fields found on the main tab of a work item's Details panel. Non-point values are converted into story points using the Estimation Conversions settings menu.
      • At the top of each program row is the Estimated Program PI Load bar.

        EstimatedProgramPILoadEpicBacklog.png

        The percentage complete displayed in the bar is calculated as:

        ((Sum of estimate points from the epics, capabilities, or features assigned to the selected program and planned for the selected PI) / (program's PI Velocity)) * 100 = Estimated Program PI Load

        Note: For epics and capabilities, program PI estimate values are taken from the Total for (Program Name) fields found on the Forecast tab of a work item's Details panel. Those fields are measured in team weeks, so they are converted into story points using the Estimation Conversions settings menu.

    • In Actual mode, two load indicator bars display to help one or more programs gauge how many story points are planned for the PI, compared to the average amount of story points accepted in the previous two PIs (known as PI Velocity):
      • At the top of each PI column is the Actual PI Load bar.

        ActualPILoadEpicBacklog.png
        The percentage complete displayed in the bar is calculated as:

        ((Sum of level-of-effort (LOE) points from stories parented by epics, capabilities, or features planned for the selected PI) / (sum of PI Velocities from selected programs)) * 100 = Actual PI Load

        Note: Orphan stories (those that do not roll-up to a parent item, but are planned in the selected program or PI) are included in this calculation. 
      • At the top of each program row is the Actual Program PI Load bar.

        ActualProgramPILoadEpicBacklog3.png
        The percentage complete displayed in the bar is calculated as:

        ((Sum of level-of-effort (LOE) points from stories parented by epics, capabilities, or features assigned to the selected program and planned for the selected PI) / (program's PI Velocity)) * 100 = Actual Program PI Load

        Note: Orphan stories (those that do not roll-up to a parent item, but are planned in the selected program or PI) are included in this calculation.

Backlog for features

In the State and Process Step views, you can drill into the team Kanban view. Within the program, this view shows each team as a row and states or process steps as columns. Features are established for a team by how stories are assigned. If one or more stories under a feature are assigned to a team, the feature shows up on that team’s row, meaning the features can show up multiple times across multiple teams. However, you cannot move features between teams. If more than one team is working on the same feature and this feature is moved between states, it will move for all those teams. Duplicate features associated with more than one team are not included in the column count.

The View Features By Team option works for each program bucket individually. This means that if you have more than one program selected on the Configuration bar, you have to turn on this option for each program separately. While you are working in the Features by Team View, you cannot access the Unassigned Backlog.

Backlog for stories

Unlike epics and features, stories do not have the Kanban Column View but have the Sprint View. In the Sprint View, as you move stories across the columns, your average velocity bar changes. You can override the average velocity for a particular sprint to plan better when moving the stories. To override the average velocity, click Override, select the Override Average Velocity for Sprint Planning option, type the necessary value for velocity, and then click Save. The average velocity is counted on the basis of last five sprints. The average velocity does not use the override velocity value. The override velocity value is used only for planning purposes.

Ranking items

When you create a new item in the backlog, it is placed in the alphabetical order under the already ranked items. New work items have a generic ranking. After they are moved to a position manually, they will be ranked in the backlog.

You can rank your items in the backlog in order of their priority. To rank the items, you need to drag the rows within the grid. 

Age of items

You can track the age of working items to keep the backlog clean and know how long it takes to get items from an idea to the product. The age is calculated from the date when the item is first saved to the system. To view the age, add the Age column to the grid.

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