The forecast page lets you enter team, program, and program increment estimates for work items, which you can compare against the capacity available within a program increment.
To navigate to the forecast page:
If you’re using the new navigation:
- Select Portfolios, Programs or Solutions in the top navigation bar and select the entity containing the program increment you want to run a forecast for.
- On the sidebar, select Reports in the list of options.
- Select Forecast.
If you’re using the old navigation:
- Select Program from the left Nav menu.
- Under the Manage section, select Forecast.
Forecasting is a planning activity that allows you to record the estimated effort needed from a program or team that will work on an epic, capability, or feature. The intent of forecasting is to understand if work item estimates match capacity in terms of team/member weeks or points.
Forecasting work consists of the following steps:
- Configure your grid
- Set available capacities
- Rank items
- Enter and review forecast estimates
Estimates can also be entered on the Forecast tab of an epic, capability, or feature’s Details panel. The Forecast tab also provides you with a way to sum estimates from programs and teams to form the program increment (PI) estimate, which represents the total estimated effort needed for a work item during a specified PI.
Learn more about using the Forecast tab:
- The forecast page will display capacity and estimate fields in either team weeks, member weeks, or points, depending on the estimation method selected for your portfolio.
- When using the T-Shirt sizing or Team/Member Weeks estimation systems, weeks are used. The choice made in for the Display Week Estimates In portfolio setting will control whether team or member weeks are displayed.
- When using the Points estimation system, capacity available in the PI and estimate values are displayed in points.
Configure your grid
First, decide what team level, work items, columns, and filters you want to use on the page:
Select team level and work item level
The two filters in the upper-left corner of the forecast page control what level of teams and work items you can enter and view forecast estimates for.
Use the Team level dropdown to select what team level of team hierarchy to enter forecasts for: programs or teams
Use the Work item level dropdown to select what work item to enter estimates for: epics, capabilities (if enabled), or features.
To display a specific set of work within a program and PI, select the Apply Filters menu from the upper-right corner of the page.
Enter values in the Process Steps, Theme, Team, and Epic fields to filter the displayed epics, capabilities, and features by specific criteria.
When viewing epics on the page, switch on the Show Stand-Alone Features toggle to display features that do not have a parent. This toggle is only available when the Hide stand-alone features in backlog program setting is set to No. When viewing features on the page, this toggle will not be available in the Apply Filters menu; both child and stand-alone features will be displayed.
Switch on the Hide Empty Rows and Columns toggle to collapse program or team columns and work item rows that are blank.
Select the Filter Forecast button to save your selections, or use the Reset Filters button to clear all entries.
Configure your columns
To select the columns you would like to view on the page, access the Configure Columns at the upper-right. Click the Restore Defaults button to display the default set of columns (listed in order of display, left-to-right):
You can display or hide additional individual columns (listed in order of display, left-to-right):
- Epic (for capabilities and features)
- Capability (for features)
- North Star
- WSJF Prioritization
- Forecasted Spend
- Process Step
Before entering estimates for each work item displayed on the page, you must establish how much capacity exists in the PI. You will use different methods, depending on the selection made in the Estimation System portfolio setting. If your portfolio does not use global settings, you will need to select the Portfolio Specific Configuration button to see your estimation system.
T-Shirt and Team/Member Weeks estimation systems
When using T-Shirt or Team/Member Weeks estimation systems, set this up by following the instructions for using the Plan Capacity settings panel. There, you can account for holidays, offsites, and other activities that may reduce capacity using buffers. You can also create specialties that must be considered for tracking specific capacity needs.
Points estimation system
When using Points estimation systems, your capacity will be set for you, based on past performance:
- When viewing programs on the page, average program velocity is set as the capacity for each program. Average program velocity is the average number of effort points delivered in accepted stories during the last two completed PIs.
- When viewing teams on the page, average velocity multiplied by the number of sprints in the PI is set as the capacity for each team. Average velocity is the average number of effort points delivered in accepted stories during the past five completed sprints.
You may override the capacity set for a program or team by selecting the Manage Velocity button at the top of each PI section. This is useful, for example, if you know a program will add additional teams in a future PI, and you want to increase the expected points capacity to account for more staff.
Epics, capabilities, and features on the page are ordered based on their ranking in the backlog. If you add a new work item to the backlog, it appears at the bottom of the forecast list for the corresponding PI. Here, you can manually move the work items to rank them in the priority that you need. You can also right-click an item to move it to the top, bottom, or a certain position. Changing the rank of the item in one PI does not affect its rank in other PIs.
You can pull ranking from the backlog into the Forecast page in order to reset the priorities and be sure that your Forecast is aligned with the plan. Click Apply Backlog Rank, and then apply a global rank, program rank, or portfolio rank set in the backlog. Once the program rank is applied, the item list is ordered in the same way as in the backlog. Once the portfolio rank is applied, epics are ranked in the same way as in the epic backlog for the PI. Use the backlog rank to ensure that priorities are aligned between your forecast and backlog.
Enter and review forecast estimates
Once you have configured your view and set capacities, you’re ready to enter forecast estimates for each work item displayed on the page.
Each PI selected displays as a collapsible section. When expanded, epics, capabilities, or features associated with the PI and programs display as individual rows. Two sets of columns display, each with a horizontal scrollbar: Columns selected in the Configure Columns menu are on the left, while a column for each program or team’s capacity displays on the right.
For each work item, enter a forecast estimate in the field under the [Program/Team Name] Capacity column. This value states how many member/team weeks or points you roughly estimate it will take to deliver the work item (or portions of a multi-PI work item) during the PI.
When you enter a value, the Capacity Remaining: column header will update to show how much capacity remains to forecast other work items. Entries made are also copied to the matching program or team estimate fields found within the Forecast tab of a work item’s Details panel. If the sum of values exceeds the capacity planned for the program or team, the field and header will display in red text:
When viewing programs on the page, estimates apply to the entire program. If you enter a program estimate, then change the page's Team level dropdown to Team and enter an estimate, you will see two sets of numbers, separated by a slash. When two numbers are present, they are not cumulative. For example, if you see 20 / 15 listed in a capacity field, that indicates that 20 weeks have been forecasted at the program level, and of those, 15 are specifically forecasted for teams within that program:
Columns when viewing teams
Column when viewing programs
If you enter a team estimate on the forecast page first, you cannot enter a program estimate from the page until the work item’s team estimate is cleared. If you encounter this scenario, select the work item’s name to open its Details panel, and select the Forecast tab. From there, you can enter estimates for any program or team associated with the work item, and use Sum or Sum all buttons in the tab to reconcile mismatched totals.
Enable the Forecasted Spend column to see the rough estimated cost of delivering a work item, based on the entered forecast estimates. This value will be most accurate when forecasts have been entered for each program and PI combination that the work item is associated with.
Select a Forecasted Spend value to open the Forecasted Spend panel for that work item, where you can see more details about how the value is calculated.
The PI Estimate field displays the program increment (PI) estimate entered on either the Details tab or Forecast tab of the work item’s Details panel. This field represents the total estimated effort needed from programs and teams working on the work item during the PI. If your estimation system for this value is different from the system displayed in capacity fields, it is converted using the Estimation Conversions settings menu. For example, if you use a T-Shirt sizing estimation system, and the forecast page is using the Member Weeks estimation system, the value displayed in the PI Estimate field on the page is in member weeks. When you open the work item’s Details panel, the PI Estimate field will display as a t-shirt size.
You can copy the estimate total displayed in Allocated Capacity to the work item's PI Estimate by selecting the blue arrow between the fields. This will overwrite any previous PI Estimate values entered on the work item.
You can use the In-Scope checkbox to exclude a work item from capacity calculations for what-if planning. Removing the check from the box will remove any entered forecast estimates from the remaining capacity values for each program or team.