10X: Run a Forecast

The Forecast page provides what-if analysis and scenario planning activities based on the estimated capacity for a PI and the epics, capabilities, or stand-alone features assigned to it. To get here, go to Program > Manage > Forecast.

Forecasting is an early, rough estimation for higher-level work items, generally done well before PI Planning. It may not be as accurate as the PI estimates created closer to planning activities, where work items are further broken down into features and stories to better understand scope. The intent of forecasting is to understand if staffing levels match future needs, seen through either team/member week capacities, or the average velocity of points delivered by programs and teams. 

Forecast estimates are entered on this page and/or the Forecast tab of an epic or capability’s Details panel. PI Estimates, the more refined values estimated closer to planning events, are entered directly on an epic or capability, from the main tab of Details panels.

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Forecasting is available from two perspectives:

  • The Agile by Program view lets you forecast the estimated weeks or points needed to deliver epics and capabilities, from a program perspective.
  • The Agile by Team lets you forecast the estimated weeks or points needed to deliver epics and capabilities, from the perspective of teams within each program.

If you plan on forecasting at both the program and team levels, we recommend performing a forecast at the program level first. This is because program capacities inform the capacity total available to spread across the teams, and team-level forecast estimates are more difficult to remove from capacity fields when viewing the page at the program level. 

Note:

  • The Forecast page will display capacity fields and values 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 Administration > Platform > Portfolio > Display Week Estimates In will control whether team or member weeks are displayed.
    • When using the Points estimation system, capacity is displayed in points. 

Running a forecast for a PI consists of the following steps:

Configure your view options

First, decide what work items, columns, and filters you want to use on the page:

View by work item

If capabilities are turned on for your instance, you can choose to run the forecast against capabilities or epics. To filter the forecast view, select Epics or Capabilities from the View by dropdown menu in the upper-left corner. 

  • View by Epics: The page displays epics assigned to the portfolio/programs and PI(s) selected in the Configuration bar. No child capabilities are shown in the report. 
  • View by Capabilities: The report shows only capabilities assigned and contributing to certain PIs. 

ForecastViewby.png

To display stand-alone features on the page, select the Apply Filters menu in the upper-right corner, and then switch on the Show Stand-Alone Features toggle. Note: This option will only function with the View by Epics view.

Apply Filters

To run a forecast for a select set of work within a program and PI, select the Apply Filters menu from the upper-right corner of the page.

ForecastApplyFilters.png

Enter values in the Process Steps, Theme, Team, and Epic fields to filter the displayed epics, capabilities, and stand-alone features by specific criteria.

Switch on the Show Stand-Alone Features toggle to display features that do not have a parent, when using the View by Epics view of the page. This setting is ignored when forecasting by capabilities. 

Switch on the Hide Empty Rows and Columns toggle to collapse program/team columns and epic/capability 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):

  • Progress
  • Theme
  • Owner
  • Effort
  • Capacity
  • In-Scope

You can display or hide additional individual columns (listed in order of display, left-to-right):

  • Parent
  • Long-Term Goal
  • Value
  • Scoring
  • WSJF
  • MMF
  • Process Flow 
  • Business Driver
  • Chat

ForecastChooseColumns.png

Note: You can add the Parent column only when the capabilities are turned on on the global level. This column shows the parent epic for the capabilities if they are displayed in the report. Other columns that display work item fields on this page are collected from Epics.

Set capacities

Before entering forecast estimation values for each work item displayed on the page, you must establish how much capacity exists in the PI. 

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.

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When using Points estimation systems, your capacity will be set for you, based on past performance:

  • For the Agile by Program view, 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.
  • For the Agile by Team view, 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. 

Rank items

Epics, capabilities, and stand-alone features on the page are ordered based on their ranking in the backlog. If you add a new working item to the backlog, it appears at the bottom of the forecast list for the corresponding PI. Here, you can manually move the working items to rank them in the priority that you need. Also, you can right-click an item to move it to top, bottom, or a certain position. Changing the rank of the item in one PI does not affect the rank of this item in other PIs. You cannot rank capabilities if features are displayed.

You can pull ranking from the backlog into the Forecast 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 in the Configuration bar displays as a collapsible section. When expanded, epics, capabilities, and/or stand-alone 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.

ForecastShowColumnSections.png

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 an epic or capability’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:

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When using the Agile by Program view, forecast estimates apply to the entire program. If you enter a program-level forecast estimate, and then switch to the Agile by Team view and enter a forecast 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:

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Columns in Agile by Team view

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Column in Agile by Program view

If you want to forecast for both programs and teams, we recommend running a forecast at the program level first. If you enter a team-level value first, you cannot enter a program-level value until the team-level entry is cleared.

Allocated Capacity

The Allocated Capacity field found in each work item row displays the sum of entries made in each Program/Team Capacity column. Click the value to open a forecast settings panel specific to the item and PI, where you can compare and edit forecast values entered from both the Agile by Team and Agile by Program views. This is useful for comparing forecasts entered for related programs that were not selected in the Configuration bar, and for removing team-level forecasts to allow entry of a program-level forecast. 

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Click the Additional Forecast Details link at the bottom of the panel to expand other details about the work item, including teams working on stories parented by the work item, related PIs, dependent teams, and more.

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PI Estimates

The PI Estimate field displays the estimate entered on the main tab of the work item’s Details panel. This is considered a more specific or tuned estimate, done after forecasting and before PI Planning. 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 estimation system, and the forecast page is using member weeks, 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 forecast estimate total displayed in Allocated Capacity to the PI estimate by clicking the blue arrow between the fields. This will overwrite any previous PI estimate values entered on the work item.

What-if planning

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.

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