Spotlight on Spira 6.6 - Agile Planning Enhancements, Plan by Points

August 13th, 2020 by inflectra

One of the focus areas in the new release v6.6 of SpiraTeam and SpiraPlan is to improve the support for different agile project management methodologies and approaches. In this article we'll discuss some of the exciting new features that have been added to Spira to better support the popular Scrum agile methodology, in including the ability to choose to plan by points vs. hours.


Planning by Points vs. Hours

We are always looking for ways to streamline and simplify our tools to make them easier to use on different projects with different methodologies. Based on our research, we realized that there are two distinct modes that customers wanted to use the planning features in Spira, so we have added a new configuration option in the Administration > Planning Options page - Plan using Points (vs. Planning using Hours):

Previously Spira worked using the Plan using Hours approach with the ability to estimate requirements in points, with the points converted into hours to enable inclusion of requirements, tasks, incidents and test cases effort into a single calculation. Many customers value this approach allowing them to accurately measure all of the different work streams in a single place. However for other customers, this was overkill and all they wanted was the ability to plan using story points and see if they were above or below this number in each sprint and release.

We shall illustrate how the system works in each of the two modes.

Plan using Hours

With this setting disabled (default), you estimate a requirement using points but it is also shown in hours using a velocity conversion factor (discussed below):

You specify the time available in a release/sprint in hours:

The planning board shows the number of hours planned, utilized and remaining:

When requirements are added to the Planning Board or Iteration planning screen, they will have an initial effort (in hours) that is used until tasks are added (see Auto-Create Tasks option). This field contains the standard conversion factor used to convert points into hours based on the current team velocity (how much time it takes on average to accomplish one story point). As the product progresses, the team velocity will change, so you can click on the [Suggest] button to have the system calculate how many hours each existing story point has taken to implement in the product and provide that as a recommendation:

Plan using Points

With this new setting enabled, you only estimate a requirement using points. The hours are not displayed on the detail page for requirements:

You also use points for planning releases/sprints:

The planning board shows the number of points planned, utilized and remaining:

Other Planning Board Enhancements

Improve Expand/Collapse Behavior

In many of the planning board views, you have a set of "containers" on the left-hand-side, such as Component, Epic, or Priority, with the cards displayed horizontally in each grouping container:

The new version adds a new Expand All and Collapse All button in the top of the board that lets you quickly expand or collapse all the containers in a single-click. Previously, you had to expand or collapse each one manually, which could be very time consuming if you had a large number of components or epics.

Group by Component or Epic for Releases & Sprints

Previously, the ability to group the cards on the planning boards by component or by epic was only possible in the product backlog view. Now with v6.6 we have added those same group-by options to all the views, including the release planning and sprint planning views:

So if you are displaying the board for "All Releases", a specific Release or a specific Spring, you will always have the two group by options (By Epic and By Component) available:

This makes it much easier to see the progress of each epic in a single view.

Requirement Completion Progress Bar for Each Release

As we explained in the article on Spira v6.5, we have a new requirements % completion metric associated with each release/sprint in Spira:

So in v6.6 we changed the Releases and Sprints header in the main planning board and the requirements board to show this new % Req Complete indicator rather than the previous task progress indicator.


If you still want to see the Task Progress indicator, it is used on the separate Task Board that can be accessed from the Tracking > Tasks page.

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