Planning Features into Releases: Effort Calculation | Targetprocess - Visual management software

Planning Features into Releases: Effort Calculation

Building high-level plans or roadmaps helps teams to understand how much effort they need to complete the work item and when they can complete it. It also helps to identify earlier that the team is off schedule and probably needs to change their strategy. Let's have a look how high level planning is possible with Targetprocess and look into the Feature effort calculation.

It is now possible to plan Features into Releases by comparing effort needed to complete the Feature and Release Capacity.

The Feature entity has the following properties (fields on Feature entity view):

Features properties
Initial Estimate is effort roughly estimated for the Feature before splitting it into User Stories. This field was introduced to give the ability to estimate work at a high level and create longer-term roadmaps.

Effort is  the value showing the amount of work which is required to complete the Feature.

While planning Features into Releases we calculate the sum of “Effort To Do” field of Features, assigned to a Release.

Possible capacity badges and explanations

On the picture below all the possible variants of capacity badges are shown. Please, click on any badge to read the explanation.

total assigned effortTotal Done Effort
100 % done% of done work
Available total CapacityCollaborative Features
Total Overload

Total Effort To Do

total assigned effort
This badge shows the sum of all EffortToDo in a cell. It can be displayed in a Backlog cell or in a Release cell if Capacity is not set for the Release.
Note: only Features remaining effort is calculated, not the total effort.
Effort to do

Total Effort Done

Total Done Effort
This badge shows the sum of all Completed Effort in a Release cell. This historical information can be used for planning future Releases taking the sum of Completed Effort in previous time-boxes as a baseline. It is not calculated for Backlog cells, only for Release cells in the past.

100% Completed

100 % done
This badge illustrates that in current Release all assigned work is completed. It means that all the work items either in final state or their total remaining effort is equal to zero.

Percentage Completed

% of done work
This badge shows how much work is completed in current or past Release. It is calculated as follows:
progress calculation

Capacity Available

Available total Capacity
This badge is useful for planning, it indicates if there is available capacity in a Release. The load is calculated as follows:
Capacity load
Where Effort To Do is the sum all Features and User Stories EffortsToDo. And Release Capacity is the value set into the custom field "Capacity" in Release entity. In order to set Release capacity, you need to have "Capacity" custom field for Release. The value can be set either manually or automatically as the sum of Team Iterations capacities assigned to Release.

Collaborative Features

Collaborative Features
This badge shows that your Release load is calculated roughly, since there are some Features assigned to more than 1 team (collaborative Features) and we do not know, how to allocate the Initial estimate of the Feature until child User Stories are created. Therefore, in order to make the calculation of Release load more accurate it is better to add child User Stories to Feature, assign them to appropriate Teams and give them estimates.
Collaborative features example
You can click on the badge and then "focus on collaborative features" link to leave only features that are assigned to more than 1 team.

Total Overload

Total Overload

This badge is useful for planning, it indicates that the Release capacity is overloaded. The overload is calculated as follows:
Overload
Where Effort To Do is the sum all Features and User Stories EffortsToDo. And Release Capacity is the value set into the custom field "Capacity" in Release entity. In order to set Release capacity, you need to have "Capacity" custom field for Release. The value can be set either manually or automatically as the sum of Team Iterations capacities assigned to Release.

Let’s go through 2 cases that may occur and look at how we calculate the Release load.

Feature Effort Calculation, Use Cases

A Feature is not decomposed into child User Stories vs a Feature that has been decomposed into User Stories.

At the moment when a Feature is not decomposed into User Story its Effort To Do = Initial Estimate. Therefore Initial Estimate influences the Release load. But when the Feature has at least 1 child User Story Initial Estimate no longer influence the load, we use Total Effort instead. Please see the three screenshots below for examples.

  • Empty Release
  • Feature isn't decomposed
  • Feature is decomposed
Empty Release
Feature isn't decomposed
Feature is decomposed

A Feature has child User Stories, which are assigned to other Releases

Note, that User Stories' efforts influence the Releases load. So if the User Stories of the same Feature are assigned to different Releases, their Efforts influence each Release respectively and Feature effort is not taken into account.

  • Empty Releases
  • All USs in 1 Release
  • USs are in different Releases
Empty Releases
All USs in 1 Release
USs are in different Releases

Planning Feature and its User Stories

Please note, that child User Stories need to be assigned together with Feature. Only in this case the work items will influence the Release load.

  • All work in Backlog
  • Feature is planned
  • Feature & US are planned
All work in Backlog
Feature is planned
Feature & US are planned

Most Typical Issues with the Feature Effort Calculation:

  • Problem: I assigned a Feature to Release, but its Effort is not reflected in the Release's load bar.
    Possible reason 1: Please check that all its child User Stories are assigned to the same Release. Note that the Feature itself doesn’t influence the Release's load so long as it has child User Stories. The Effort of a Feature is added to a Release only if there are no nested User Stories and is equal to Feature’s Initial Estimate.
    Feature effort calculationPossible reason 2: If all the User Stories are assigned to the same Release, but some of them are in final state. When you look at a Feature card on a board you can see different effort widgets that are set by the board admin. Please, note that you should look at the “Effort To Do” widget, not the “Total Effort”.
    Feature effort calculation
  • Problem: I see no cards on the board, but my Release load is not 0.
    not all cards are shownPossible reason: the Release load bar always shows the total Effort To Do. So if the cards that are assigned to a Release are not visible due to board context or filters, you may not see them. To see all work that affects the calculation open the Release's entity details view (click on the column header) and go through tabs “User Stories”, “Bugs”, “Features”.
    Open Team Iteration entity view
  • Problem: I set some filters, but the loader shows the load for all the cards outside the filter.
    Possible reason: This is expected behavior, we always show the total since it is important not to accidentally overload the available capacity. But if you want to see the total of cards that are now visible on board just click on  the Release load bar and look at the details.
    Effort calculation

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