ProjectTRACKER Help - Project Management Best Practices / Curriculum

Software Project Management Techniques

ProjectTRACKER supports standard project planning and time / effort documentation techniques successfully used since more then 20 years of SW development. ProjectTRACKER also supports the Agile Scrum development methodology consisting of user stories and story point estimation techniques, and with this allows to close the gaps between Agile and Plan-driven concepts1). ProjectTRACKER in addition incorporates heuristic project scheduling and statistical estimation functions2) supporting Lean Six Sigma methodologies adapted to the Software development domain.

A strong differentiator is that ProjectTRACKER does not force a special method or planning rigor, but allows to use different methods based on the program, project or business need3).

The following table shows Software Project Management methods and planning rigor supported by the ProjectTRACKER:

Method Agile / Plan / Both Planning
Effort / Rigor
ProjectTRACKER Support
Task / User Story Standardization / Templates Both Low Tasks
Scrum
Task Templates
Group Name Notations
Task planning / structuring Plan Low Tasks
Group Name Notations
Task time recording Both Low Efforts
Plan control / prediction Plan Low Tasks
Schedule
Reports
Scope / Feature Creep, Task / User Story Trending Both Low Task History / Trending
Burn Down, Burn Up Charts
Team collaboration Both Low Efforts
Reports
Wiki Update / Export
Remaining task effort recording / calculation (TR_REMEFF_MANDATORY4) not set) Both Low Efforts
Epic / User Story / Story Point planning / structuring Agile Low Scrum
Group Name Notations
User Story Done tracking Agile Low Scrum
Burn Up Charts
Best Case, Most Likely, Worst Case Effort Estimation5) Plan Medium Estimates
Resource planning Plan Medium Plan
Activity recording Plan High Efforts
Program Activities
Default Activities
Remaining task effort recording (TR_REMEFF_MANDATORY6) set) Both High Efforts
Detailed Task planning Both High Tasks
Scrum
Task Description Free Text Input

Task Import / Other Tools

There are very good “classical” Project Management, Time Accounting and Collaboration Tools available ProjectTRACKER is not competing against, but supports e.g. the initial planning via OpenProj and allows then importing the results to ProjectTRACKER. The following import / exchange formats are supported:

Supported Tool Types Exchange format ProjectTRACKER Support Exchange Direction
Spreadsheet CSV Reports ProjectTRACKER → Tool
Spreadsheet CSV Import CSV Tool → ProjectTRACKER
Spreadsheet CSV excel3.jpg MS Excel7) Grid Export ProjectTRACKER → Tool
Microsoft Project8) MS Project 2003 XML export format Import MS Project Tool → ProjectTRACKER
OpenProj9) MS Project 2003 XML export format Import OpenProj Tool → ProjectTRACKER

Task History / Trending

The ProjectTRACKER supports a full change history on all effort and date changes to tasks with a daily granularity via retaining a so called Task History. Clicking on the task trend symbols opens the Task History page, e.g.:

The example above shows that the admin user has changed the Story Point effort on 18th Jan. Old value was 8 SPs. In the line above you see the new value 10 SPs (ProjectTRACKER stores always the old, non-zero value before the field is changed to the new value - this would be visible also in the current SP value in the User Story). On 27th of Jan the User Story was set to “Done” by the admin user.

With the Task History, changes in the Task or User Story effort baseline can be simply detected and analysed via the ProjectTRACKER Burn Down, Burn Up Charts, like this one:

In the example above Story Points have increased around mid of January (details could be derived by the Task History above) with the effect that most probably the target date is not feasible anymore as the average velocity is not hitting the red, dotted Planned Effort line at the Plan Date.

The trend symbols are shown in the grid displays of the Tasks, Scrum, Estimates and Schedule pages. The trend symbol gives a quick indication of the effort trend:

Effort has decreased after the last update.
Effort has not changed.
Effort has increased after the last update.

Notes:

  • The Task History / Trending must be activated via the TR_TASK_TRENDING10) flag!
  • The behaviour of changes to the Task or User Story effort baseline are defined via the TR_TASK_PLAN_VALIDITY11) flag!

Detailed Planning via Task Description Free Text Input

To allow a very detailed, free text task definition in combination with the effort rationales, the ProjectTRACKER extracts / parses effort estimations from the Task description text. It is recommended to describe the detailed efforts in a tabular form e.g. via the FCK Editor table function:

Task A
Description Bla Bla Bla
Risks Bla Bla Bla
Constraints Bla Bla Bla
Task Steps to do Description Responsible Planned Effort Min. Effort Max. Effort Risks/Issues identified Effort Deviations
Task A Step 1 Bla Bla Bla Mr. X 10 PD 8- PD 12+ PD Risk UVW +10! PH
Task A Step 2 Bla Bla Bla Mr. Y 33 PH 22- PH 44+ PH Risk XYZ
Task A Step 3 Bla Bla Bla Mr. X 11.5 PD 10- PD 15.5+ PD Risk ABC -2.5! PD
Task A Step 4 Bla Bla Bla Mr. X 0:30 PH 0:10- PH 0:40+ PH Risk 987 +0:30! PH

Efforts are collected from all numbers in the format 123 PD (in Person Days, with 8 hours a day) or 123 PH (in Person Hours). Hours can be also entered in the format 12:34. A '-' after the number indicates a Best Case Effort, a '+' indicates a Worst Case Effort and a '!' indicates a Effort Deviation.

Note: Be aware that small typos in the task descriptions (e.g. 8 -PD) will make the extracted efforts incorrect - so better double check!

Default Activities via Task Description

To reduce the efforts for the ProjectTRACKER user to record Program Activities, matching activities could be set by default in the Task description text, e.g. 100% verification via the text ##150 Verification Testing%%100##. This is very usefull when the Tasks strucuture reflects already activities, e.g. Scrum “tasking out”s are typically a good match to activity sctructures (see also the examples in Task Templates).

Task Templates

Task Templates are tasks with the Top Level Group letter 'T'12). They can be inserted at any position via the Task Copy Option. Template tasks can be freely defined by everyone who can create and edit new tasks. The ProjectTRACKER example (see ProjectTRACKER Quick Demo Setup) contains e.g. the following templates:

Example Template Tasks

IDGrpTaskDescription
881T01#Task Template
Task Title
Description
Risks / Issues
Constraints
Default Activities e.g. ##123 XYZ%%100##
Sub-Tasks Description Subtask Responsible Planned Effort Min. Effort Max. Effort Effort Deviation Subtask Status Comments
e.g. OPEN, WIP, DONE

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

896T02##User Story Template
User Story Name
User Story Definition As <type of user> I want <what> so that <why>
Risks / Issues e.g. Risks / Issues discussed in Grooming session
User Story Type e.g. Epic, Spike, Verification, Validation, Defect, <functional area>
Pre-conditions e.g. Conditions necessary to start working on the user story
Predecessors e.g. User Stories needed before staring user story
Successors e.g. User Stories needed after implementing the user story

Notes:

  • User Story Grooming Status, Completion Status, Story point effort, Owner see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields
  • User Stories should be checked for I: Independent, N: Negotiable, V: Valuable, E: Estimable, S: Small, T:Testable
915T03##Sprint Task Template
Description e.g. Document SW Design requirements
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities e.g. ##123 XYZ%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

908T04##..User Story + Task Out Template
User Story Name
User Story Definition As <type of user> I want <what> so that <why>
Risks / Issues e.g. Risks / Issues discussed in Grooming session
User Story Type e.g. Epic, Spike, Verification, Validation, Defect, <functional area>
Pre-conditions e.g. Conditions necessary to start working on the user story
Predecessors e.g. User Stories needed before staring user story
Successors e.g. User Stories needed after implementing the user story

Notes:

  • User Story Grooming Status, Completion Status, Story point effort, Owner see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields
  • User Stories should be checked for I: Independent, N: Negotiable, V: Valuable, E: Estimable, S: Small, T:Testable
909T04##1User Requirements
Description e.g. Document user / customer requirements
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##110 User Requirements%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

910T04##2SW Requirements
Description e.g. Document SW requirements
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##120 System / Software Requirements%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

911T04##3Risk Assessment
Description e.g. Perform draft risk assessment
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##210 Formalization%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

912T04##4Technical Design Reviews
Description e.g. Perform draft technical design review
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##130 Design%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

914T04##5SW Design
Description e.g. Document SW Design requirements
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##130 Design%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

916T04##6Implement Code
Description e.g. Implement code
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##140 Implementation%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

917T04##7Unit Testing
Description e.g. Unit test + code review + static code analysis + check-in
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##150 Verification Testing%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

918T04##8Verification Testing
Description e.g.: Verification scope, test cases cover SW and Detailed Design Requirements and test cases successfully executed
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##150 Verification Testing%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

922T04##9Validation Testing
Description e.g.: Validation scope, test cases cover User / Customer Requirements and test cases successfully executed
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##160 Validation Testing%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

920T04##AManuals / Instructions
Description e.g.: Update manual / install / readme / troubleshooting instructions
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##190 Manuals / Localization%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

919T04##BCustomer feedback
Description e.g.: Customer feedback scheduled, customer feedback done
Risks / Issues e.g. Issues / Risks identified during the task out / planning sessions
Default Activities ##230 Rollout Support%%100##

Note: Task Efforts, Owner, Status see relevant ProjectTRACKER Task fields

Task Templates Inheritance

When inserting task template via the Task Copy Option the parameters “program ID”, “task owner” and “task active” are inherited from the checked “copy” task. The parameters “task group”, “task prio”, “task name”, “task effort planned”, “task effort best case”, “task effort worst case”, “task story points”, “task status 1”, “task status 2”, “task time box” and “task description” are copied from the template task. This allows quick assignments of task owners to the inserted template tasks and also allows the use of generic estimation templates with efforts already included as a guideline for the estimation process, e.g.:

  • T01 Small Size User Story ~ 1SP
    • T011 Task 1
  • T02 Medium Small Size User Story ~ 2SP
    • T021 Task 1
  • T03 Medium Size User Story ~ 5SP
    • T031 Task 1

References

  • 13)Software Estimation - Demystifying the Black Art, Steve McConnell, Microsoft Press 2006
  • 14)Balancing Agility and Discipline - A Guide for the Perplexed, Barry Boehm, Richard Turner, Addison Wesley 2012
1) , 3) , 14) Ref Balancing Agility and Discipline
2) , 5) , 13) Ref Software Estimation
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7) , 8) , 9) All third party trademarks are the property of their respective owners
 
tracker/pm.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/03 11:30 (external edit)
 
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