August 31st, 2022 by inflectra
As we head into the end of Q3, we are excited to be releasing some major new features and enhancements for both our Spira and Rapise platforms. In a series of upcoming blog articles, we will be highlighting some exciting new marquee features that you can expect to see in upcoming releases. To get the ball rolling, in this article, we will be showing a preview of the new agile (Scrum and Kanban) boards that will be unveiled in an upcoming release of SpiraTeam and SpiraPlan. This major refresh of the agile planning boards was made possible from feedback from some of our most loyal and devoted customers, thanks so much for your help.
The current agile boards in SpiraTeam and SpiraPlan were originally released in Spira 4.2, and at the time were a huge improvement over the ones that were in earlier versions. They allow you to see the product backlog, release backlog and sprint backlog in an easy to navigate interface. The primary requirements-oriented planning board was supplemented with dedicated task and incident boards in Spira 5.4.
However, there are some limitations in the current boards that we have been looking to address for some time. The current boards will display in a 'horizontal' mode for some views (see above) such as the 'By Component' view, and 'vertical' mode for some other views such as 'By Status' (see below):
In addition, the boards do not let you have both rows and columns visible at the same time. We have also had requests to be able to manage groups of users in 'teams' vs. having just a large single list of project members. Finally, customers have been looking for more flexibility to display different fields and metrics in the story cards themselves.
Well, the good news is that we've been working on a completely revamped agile board that addresses these limitations and adds major new enhancements in terms of both functionality and usability. The new boards will be initially released as an 'opt-in' beta feature in the coming months, before becoming the standard interface. Note: the screenshots in this article are based on the current 'alpha' version and are subject to change, based on your feedback.
Firstly, we have redesigned the board display to operate in a consistent manner, regardless of whether you are looking at the product backlog, release backlog or sprint backlog. You will now always have the option to:
You will still have the ability to display three views (product backlog, release backlog, and sprint backlog) and for the latter two, filter by release or sprint as appropriate. However regardless of that, the board will have the same visual appearance.
Firstly you will be able to see the list of groups that you have selected in the 'group-by', or just a single 'all items' group, if you have not chosen to group by a specific field:
You can then expand each of the groups to display an X-Y board that contains columns and optionally rows:
When you expand a row in the group, it will show you any requirements (and/or incidents) that belong in that group, row and column segment:
This means that when you change from:
The overall user interface and display is the same, with the board maintaining the same overall layout and set of operations:
This will provide a much simpler to understand and explain interface, yet gives you more power and flexibility than the current set of different 'vertical' and 'horizontal' views.
One of the key enhancements in the new planning board is the ability to specify different fields for the columns and rows on the board, instead of being limited to just a single field per display option (in the current board). For example, in the screenshot below, we are displaying the list of requirement Story cards by parent requirement (Epic, Feature, etc.), with the columns showing the different statuses. As with the current boards, you can display Kanban Work In Progress (WIP) limits on the statuses to see if you have exceeded any of the specified WIP limits per status.
In this second example, in the screenshot below, we are displaying the list of requirement Story cards by Component, with the columns showing the different priorities (which have color-coding):
The initial beta version will only support certain standard fields for grouping or use in the column/row selections, but eventually we plan on supporting custom properties as well.
Earlier this year we introduced the ability to create a global list of product teams. This functionality has been dormant inside SpiraTeam and SpiraPlan, waiting for the time when it will be used in the application. With the new agile boards, that moment has come. The new teams functionality will let you create a global list of different teams:
Once you have defined those teams you will be able to assign different users to these teams on a given project. For example, Fred Bloggs may be in the Dev team on Project 1 and on the QA team on Project 2. This lets us group people in similar teams for the purposes of tracking work and viewing story cards on the boards.
With these teams defined and people assigned to the teams, you can now use the new grouping option on the agile boards to display the story cards by team. Underneath each time will the list of people that are in that team. This makes the resource viewing and assignment much easier than with the current boards. In addition, you can easily hide any observer users that are not part of any team:
In the example above, we are displaying the Release Backlog, grouped by team, with the people in each team on the Y-Axis and the requirement status on the X-Axis.
Another frequently asked for enhancement, is the ability to customize which fields are displayed on the story cards. In the previous version of the board, you had basically a detailed view / simplified view, plus the ability to show tasks and test cases as "mini cards". We have kept the incident/tasks card option, but instead of the detailed view / simplified view choice, we now let you pick more fields in a granular fashion:
This lets you have more flexibility as to what is displayed, as well as allowing the following fields to be displayed for the first time:
The following card shows the description, status, and task progress (the default view):
This card shows all the available fields (we have added type, test coverage, and the list of tasks and test cases):
This is an example of a more minimal view, showing just the name, status,type, task progress and test coverage:
In the future we plan on allowing you show even more fields such as custom properties and other standard fields.
Unlike some other products on the market, Spira has different specialized artifact types (requirement, test cases, task, incident, etc.) so it is more difficult to show an integrated board for requirements and incidents when the fields may not be the same. In the current board, if you choose to display the cards by priority, the system will exclude any incidents from the board.
In the new version, as long as the incidents and requirements have priorities that use the same nomenclature, the board will include both incidents and requirements in the priority views:
In the future, we hope to do the same thing for the two remaining views that do not support incidents (by status and by parent requirement).
In addition to these enhancements, we're planning on making these additional improvements to the beta version:
Beyond the initial beta release, we anticipate the following future enhancements (depending on feedback from customers):
The initial plan is to release the new board as an alternative "opt-in" public beta for customers when they use the main "Planning > Planning Board" from the product artifact navigation. Once we get feedback from customers, the second phase will be to update the following additional boards with the new functionality:
And if you have any questions, please email or call us at +1 (202) 558-6885
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