Spotlight on Spira 7.3 - Agile Boards and Teams/Tracks

December 6th, 2022 by inflectra

We are excited to be releasing the public beta version of the long-awaited agile planning board revamp for SpiraTeam and SpiraPlan in early December. In preparation for that, we wanted to provide a preview of the new user interface and design. Since our original blog post highlighting the new features, the UI has undergone some major revisions and updates, so in this article we're including screenshots of the current release candidate.

How To Access The Planning Board Beta

Firstly, once the new version is released next month, you will need to enable the beta for your users in the Administration > System > General Settings:

Enable Beta Features

Once it has been enabled at the system level, your users can then access the main Planning Board using the Spira navigation as normal:

Planning Board Navigation

Then click on the Try the Beta button the top-right to enable the new beta boards:

Try the Beta Boards

Once you click that, Spira will display the new planning boards, and use them for remainder of your session (unless you click on the Exit the Beta button to return back to the old boards).

The new boards

 

Introducing the New Planning Board

The new agile planning board in Spira has been redesigned to have a more consistent user interface across its different views, support multiple boards in a product, provide more customization options, and also allow you have to have both horizontal and vertical swim lanes in a single view. Previously we only allowed rows or columns, but not both.

Key Elements

The overall planning board page has these parts to it:

  1. Top toolbar: this is where you configure the board itself (and all of the features below)
  2. The view: product backlog, release backlog, and sprint backlog. Select the view to get all relevant artifacts
  3. Grouping: divide up the list of items into a major grouping. Each grouping is its own independent board on the page and is selected from a few options (e.g. release, team, component)
  4. Columns: within each board / group, you must choose a field to show across the columns (e.g. status)
  5. Rows: within each board / group create rows (swim-lanes) can be used to divide up the data (e.g. person, parent requirement)
  6. Cells: A cell is the intersection of a row and column to give a single reference point
  7. Cards: with rows and columns we get cells (like on a spreadsheet). All items that match the settings of a cell (e.g. have that team and status) are shown in individual cards. You can pick what information to show on cards

New beta agile boards with different parts highlighted

We will now explain the different parts of the board in more detail.

Different Views

As mentioned above, the new planning board has three distinct views that you can switch between:

  • The Product backlog lets managers prioritize ("groom") unplanned work items that do not have a scheduled release.
    • This view displays all the unplanned items so that the project manager or product owner can prioritize work prior to assigning to a specific release or sprint. This is often called ‘backlog grooming’ but is essentially prioritizing and categorizing the unplanned work
  • The Release backlog lets managers review planned or in progress work items
    • This view displays all the planned items (based on status) so that the project manager can:
      • assign work to a release
      • move work between releases; or
      • move planned items around ignoring releases
  • The Sprint backlog lets managers review work in a release and its sprint, or for a single sprint
    • This view displays all the planned items in a release and its sprints so that the project manager can:
      • assign work between sprints in a release; or
      • focus on a single sprint (if desired)

The view selector

The Release Selector

This selector is only available for the release backlog and sprint backlog views. It is hidden if you choose product backlog.

It has three basic selection options:

  1. All Releases - displays artifacts that are planned for any release
  2. Release X - displays artifacts that are planned for the selected release and its child sprints
  3. Sprint X - displays artifacts that are planned for just the selected sprint

For example, when you are displaying the release backlog, you will see the following:

Release section

and when you are displaying the sprint backlog, you will see the following:

Release/sprint selector

Grouping

The new boards have the option to have have multiple, separate boards displayed. This is used when you want to display a board for each release, sprint, team, component or priority:

Group by dropdown

For example, when you are displaying the Release Backlog, you may want to group by release:

Release backlog, grouped by release

Inside each group, you will have a board with individual rows and columns. There are icons that let you expand/ collapse the group itself, as well as the option to expand/collapse all groups:

Expand/collapse all groups

Rows

Inside each of the boards you can choose to organize the cards by row. This is optional, and depending on the view (product backlog, release backlog, sprint backlog), the options will vary. For example, in the screenshot below we are displaying the product backlog organized by parent Epic.

Board rows showing parent requirements/epics

Since we are also grouping by Component, the board is smart enough to know that it should only show you the Epics in each Component as rows. If you expand the other Components, only the Epics on those Components will be displayed.

Similar to the grouping functionality, you can collapse/expand a single row or use the special expand/collapse all icon:

Expand/collapse all rows

Columns

Inside each of the boards you can choose to organize the cards by column. Unlike groups and rows, this is required, and is the minimum level of categorization needed. For example, here's the product backlog organized by priority:

Product backlog with priority as columns

The options available in the Columns drop-down menu will depend on the current view. For example, here's the list of column options in the Release Backlog view:

Column options

When you use the groups, columns and rows together, you get a much more sophisticated board. For example, here's the Release Backlog, grouped by Team, with the columns set to Priority and the Rows set to Person:

Board showing group, column and rows in action.

When you expand any of the rows, you will see the appropriate requirement user story cards:

Expanded board showing the cards

Common Use Case

Scrum Projects

For Scrum projects, the new boards support the most important agile ceremonies and planning activities. For example, you can show all the unplanned items in the product backlog for backlog grooming:

Product backlog by component, epic and priority

In this example we are displaying the User Stories by Epic, grouped by Component and categorized by Priority.

For a typical release planning section, you can use the following release backlog view:

Release backlog showing all releases by release

In this example we are displaying all the releases, with the ability to take items from the product backlog (at the top) and assign to a specific release.

For a sprint planning session, the following view will let you assign work to each sprint from the release backlog:

Sprint planning view

The system will display the available effort vs. committed effort to make sure you have not over-committed the sprint. As with the previous version of the boards, you can use either story points or hours, depending on the setting chosen in the Spira planning options.

The effort indicators

Finally, you can drill down to look at an individual sprint and see the team's progress. This is useful for daily standup meetings:

Expanded board showing the cards

Kanban Projects

For Kanban projects, in addition to the functionality described above, you have the ability to see the different releases by status, with the Work In Progress Limits clearly visible in each of the swim-lanes:

Kanban view by status with WIP limits

In this example, we are showing the release backlog for a specific release, with the columns set to display by status and the planning options set to include WIP limits for the In-Progress and Developed columns.

Other Features

Teams & Tracks (SpiraPlan Only)

In addition to the board changes themselves, the new agile boards also make use of another new beta feature - teams and tracks. For SpiraPlan customers, the boards allow you to choose a Team as one of the options in the Grouping selector:

Person by Teams view

These teams come from the administration menu, where you can create a global list of teams, and then assign users to those teams on a per-project basis:

Teams admin menu

Changes to the Card Display

Finally, you may have noticed, that the requirement user story cards on the boards look different. We have taken the opportunity to restyle them a little. The changes also mean that you can now customize what information is actually shown in each card to a much larger degree than before. Previously you could switch on/off:

  • Detailed Mode
    • displayed the description
    • showed the task progress
    • showed the position
  • Show Tasks
  • Show Test Cases

With the new cards, you can configure each of these individually, as well as show new items such as the test coverage, status, and type that were previously not possible:

Card customization

For example, the most minimal set of information (with everything set to No) would look like:

Minimal story card

In the old boards, this would have looked something like:

Old story card - minimal view

If you enable all of the individual options, the maximum display will look like:

Story card, maximal view

If you compare with the old version:

Old story card - maximal view

We have made some stylistic changes:

  • The position number is displayed on the bottom left, vs. the entire background.
  • The priority is now shown as a colored circle, vs. the left-hand border
  • The test cases are now shown as small circles next to the test coverage, along with the test case count
  • The tasks are now shown as small circles next to the task progress, along with the task count

Since the test cases and tasks are now shown as colored circles, instead of mini-cards, you would use the tooltip to see the ID of the actual task or test case:

Card with tooltip for task

How Do I Provide Feedback

Once you have started using the new boards in beta mode, you will of course have feedback, suggestions and questions! That is great, please send them along to our product team by means of this customized support ticket mail link.

We hope you like the changes and improvements we have made with the new agile planning boards in Spira. Once we have collected the feedback, we plan on implementing the key changes and then releasing the boards as production boards to replace the current ones.

agile scrum kanban boards teams

Spira Helps You Deliver Better Software, Faster.

Get Started with Spira for Free

And if you have any questions, please email or call us at +1 (202) 558-6885

Free Trial