Boards and milestones

In HacknPlan, a Board represents a group of work items that are meant to be accomplished within a period of time, and one of its main purposes is scaling the scope down to a manageable size and setting partial goals to better measure the progress of the project. A board can be of any size and date range, although we strongly recommend using them as iterations and creating short-timeboxed boards. Making them short allows you to evaluate the progress more frequently, hence issues can be detected and fixed earlier. You can also create boards without any dates assigned, acting as a place to put work items that are outside of the regular development lifecycle.

In a typical agile workflow, work items would be added to the backlog where they are enriched, sorted by priority and, once they are ready, they would be added to a Board so the team can work on them. Once it’s time for the iteration of the board to be started, the team will work on the items inside and, eventually (and hopefully on time and with every work item completed), the board would be marked as closed and archived.

Creating a board

To create a new board, click on the New button on the left menu, or press B on your keyboard. You can also create it from the Administration → Boards & milestones section. This will open up a dialog to enter some basic information:

  • Name: The name of the board which will be used to reference it in different parts of the application. If you are using some sort of agile iteration method, this could be something like ‘Sprint 1’, or maybe a more classic version number like ‘v0.3.2’.
  • Description: This is a short description that is displayed on board lists, and its purpose is to help localize them better. For more detailed information about the board, use the general info field.
  • Milestone: Boards can be grouped by Milestones, which represent a bigger goal in your roadmap. You can select an existing one or create a new one directly. Milestones will be explained below.
  • Start date: This date determines when the board should be started. This value is very important, as it will affect how metrics are calculated and will keep the estimations meaningful. We’ll explain this in more detail below. It will be displayed on the Calendar and Gantt chart for premium users. This value can be left empty for boards that do not represent a time-boxed iteration or sprint.
  • Due date: This date is the expected finishing date (or deadline) of the board. This one does not affect metrics, it’s informative only, but it’s very helpful to manage development times and create a roadmap. It will also be displayed on the Calendar and Gantt chart.
  • General info: This is a Markdown-based text field where you can add extended information about the board.

Working with boards

Once an iteration board has started, you are going to spend most of your time in two sections: the kanban board, for tracking the progress of work items, and the metrics or the dashboards, for getting information about how’s everything going compared to your initial estimations

Note: When you are working on a board, you might want it to be opened by default when you access the kanban board or selected when you are creating items. For this to happen, you need to set the board as project default by going to Administration → Boards & milestones, and clicking on the star icon that appears on the right when hovering over the board.

Once all the tasks have been completed or the deadline has been reached, you can Close the board to archive it. This can be achieved in several ways: 

  • From the Administration section  → Boards & milestones, click on the lock icon that appears on the right when hovering over the board.
  • From the header of the kanban board itself, by clicking on Actions  (ellipsis icon at the top right of the screen) → Close board.
  • From the board itself, click on the lock icon that appears on the right when hovering over the board.

Note: When closing the board, in case you have reached the deadline but there are work items that have not been completed, you have the possibility to leave them on that board, move them to another board or send them to the backlog.

You can also edit, close, clone and delete boards, which is performed from the Administration →  Boards & milestones section or from the board itself, click on the trash icon that appears on the right when hovering over the board. When a board is deleted, a dialog box appears in which it will be necessary to confirm whether the work items contained in the board should be deleted as well. In case you do not want to delete them, all the work items inside are moved to the backlog automatically.

Understanding board metrics

The metrics page (Reports → Metrics section) and the board info tab (header of the kanban board) provides several figures to evaluate the board by comparing the outcome with the initial estimations.

  • Work items
    • Estimated (at start date): The number of items estimated for the board. This field is calculated differently depending on whether the start date of the board is set or not. When the start date is not set, this field just displays the sum of all items on the board. However, when the start date is set, it’s used to determine the scope of the board better and the estimated metric is frozen at the sum of all tasks at the moment of starting the board. Why is that? The goal of this is to keep the real initial estimations of a board no matter what happens with tasks inside; if they are moved, estimations change or whatever. This is the best way to keep meaningful metrics of past boards you can come back to.
    • Estimated (current): When the start date is set, the estimation may differ from what’s on the board at the moment. This metric shows the current sum of items. This is very useful to see if the board scope is varying too much after starting the board.
    • Open: The number of items on the board that are not yet closed.
    • Closed: The number of items on the board that were closed (moved to a stage with the Closed status, such as Completed).
    • Progress bar: The percentage of closed items (including removed ones) vs the pending ones.
  • Cost
    • Estimated (at start date): The amount of effort (time or points) estimated for the board. Exactly like the estimated metric for items, this one shows the sum of estimated cost values in all items at the moment of starting the board when the start date is set.
    • Estimated (current): Same as for items, shows the sum of estimations of the items that are currently on the board.
    • Logged: The amount of effort logged into the items of the board.
    • Open: The number of estimated time or points that belong to items that are still open.
    • Closed: The number of estimated time or points that belong to items that are closed (moved to a stage with the Closed status, such as Completed).
    • Progress: The percentage is calculated by subtracting the closed and removed cost from the initial estimation.