Boards and milestones

 

In HacknPlan, a Board represents a group of tasks 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 set partial goals in order to better measure the progress of the project. A board can be of any size and date range, although we strongly recommend to use them as iterations and create 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 tasks that are outside of the regular development lifecycle.

In a typical agile workflow, tasks 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 tasks inside and, eventually (and hopefully on time and with every task closed), the board would be marked as closed and archived.

Creating a board

To create a new board, click on the Create entry of the left menu, or press ‘B’ on your keyboard. You can also create it from the Administration -> Boards and 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.
  • Milestones: 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 in order 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 tasks in the board, and the metrics or the dashboards, for getting information about how’s everything going compared to your initial estimations. Once all the task have been completed or the deadline has been reached, you can Close the board to archive it. This can be achieved from the Administration section or by clicking on Actions -> Close board from the header of the kanban board itself.

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 tasks. For this to happen, you need to set the board as project default by going to Administration -> Boards & milestones, clicking on the ellipsis icon and then Set as default.
You can edit, close and delete boards, which is performed from the  Administration -> Boards & milestones section. When a board is deleted, all the tasks inside are moved to the backlog automatically.

Understanding board metrics

The metrics page provide several figures to evaluate the board by comparing the outcome with the initial estimations.

  • Tasks
    • Estimated (at start date): The number of tasks 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 tasks in 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 keeping 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 board you can come back to.
    • Estimated (current): When the start date is set, the estimation may differ from what’s in the board at the moment. This metric shows the current sum of tasks. This is very useful to see if the board scope is varying too much after starting the board.
    • Pending: The number of tasks in the board which are not yet closed.
    • Closed: The number of tasks in the board that were closed (moved to a stage with the Closed status, such as Completed).
    • Progress: The percentage of closed tasks 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 tasks, this one shows the sum of estimated cost values in all tasks at the moment of starting the board when the start date is set.
    • Estimated (current): Same than for tasks, shows the sum of estimations of the tasks that are currently in the board.
    • Logged: The amount of effort logged into the tasks of the board.
    • Unused: The difference between the estimated cost and the currently logged one. If you close all the tasks allocated for a time-boxed iteration and this value is still higher than 0, it means you used less time than expected to close it, hence you have room for working on something else.
    • Remaining: The difference between the estimated cost and the currently logged one, but only for the tasks that are still open. This is like a countdown of the hours left to close the board.

 

Chris Estevez

HacknPlan Founder

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