Visualize and improve your team’s progress with Shortcut
Shortcut is the ideal project management tool for software product development teams that value seeing the big picture. Whether your team is using Kanban methodology, Agile, a mix of the two, or neither, visualizations of your engineering efforts can help you:
- quickly check and share status;
- identify patterns; and
- effectively plan for the future.
For these reasons and many more, we provide rich graphic representations and reporting of your data throughout the Shortcut application. In this blogpost, we will walk you through the various charts, graphs, and progress bars that we make available to you and suggestions for how to best use them.
The Status View
The Status page provides a high-level view of what Stories are assigned to members of the organization. This visualization is a quick and easy way to see who may be overloaded and who may have availability to pick up new tasks. Many teams find the Status view handy for daily standups.
The Many Ways to Track Your Progress
Progress is tracked on a scale of 0–100% on several progress bars throughout Shortcut. Unstarted work is tracked in grey or blue, work in progress is light green, completed work is bright green, and in the case of Epic tracking on the Reports page decreases in progress towards completion are represented in red.
Progress bars are found on the Epics, Milestones, Labels, and Reports pages.
Epic progress bars are available on the Epics page in both the Column and Table view as well as in the summary section of every Epic Page. Epics can be sorted by “doneness” on the Progress column in the Table view on the Epics page. The next column is Due Date, and looking at progress against due dates (if you use them) can be helpful in assessing Epic status and adjusting due dates or resources accordingly.
Progress against any Stories and Epics tagged with a Label will be tracked here. Stories in an Epic with a Label will “inherit” that Label. Epics do not inherit any Labels and must be explicitly labelled to track their progress on this page.
Some teams that work in iterations have been able to model sprints using Labels and the Shortcut Reports page can be filtered against Labels.
Milestone Progress is visualized on the Milestones Page and on the individual Milestone’s and works quite the same as Epic Progress. It tracks how completed the Milestone is as well as progress on the Epics it contains.
Clicking into a Milestone will give you a table view that allows you to sort by Progress as well as any of the other fields.
Tracking Your Team’s Trends with Charts and Graphs
Charts and graphs are useful in tracking how Stories move through the various stages of your workflow. They can also give you a valuable sense of how your team has been performing over a period of days, weeks, or months.
The Cumulative Flow Diagrams / “Burnups”
The Cumulative Flow Diagram (also known as a “burn-up chart” or the “cumulative input-output diagram) is found under Epics in Shortcut and is the a graphical representation of an Epic’s number of Stories over time, grouped by Workflow State. When used correctly, your Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) can help you track inflows and outflows of work as well as identify (and hopefully unblock!) bottlenecks.
According to Donald G. Reinertsen in his seminal book on lean product development, The Principles of Produce Development Flow:
“Queue size only shows the balances between arrivals and departures. But a change in queue size doesn’t tell us it the queue is causes by excess arrivals or by insufficient departures. With a CFD we can see exactly which of these factors is a problem. Furthermore, on a CFD, we can observe the time dependency of demand and capacity.”
The x-axis on the CFD is time and the Y axis is the number of Stories or estimated Story Points. Every color in the bar chart represents a group of Stories in a workflow state. An Epic making solid process will see a steady decrease in bars that indicate work in Unstarted workflow states and an increase in bars with work in Completed workflow states. (More on Workflow States in Shortcut here.)
The Burndown Chart is a graphical representation of completed and outstanding Stories over time and is a valuable metric for agile teams . It can be a useful predictor of when all Stories in a given Epic will be completed. Shortcut offers burndowns against Milestones and Epics, and they can be found on their respective Reports tabs.
The x-axis of the Burndown Chart represents time, while the y-axis measures number of Stories in the Epic. The actual number of outstanding Stories is represented by blue line.
On Stories without a due date, an orange line represents the projected burn of work (Stories or Story Points) within an Epic and will end on the date when the system calculates all work in this Epic will be completed based on your current pace of completion or “burn rate”. The blue line having moved near or below the orange line will indicate that you’re moving on or quicker than suggested pace. A blue line consistently over the orange line means you are moving slower.
If your Epic does have a Due Date, a green line will indicate the ideal burn of Stories or Story Points necessary to make your desired due date. The blue line trending near or below the orange line indicates that you’re moving on or quicker than the calculated “ideal” pace. A blue line consistently over the green line means you are moving slower than ideal and will likely miss your deadline. Hovering over the lines for a given day will give you Actual vs. Ideal numbers.
In Shortcut, Velocity Charts can be found in Project, Epic, and Milestone Reports. The Velocity Chart is a bar chart representation of Stories or Story Points completed across several iterations and also surfaces trends in how your team has performed over the last 12 weeks and highlights the average amount of Stories or Story Points over that time period. Using Velocity Charts can help agile teams understand patterns and set targets for future work.
According to the Agile Alliance:
“Knowing velocity, the team can compute (or revise) an estimate of how long the project will take to complete, based on the estimates associated with remaining user stories and assuming that velocity over the remaining iterations will remain approximately the same.”
Completed Stories and Completed Epics
Completed Stories and Epics on the Shortcut Reports Page
The Reports page helps you visualize completed work and progress towards Epic completion across Stories, Epics, Milestones, and Projects. Reports can be viewed either within your current iteration (if you use iterations) or a custom timeframe.
….But That’s Not All!
As indicated by the beta label in the application sidebar, we continue to actively iterate on visualizations and reports in Shortcut to surface the information that matters to our users most. We welcome your feedback about what other sorts of pictures of your data would help you and your team understand and improve your work.