Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up tasks for project initiation and releases, part of Agile Project Management with Microsoft Project.
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- Project initiation and planning are just as important in Agile projects as they are to traditional waterfall projects. In addition to defining the project vision you define the release strategy and duration. In Microsoft Project you can set up these tasks the way you would in waterfall projects, with task dependencies and assigned resources, and let Project calculate the schedule for you. To take a look at theses tasks let's switch to the Gantt Chart View.
On the Task tab click the bottom half of the Gantt Chart button, on the dropdown menu choose Gantt Chart. I'm gonna drag the vertical divider between task name and duration, over to the right, so that I can see the tasks names more easily. As you can see here I've added tasks for initiation and planning, just so that we don't have to create them all. I have the Project Summary task turned on, so I can see the overall view of the project.
If you don't see that, head to the Format tab and over on the right side be sure to turn on the checkbox for Project Summary task. I've also applied the Summary Table here, and if you need to do that you can go to the top-left corner of the table, right-click that, select all cells, and then choose Summary. This projects starts off with a task for Project kickoff. When you look at the time scale I can tell that I've got resources assigned to it, and it's also linked to the first task in Vision definition, so it defines when that task can start.
When I drag the vertical divider between the table and the time scale over to the right I can see the Cost and Work field. Because of assigned resources to these tasks I can see the cost for those assignments and how many work hours are involved. The project vision includes decisions like, how long the project last? And, how much it's supposed to cost? You also determine your approach to releases, how many releases are you gonna have? And, how many sprints within each release? I've set up a Summary task for setting up the project, that includes defining the processes that you're gonna use and setting up your working environment, as well as determining what sprint velocity are you gonna shoot for in your sprints.
When you get to the end of setting up the project there's a milestone for Project setup complete. Now, when I select that task and then go to the Task tab, and over on the right side click Scroll to Task there's a link from that milestone of Setting up the project to the first task in Release 1. Let's move down a little bit in the task list so we can look at theses tasks for Release 1. Release 1 planning doesn't take a lot of time, the duration here is only three and a half days.
What you do to plan a release is you develop the strategy and the vision for that particular release. For example, what is the release gonna focus on? Like creating the basic functionality for an online store. You also put together the strategies for the sprints. I wanna scroll down a little bit further to get pass Sprint number one to point out that there's one other task related to Release 1, and that's task ID 36 here, it's Release 1 build.
That represents the work that goes into building and publishing a release, it doesn't happen instantaneously. Let's add the tasks for Release 2 to this project. The good news is you don't have to start from scratch, we're gonna use the ones from Release 1. So I wanna go back up until I can see those Release 1 tasks, and what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna select these tasks by dragging over their tasks IDs, from task ID 13 to 18 here, that selects the tasks.
Up on the Task tab click Copy, and now those tasks are copied to the clipboard, that means I can scroll down and I wanna put those tasks after the Release 1 build. So I'm gonna click that blank row between Release 1 build and Product backlog to select it, and then on the Task bar, you guessed it, I click the top half of the Paste button. And now I've got copies of those tasks that I can use for Release 2. Well now we're not quite done with copying, I also have to copy this Release 1 build task, we need a build for Release 2 as well.
I'm gonna press "Control+C", that works just as well for copying tasks to the clipboard, and now I come down to that blank row again, select it and press "Control+V", and I have Release 1 build in place. Now, the one thing I'm gonna do here though is I wanna outdent this so it's not part of the Release 1 plan. Up on the Task tab in the Schedule section look for that left-pointing arrow, that's the outdent button.
When you click it bring it out a level. We have the tasks in place but they all say "Release 1", we need to change those so they're "Release 2". Here's a pretty easy way to do that. Let's start by selecting the first task in these copies, that's the copy of Release 1, the Summary task. Now what we're gonna do is we're gonna replace the number "1" with number "2". To do that press "Control+H", that opens up the Replace dialog box, in the "Find what" box, well, we wanna find the number "1".
And what we wanna replace it with? In the "Replace with" box you type number "2". Do not click the Replace All button, that replaces it all throughout your task list and that is definitely not what you want. Instead just go ahead and click the Replace button for the number of times that you need to replace it. And I click the first time to replace it in the Summary task, then when I click it the second time it replaces the Summary task for Release 2 plan.
It turns out I only have to click it two more times. I can tell I'm done when it pops up to the very top of the project, it's gone through all of the occurrences that I needed to replace. So go ahead and click Close, then scroll back down so that you can see Release 2. Now we have to do a few things with links between tasks. The first thing we have to do is we have to link the Release 1 build to the first task in Release 2.
Well, you know how to do that. You select the first task and then "Control+Click" the second task, that's developing the release strategy and vision for Release 2. Then on the Task tab open the Schedule section, click the button for Linking the tasks. If you look over on the timescale there's a blue line, a blue link line between Release 1 build and Develop release strategy and vision.
Now, let's scroll over to the left. One of the things here is Release 1 build is at the very beginning of the project, the only reason that that is the case is because we haven't added the other sprints for Release 1 yet, so this Release 1 build is still sitting at the very beginning of the project, but that will get corrected as soon as we've got the sprints for Release 1 in place. Now I scroll back over to the right and you see these two lines that are coming down from above, well it turns out that the links that were in the Release 1 tasks got copied when we copied the tasks, so we have to clean those up as well.
I'm gonna double-click this first line, it's quite obvious, so when I double-click it sure enough it's a link from Project setup complete to Develop release strategy and vision for Release 2. Well, we don't need that, that's already been taken care of with Release 1. Click the Delete button and that link goes away. Now we've got one more line, double-click that one and that's a link that it's going from Release plan 2 complete, and it's actually going back up to selecting the Sprint 1.1 features, and we definitely don't need that either.
Click Delete. Now that those two links are gone, when I scroll back over in the timescale I have my tasks for Release 2 in place. When the rest of Release 1 sprints are in place you can link them to the Release 1 build, that way Project can schedule the beginning of Release 2 for you. The tasks for initiation and planning work just like tasks in a waterfall project, after you create and link them Project handles calculating the schedule for you.
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- Setting project options
- Defining working time
- Setting up custom fields and views
- Creating tasks
- Assigning features to sprints
- Assigning resources to tasks
- Tracking progress
- Generating a burndown report