Azure DevOps is a great tool for managing your backlog and what your team is focused on “Now”. And although it’s not a project planning tool per se, many a software development team relies on the metrics that come from these systems to answer the following questions to our teams at large;
Who is working on what?
What is next?
How long are we taking to complete the work?
Where should our focus lie for the next sprint?
Enter Azure DevOps Delivery Plans.
How does it work?
Azure DevOps Delivery Plans are a great way for you to marry the worlds of Software Development and Project Planning together. Essentially it lets you plot out long-term views for delivery by Epic, Feature, and Story level giving your users the visibility and confidence for when work will be completed. Delivery Plans don’t replace your sprints, what they do is give your users an indication of how that work has been done.
In some groups that we work with, we have added customizations into Azure DevOps to track our initial estimate vs our targets and actuals so we can continue to improve at planning as we move from release to release. To work with Azure DevOps Delivery Plans, all you need to do is go to the DevOps marketplace, download the Delivery Plans extension and then start dragging around your work.
Our favourite feature (shown above) is the Milestone Marker feature that lets you place important Milestones on the plan (i.e., internal releases, beta releases, etc) that allow you to line up your work against those Milestones.
One of the best values we have found from working with our clients is to give them that 10,000, 15,000, 30,000 ft view of the project and show them where we see conflicts on the horizon that we need to take into account for future planning of team growth and feature development.
Version 2.0 is the Horizon
Slated for release sometime in Q1 of 2021, the next version of DevOps is going to be even better as it will now be able to show the progression of feature completion and allow you to place custom fields onto the boards of your liking. In some of our cases, we put the Feature owner along with the Lead Developer to help with resource tasking. The roll-ups are a great add-on and provide some great insight into how many stories/tasks have been completed and how many bugs exist at a glance.
It’s important to note that if you are looking to move to Delivery Planning, the time to learn the tool is relatively minimal – you can be up and running in a day, and tweaking your plans in another day. We do caution customers to not use Delivery Plans as a replacement for your massive project plans. Project Plans are great for encompassing all activities within a project from translation to sign-off, the Milestones used in Delivery Plans should be kept to Development Delivery Milestones and what matters to that stream of work.
If you have some questions on Delivery Plans or on Azure DevOps feel free to contact us and we’d be happy to answer your questions.