The Corrello Blog

Thoughts on Scrum and Agile with Trello

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Agile Tools for Trello – WIP Limits, Story points and and time in List

So… You want WIP Limits for your Trello boards? Story Points? Card time in List and slow card highlighting?

Well, you’re in the right place because we just launched the full V1 feature set of the Agile Tools Power-Up for Trello. Check it out!

Agile Tools for Trello feature overview

WIP Limits

Kanban teams limit their Work in Progress (WIP) to match the team’s capacity. This is usually set per list in Trello, ie we have separate limits for Coding, Code Review and Testing. Setting a WIP limit for a given list should not mean that the team cannot exceed the limit, but that if the limit is exceeded it is highlighted to the team. Agile Tools shows the WIP limits set for each list on the cards in the list, highlighting when the limit is met or exceeded with Amber/Red card badges.

Keep track of your WIP limits directly on your Trello boards, regardless of the browser your team members use.

WIP Limits for Trello

If you haven’t already split your process out by list (ie Dev, Code Review, Test) in Trello then this could be a good excuse to look at it.  Learn more about Agile Tools WIP Limits.

Story Points

Story points are often used by Scrum teams to estimate the effort required to complete some card or other.  It is the relative values of the points on one card to another which matters most with Story Points. They are typically limited to the Fibonacci numbers to ensure that differences of one or two points on large tasks don’t hold people up from just getting a good enough estimate down.

With the Agile Tools Power-Up you and your team can add story points to any cards from a control on the back of each card. Points are shown on the front and back of each card as well as totals for each list in the Agile Tools board menu.

Story Points for Trello

Lear more about Story Points in the Agile Tools Power-Up.

Card time in List and Slow card highlighting

Tracking how long cards have been in each list allows you to do a few clever things. Firstly, you can spot potential cycle time issues before they happen, getting cards which have been in a list a long time moving before they cause a problem. Also, you can see the cards which have been in backlog lists the longest. Is it time to move them out of the backlog? Or are they definitely still required?

The Agile Tools Power-Up annotates all Trello cards with details of how long they have been in their current list. We also highlight cards which have been in their current list ‘Too Long’ as defined by settings in your Corrello Dashboards. This is the only feature which requires a subscription to Corrello.

Card time in list for TrelloCard time in list for Trello- slow card highlighted

See full details about Card time in List for Trello.

That’s it for now.  Do check out and install the FREE Agile Tools Power-Up for Trello. And drop us a line if you’ve any suggestions for improvements 🙂

Daily briefing emails for Scrum teams using Trello

We’re all busy right? You’re busy, I’m busy, that go over there… what’s he even doing? well, at least he’s busy!

Too often we’re too busy for our own good though and can’t take the time to get the information we need to make the most of our days. Enter Corrello’s small move to help you get the information you need at the start of every day. The Daily Scrum team briefing email!

All Scrum teams using Corrello now get this email each morning (around 8am), No need to miss the important information you need to act on because you haven’t got time to open Corrello.

Not a Corrello customer? check out our Free Trial.

In this email you can see

  • Top line stats about cards completed, added, removed and re-estimated in the current sprint
  • The current Burndown chart, are you on target for the sprint?
  • The cards in progress, where they are and how long they have been in progress for
  • Cards added, removed, re-estimated and completed

This makes it super easy to keep on top of things going on in your boards and to never miss an important change again, even if you don’t have time to check Corrello every morning.

If you are a Scrum team using Corrello you should start receiving these emails soon. If you aren’t currently using Corrello why not check out our Free Trial?

Tracking slow cards in Trello

I am excited to announce we have just added slow card tracking in Corrello. You can use this to track any cards in Trello which have got stuck in progress for longer than usual in any list.

We also show the average card age per list:

This is all very easy to configure. By default it shows cards as slow if they have been in the list longer than the 85 percentile line for recent cycle times. You can override that and choose you own time for each list though if you prefer.

This is great for finding cards which are stuck for some reason of for heading off cycle time issues before they happen.

Check this out on your Corrello Dashboards or sign up for a Free Trial if you aren’t already a customer.

Announcing the Trello agile tools power-up (story points, WIP plus more)

Finally, story points in a Trello Power-Up! Plus more! coming soon! 🙂

We have just released our latest Trello Power-Up, called ‘Agile Tools’. It is all about bringing features for Agile teams into a single Trello Power-Up you can install and use for free without any Corrello subscription. Find it in the Trello Power-Ups directory on the Menu in the top right on your Trello boards.

The first feature adds Story Points to your cards. Much like the popular ‘Scrum for Trello’ browser plugin except this works as a Power-Up within Trello itself.

On top of that, if you have been using the Scrum for Trello Power-Up we can import your points data over from Scrum for Trello into our new Power up.

Check out all the features here GetCorrello.com/AgileTools

In the near future we will be adding WIP limits and slow card highlighting. If you have any suggestions for features you would like to see please let us know in the comments 🙂

Filter Cycle times for your Trello boards by Label

Yeeehaaaa!

I am excited to finally announce that you can now filter your Control chart and Cycle times by label in Corrello, check it out!

Cycle times are a great tool, but sometimes you want to be able to get cycle times not just as a whole across the team but broken down by class of task. For example, what is your cycle time for bugs? Or for all tasks except ‘Production server’ ones? Or just the enhancements?

All that and more is now possible in Corrello. You can view the Control chart and cycle times as a total of all cards in the date range selected, or just for certain selected labels. Or even for cards with no labels.

You can check this out now on your own dashboards, simply log in to your dashboards. Or if you don’t currently have an account feel free to sign up to give it a go.

Watch this space for plenty more improvements in the coming months!

Communicating team performance to your boss

Measuring the performance of a development team is notoriously difficult. People have tried using lines of code, function points and other more complex measures. Some still rely on tracking the hours developers spend in the office as the key measure of value produced :). Even when you trust everyone is working their best it is still a struggle to see if a team is more or less productive one month to the next, because they never produce the same thing twice. Yet we’d still like to know, and so would those we report to.

Today we will look at two pieces of data and how to explain those to your boss so they can see the improving (or consistently high) performance your team is achieving.

Using cycle time to explain improvements to your boss

Take a look at these figures from the previous post about removing bottlenecks in our process.


The total time in progress here shows that if your boss asks how long a random card will take you can tell them with 50% certainty that it will be done in a week. Maybe they want to be more certain than a coin toss that you will deliver on time? In that case you will need to estimate 1 ½ months to get to 95% certainty!

Now imagine in 6 months time if after a lot of work and improvement our numbers look like this


Now we can tell our boss that if they pick a random card and ask how long it will take to complete you can be 95% certain it will be completed in 2 weeks or less. On top of that, half of the cards worked on get completed in under 2 days.

Now your boss may think they can get work done this fast already, the point here is that these times are delivered by the team without any disruption to their process. It is possible now that boss requests are expedited at the cost of other tasks. No one really wants that.

Explaining things like this is something people outside of development teams can often appreciate. Knowing they can ask for something to be done and have a high level of certainty it can be delivered 2 weeks later without it disrupting the teams work is good to know. I am sure your boss would agree that going from nearly 7 weeks to deliver something to 2 weeks would make a huge difference to the businesses ability to deliver work on time and react to changes. That might be a good time to bring up your team’s next bonus 🙂

Obviously there could questions around relative card size or complexity. While it could be that the team is working on smaller tasks (no bad thing in itself) there is a limit to how far those improvements can go. This is where the CFD comes in, to help show how we got these improvements.

Using the CFD to show your process improvements

Let’s look at two CFDs. This first one which suggests a few things we should look to improve in our process.


What we can see here are frequent buildups of work in various parts of our process. A few questions spring to mind here, e.g. does code review always need to take so long? The same could be asked of the ‘Ready for deploy’ list.

Now if we take that as the before picture you can show your boss, here is the after picture some months down the line.


Here we have done three things:

1. Reduced the number of cards in the code review and ready for deploy lists.

This is probably one of the most impactful changes in this CFD. If you tell people that you now get work done 3x as fast as before they may not believe it. Yet if you show them that time spent on these cards previously was mostly spent waiting in these lists, and that you have reduced that time down they can see how it was achieved. By getting cards out of those lists faster you have sped up the whole process end to end.

2. Dramatically reduced the scale of the buildups of work in all of the lists

Reducing the scale of buildups should be understood as a good thing since it means people are not getting overloaded with too much work as those lumps work their way through the system. This has an impact both on quality and the ability for cards to get quickly through the process.

3. Reduced the amount of work in progress in total

Finally, by reducing the total amount of work in progress you let the team focus on delivering a smaller amount of work all at once. Rather than context switching and trying to focus on too many things at the same time. This again allows them to get cards completed faster.

To summarise, showing improved performance with Corrello comes down to

  1. Showing that the average time from starting work on a card to completing it has been reduced. And that you can now say with 95% certainty for some randomly selected card that it will be done in X days.
  2. Showing how those changes came about with the change in the CFD chart.

It’s still a little technical, but it’s backed up with actual data about your team. Hopefully it gets the message across that these improvements are real. And, once you have the performance you want it is still useful to be able to show these numbers and charts as evidence things continue to work well.

If you’ve read this far and you’ve not got a Corrello account you should try out our 14 day FREE trial.

 

Using cycle time and a cumulative flow diagram to get more work done by eliminating the bottlenecks in your process

Today I want to share something successful teams do to improve their process and get more work done, delivering projects on time and making their clients and bosses happier :). You don’t need to be using Corrello to benefit from this post but you will need to know your cycle times and have a CFD for your process. If you’re using Trello why not get a 14 day free trial of Corrello and check out your numbers.

We will be looking at two things in Corrello, the cumulative flow diagram and the cycle time numbers. What we are looking for is bottlenecks in your process. Once you have a good idea of where they are I will show you how to communicate them to your team so they can see and fix them.

First stop – Cycle time stats

Here we see the cycle time stats for a pretty typical development team where tasks are coded, code reviewed, tested and then moved to done.

email-bottlenecks-cycletime-lists

The numbers we are interested in here are in the second table showing the time spent in each list. If you don’t currently split your in progress lists up for each step in your process you may want to make the change so you can get this information.

We will focus on the code review column here which shows that

  • 50% of the time we code review a card in 2 days or less
  • 85% of the time it takes 3 days or less
  • 95% of the time it takes up to 16 days!

The question to ask is when we spend 2 days or more in code review, is that because we’re being super careful about code quality and making sure everything is perfect? Or, is it because cards are waiting to be code reviewed for 2 days before someone finally takes the time to check it over? I think we all know the answer. Asking your team will likely elicit the same response. We are all in the business of delivering working code to our customers, so something which has been started already should be pushed through the system before we start something new. Task your team with getting this number down and you will see your whole process improve as cards a delivered sooner.

Obviously the list or lists you will choose to focus on will be unique to you. I would only suggest picking one and tasking your team with improving that before tackling the next one. Rather than risk weighing them down with multiple improvements all at once.

Second place to look – the Cumulative Flow Diagram

Here we have the cumulative flow diagram for the same team, currently only showing the work in progress lists.

email-bottlenecks-cfd-wip

What we can see here are the same details we have above but without the specifics about how long cards are spending in these lists. We can see that the code review list generally has 3 to 5 cards in it each day. That means 3 to 5 cards were in the list for at least one day. If we were to drive down the amount of time cards spent in code review we should see that green segment shrink down and quite likely disappear altogether.

This is often the best way to show the data to your team. The aim for them then is to reduce the size of the green line. Which simply means reducing the amount of cards in the code review list. Those are simpler steps to take than ‘trying to do code review faster’ although they have the same effect. It is also easy to see the improvement day by day on the CFD. If you use Slack you can install the Corrello Slack app to show your team the improving CFD chart each day.

Next steps

Hopefully you have another minute or two? If so, you should…

  • Log in to Corrello and open your dashboard (or start a free trial if you aren’t already using Corrello)
  • Take a look at the history tab to see if you can identify a list you want your team to focus on
  • Take screenshots of the CFD and jot down the cycle times to show to your team
  • Decide when you will talk to your team about the improvements you would like to see

That’s it for today. Next week we will look at what a healthy CFD and cycle time chart look like. After that we will tackle the tricky issue of communicating team performance to your boss.

New ACTIONABLE email reports for your Trello boards help improve your team performance

OK, I’ll admit it. The old email reports Corrello sent out were rubbish 🙁

Especially compared to the new ones! 🙂 If you want analytics and reporting to help you improve your team performance delivered direct to your inbox you’ll love the new email reports.

For those of you sprinting you will see your latest burndown chart, the trend for how much work was left at the end of the last 3 sprints and how much work was added or removed from those sprints. You can use this to look for trends, such as

  • Are you regularly leaving a lot of work uncompleted at the end of each sprint? Perhaps you are over committing when sprint planning
  • Is work regularly added into the sprints? This could be putting pressure on your teams, maybe you need to push back more on unplanned work coming into the sprint.

There is also information on

  • Which cards took the longest to complete recently
  • What your Cycle time trends are looking like
  • Your recent work in progress trends

As well as the last 3 weeks (or sprints) trend for all the stats you’ve asked Corrello to track for you.

Not got a Corrello account? Join the free trial and start improving your team performance this week.

 

What labels are in your Trello backlog and how long will it take to complete those cards?

The latest (small) update to Corrello adds the ability to see what cards are in your backlog based on both the list they are in and the labels they have assigned.

backlog_lists_labels

For the labels you can see how many cards with each label are on the backlog, how many are currently in progress and an estimat of how long it would take to complete them all. This can be especially useful if you use labels in Trello to group cards into Epics (or other collections of cards). This way you can see how long it would take to complete an individual Epic assuming you focused the efforts of the team on that one piece of work.

For the lists you can see how many cards are in each and an estimate of how long it will take to complete all the cards in that list assuming you focused all your efforts on completing those cards. This can be useful for Kanban teams so you can be sure you have enough work ready for the team to work on, as well as an estimate of the size of the outstanding backlog. If you are using lists to store upcoming releases this also gives an idea of how long it will take to complete each upcoming release, particularly useful in combination with the project burnup charts in Corrello.

You can check out the new features in your dashboards here. If you don’t have a Corrello account you can check out all the features and try out our 14 day free trial here.

In the screenshot above we are reporting estimates in terms of cards and sprints to complete the work. For Kanban teams this would be shown in weeks and for teams using Story points this would be reported in terms of points rather than cards.

This is the second addition to the backlog tab in recent months, after the inclusion of the Burnup charts previously. There should be more improvements coming here in future, if you have suggestions please do comment below or drop us an email 🙂

Slack + Trello + Corrello = Trello Burndowns, CFDs and stats in your Slack Channels

Corrello + Slack = Burndowns, CFDs and Stats for your Trello boards in Slack

Apologies for the long title, there’s a lot of services getting tied together in this update!

I just launched the Corrello Slack app, you can try it out here. If you’re not familiar with Corrello, it’s a dashboard for agile teams using Trello. You can use it to see Burndown charts, release forecasts, cumulative flow diagrams, cycle time and much more for your Trello boards. The Corrello Slack app gives you access to some of those features directly in your Slack channels.

The Corrello Slack app adds these three commands to your Slack channels:

/burndown

burndown_small

The burndown command lets you get the latest burndown chart from one of your Corrello dashboards. This is the burndown for the current sprint as is visible to everyone in the channel, great for standups!

/cfd

cfd_small

The /cfd command shows you the last 2 weeks from the Cumulative flow diagram for one of your dashboards. Clicking the link in the title takes you to the full CFD where you can choose what date range you want and turn lists on and off.

/stats

stats_small

The stats command pulls the stats for the latest sprint (or week, if you’re not using sprints) for one of your dashboards. These are all color coded the same as they are in Corrello, clicking on them takes you directly to the list of matching cards. The stats displayed are the ones you have set up for that dashboard, they can include counts of cards (or points if you’re using them) completed, due, overdue or with specific labels (ie ‘bugs’).

That’s all folks! If you’ve already got a Corrello account you can add the Slack app here here. If you don’t have an account yet you can sign up for a free trial here.

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