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Topics: Agile, Scheduling, Scrum
Any recommendations on Kanban boards techniques and managing dependencies across epics in a single product?
1. Tried and tested Kanboard techniques
2. Epic dependency management (apart from tagging dependency in JIRA which does not create any alerts of delays, manual data analysis is required)
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I did not understand if you are talking about the method/system (Kanban) or about a tool (JIRA). After working with several tools to support Kanban boards (let me say that Kanban is a whole method not a board then today people call Kanban board to everything which looks like color postist in a wall or similar) the key is change the way of thinking and behave. No tool (at least tools I use like Azure DevOps) will give you alerts except for putting a label in red or things like that in a specific card if and only if you assign a date to it. The point is: a Kanban board will not show alerts or things like that. It does not matter in Kanban. The alert for each one is the position of bucket where the card is located.
Thanks for the response, Sergio. My mistake, should have listed questions separately.
1. I am interested to know about WIP limit in Kanban board, has it helped? Can you also list a threshold for MVP in backlog prioritizations?
2. Dependency management is second question, where JIRA is not very helpful so how do you manage it?
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Aug 04, 2020 8:53 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
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No problem. You have to take into account this: Kanban is not about schedule. Kanban board, the tool, show things team’s workflow, not the way you wish things happened, or the way stakeholders think things get done. Show the reality. So the big mistake is thinking that you can use Kanban if you are thinking to manage dependencies or things like that. It does not exists in Kanban, you have to use other method if you need that. When the Kanban board is created then you need a rule to handle the work into each column (usually TO DO, DOING, DONE. You do not need more than that). This is the WIP. Each column has a limit then no new items are added to the column if the limit is reached. So, you need to move items form the column to add another one.
Aug 04, 2020 8:43 PM
Replying to Sheela Colluray
...
Thanks for the response, Sergio. My mistake, should have listed questions separately.
1. I am interested to know about WIP limit in Kanban board, has it helped? Can you also list a threshold for MVP in backlog prioritizations?
2. Dependency management is second question, where JIRA is not very helpful so how do you manage it?
No problem. You have to take into account this: Kanban is not about schedule. Kanban board, the tool, show things team’s workflow, not the way you wish things happened, or the way stakeholders think things get done. Show the reality. So the big mistake is thinking that you can use Kanban if you are thinking to manage dependencies or things like that. It does not exists in Kanban, you have to use other method if you need that. When the Kanban board is created then you need a rule to handle the work into each column (usually TO DO, DOING, DONE. You do not need more than that). This is the WIP. Each column has a limit then no new items are added to the column if the limit is reached. So, you need to move items form the column to add another one.
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1 reply by Sheela Colluray
Aug 05, 2020 4:30 PM
Sheela Colluray
...
Thanks for the pointers, Sergio.
Sheela -

1. It is a good idea to reduce dependencies as much as possible between work items. If you are writing stories, remember the I in INVEST stands for independent.

2. Story maps can be used to highlight dependencies (drawing arrows between related work items) but if you are looking at tooling support, I'm only familiar with the Atlassian suite so not sure whether other products do a better job of handling that.

Kiron
Thanks for the guidance listed, Kiron. Very helpful.
We use JIRA to map our epics and stories. However, I am more interested in tagging epic dependencies. Any thoughts? is it a manual effort in excel?
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1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Aug 05, 2020 4:57 PM
Kiron Bondale
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Unless it is a huge release, there shouldn't be too many epics. As such, the prioritization of which epic's stories are worked on first can just be handled by the Product Owner as part of their normal backlog refinement. Because JIRA allows you to see the epics associated with work items in the backlog view, this should simplify the prioritization process as long as the PO knows in what order the epics need to be completed.

Kiron
Aug 04, 2020 8:53 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
No problem. You have to take into account this: Kanban is not about schedule. Kanban board, the tool, show things team’s workflow, not the way you wish things happened, or the way stakeholders think things get done. Show the reality. So the big mistake is thinking that you can use Kanban if you are thinking to manage dependencies or things like that. It does not exists in Kanban, you have to use other method if you need that. When the Kanban board is created then you need a rule to handle the work into each column (usually TO DO, DOING, DONE. You do not need more than that). This is the WIP. Each column has a limit then no new items are added to the column if the limit is reached. So, you need to move items form the column to add another one.
Thanks for the pointers, Sergio.
Aug 05, 2020 4:30 PM
Replying to Sheela Colluray
...
Thanks for the guidance listed, Kiron. Very helpful.
We use JIRA to map our epics and stories. However, I am more interested in tagging epic dependencies. Any thoughts? is it a manual effort in excel?
Unless it is a huge release, there shouldn't be too many epics. As such, the prioritization of which epic's stories are worked on first can just be handled by the Product Owner as part of their normal backlog refinement. Because JIRA allows you to see the epics associated with work items in the backlog view, this should simplify the prioritization process as long as the PO knows in what order the epics need to be completed.

Kiron
I think that VersionOne would provide you with this type of automated tool.
If there are multiple User Stories that have dependencies between multiple Epics - I would retrospect on either: A. slicing the buckets in different groupings or B. investing time in creating a dependecy & prioritization view in Jira (or one of Jira workflows) to closely manage them with PO
Thanks for the response, Andrew. VersionOne sounds interesting. We don't use that within the bank.

I will follow the guideline you provided for user stories. Just that some of my products are such that I am relying on cross channel partners who have their way of listing Epics which are too many as I feel. Mine would be 2-3 Epics as part of their larger initiative which makes it tricky to map dependency. However, I will try the method you have described for my epics set.
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2 replies by Andrew Soswa and Sheela Colluray
Aug 07, 2020 5:38 PM
Andrew Soswa
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Thank you for providing more information that you have multiple vendors. I did not fully catch that before. It appears that you have a real coordination issue at hand.
Here is what I would do:
1. Understand whether the vendor delivers MVP (in Agile style) or fully-completed product (in waterfall style). Their delivery style will help you plan the releases to your stakeholders/customers
2. For each vendor, assign one swimlane, in their swimlane list all Epics
3. Break Epics into user stories.
4. Create dependencies between user stories in various Epics
5. Find out your critical path and release path
6. Update status daily

Without an automated tool - it will be a really difficult to properly track, ensure delivery, and report to stakeholders and you'd have to be really good at updating status daily (since I doubt that all vendors would have same release cadence)
Aug 07, 2020 5:44 PM
Sheela Colluray
...
That is super helpful. The internal tool we use is JIRA so I have my own Kanban board and Confluence page is where I map dependencies as it is easy to integrate JIRA. A bit of manual set up but don't see any other way like the automation tool you mentioned.

I try to tag dependency labels for my Epics in JIRA but the problem comes with data integrity with delayed status updates from other teams who are the owners of the Epics...
@ Andrew Soswa, @Kiron Bondale, @ Sergio Luis Conte
Thank You! Very helpful and timely....
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