The Planner is a simple yet powerful tool to plan and tackle development tasks and timelines. Use the Planner in many different ways:
a) Plan Iterations or Sprints
Many Assembla users sit down and plan as a group with the Planner each week or each month.
Use it with a client or your team to plan and launch a project. Create user stories that capture what you want to achieve and then built task around these stories to accomplish project goals. Drag-and-drop these stories to create a roadmap for your project.
c) Distributed Planning
Create a top-level story/feature, and then ask the developer to fill in more detailed “child” tasks needed to complete the story/feature. This can make the developer feel more confident, and it makes the work required more visible.
d) Estimate Timelines
Update estimated time expenditures for each task, story, or feature with one click from the main Agile Planner view. This gives you an estimated timeline for each task, story/feature, and milestone and allows you to plan and adjust accordingly.
Here’s how it looks in real life:
2. Elements of Planner
Let’s explore each UI element step-by-step.
a) Filter by Tag
First thing we come across is "Filter by Tag" dropdown. And it’s obviously doing pretty much the same as in List view: forces Planner to display tickets, containing the chosen tag only.
As you see, Planner is divided into 3 main columns which represent Milestones:
- No Milestone
"No Milestone" column will be there by default and you may change the Milestones that are displayed in two other columns by clicking on them.
There are 2 numbers in each Milestone header:
- First one with icon, which displays number of tickets within this column,
- And the second one (), which displays total amount of estimated points.
d) New Ticket box
The "New Ticket" box on the left helps you to create new tickets without switching to standard ticket creating workflow. Just enter the new ticket summary, description, assign an Estimate - and you are ready to go!
If you need more ticket data to be added, click on "More Fields" which will toggle some input fields and dropdowns or go directly into Full page form and submit a ticket out of there.
Once you have some tickets, you can play around with them by dragging between different Milestones.
3. Ticket interface elements
As you might have noticed, each ticket has its own interface elements.
- By clicking the Star icon () on a ticket, you may follow/unfollow it.
- Hitting the icon increases/decreases amount of estimate points for this ticket.
- Up () /Down () buttons on the right move ticket all the way up or down to the top or bottom of the column accordingly.
- Cogwheel icon () toggles the context menu, where you can change the ticket parameters.
- If you click the button at the left side of a ticket, you will see that it has expanded:
Now you may drag another tickets inside of it. This will automatically change the type of this ticket to Story and make dragged tickets its Subtasks. Please note that if another ticket already has subtasks, you can not drag it inside of this ticket: there is only one hierarchy level for Stories (a Story can not be a subtask of another Story).
4. Ready Line
The Ready-line keeps important tickets at the top of your Backlog in Planner, preventing them from getting lost. You may drag-and-drop the bar to the desired location or drag and drop tickets into this area to separate work that is ready to be worked on from work that is still be flushed out.
Tickets above the Ready-Line can be easily moved into your Current milestone or vice versa. This ensures that the most important tickets are next in the queue while giving a clear area for your developer's to pull work from.
Current milestone has its Capacity, which is measured in Estimate points or Tickets. Planner Capacity can be adjusted via Tickets > Settings > Planner OR you can do it directly from planner by clicking on the read box next to "Capacity".
Once you have some free Capacity in a Current milestone, you may click ‘Load’ button and some tickets will be automatically moved from Backlog to Current, filling it until the Capacity is full. You may also unload the current milestone at any time or drag tickets inside of it manually even if their estimate is larger than current Capacity.
You can find more information about estimates here.
6. Use cases for Planner
a) To sort your tasks
Make a plan by sorting the Backlog list of tasks into the order that you want to work on them. Move urgent tasks to the top. Move tickets from the top of Backlog to Current with the "Load" button, or by dragging them manually.
The simplest way to sort is to use the arrow icons for "Send to top" – send a ticket that you want to work on now to the top of the Backlog, and "Send to bottom" – send a ticket that you do not want to work on now to the bottom of the backlog. You will see these icons in the New and Backlog columns. You can also sort with drag and drop.
b) To manage a Kanban process
Enter a capacity on top of the Current column. Capacity is the number of points that you want to see on your Kanban board. Add estimates to tickets. Select "Load" to move tickets into Current. Do this frequently so that you always have approximately the right number of Current tickets. You will see your current tickets on the Cardwall in a traditional Kanban board view.
With a Kanban or lean process, you want to control the number of tasks (WIP or Work In Progress) so that someone is working on each task, and no task is just waiting. This simple tactic allows you to deliver each task as quickly as possible, which is efficient, and very satisfying. You can ensure that each task is being worked on by controlling the number of tickets, not the size of the tickets. We often recommend an estimate setting of "Do not estimate" (which will load ticket counts and not points), and a capacity that allows one, two, or three tickets per team member.
c) To manage a Scrum or iterative process
To start a sprint - Enter a capacity. Select "Load" to move tickets into Current and start your iteration.
To finish a sprint - "Show closed tickets" in the Current column. You will see all of the closed tickets in the Current milestone. Select "Close Iteration". This will close and rename the Current milestone. Give this old milestone a name that describes your sprint or release. It will create a new Current milestone, and move any open tickets to that new Current milestone.
With a scrum or iterative process, you will want to estimate the total amount of work that you can do in an iteration. Use Small/Medium/Large or integer points.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.