Tutorial: Agile and CA Agile Central in Five Easy Steps

This tutorial will guide you through planning an Agile project in five easy steps using the CA Agile Central application. You will learn how to:

  • Create a backlog of user stories
  • Plan a release
  • Plan an iteration
  • Track progress during an iteration
  • View iteration status with a burndown chart

Agile software development refers to a set of principles and practices centered on small, self-organized, cross-functional teams who iteratively and incrementally deliver solutions. Scrum, XP, and Lean Software Development are all well-known Agile frameworks.

Sprinting Safaris, Inc. Roars

Sample scenario: Sprinting Safaris is a thriving adventure travel company, but their current reservation system is manual and out of date. Sprinting Safaris wants to modernize with an online reservation and booking system before the next rainy season hits.

What characteristics of the Sprinting Safaris team make it Agile?

  • Small (5-9 team members)
  • Full-time team members (no changing team structure every quarter)
  • Co-located (or using software to communicate - Skype, IM, CA Agile Central)
  • Self-organizing
  • Cross-functional
  • No egos

1. Create Your Backlog of User Stories

Executives from Sprinting Safaris, Inc have asked for a new online payment and reservation system that contains several new features. The product owner needs to create a list of all the features and requirements for the new system, so the delivery team knows what to build first. This list of requirements is known as a backlog. Requirements on the backlog are known as user stories.

Sprinting Safaris wants their new reservation system to accept credit cards. Let’s create a user story that captures this requirement, and rank it on the backlog:

Step 1 of 5 — Build your Backlog
          Step 1: Build your Backlog (5 min)

2. Plan Your First Release

Agile planning takes place at 5 levels; we're going to focus on release and iteration planning in this tutorial.

Releases generally span one to four months in length. Sprinting Safaris has decided that they will use month-long release periods. At the end of one month, they will deliver the the first working, fully-tested increment of a new online payment and reservation system.

Let's create a release and plan what features the team should deliver during that month:

Step 2 of 5 — Plan a Release
             Step 2: Plan a Release (4 min)

3. Plan Your First Iteration

An iteration is a short (1 to 4 week) development cycle focused on delivering working, quality software. Each iteration delivers another increment of tested product functionality. The term sprint is also used by some teams to represent this timebox.

Iterative development is the essence of Agile. We produce working, fully tested software every iteration and demonstrate and confirm value with the product owner or customer. This check-in ensures that we build the right features incrementally, while working towards our larger goals.

We've already completed the first parts of planning in the CA Agile Central application. To recap:

  • We created the list of desired features that need to be built, and made a rough estimate of effort for each — this is represented by user stories in the backlog.
  • We prioritized the stories in the backlog.
  • We defined one month-long release, which will bring us closer to completing the project.
  • We specified the planned velocity (also known as resources), in story points, for the release. The planned or expected velocity total is compared against our user story estimates to determine how many user stories we can complete during iterations that make up the release.

Now, let’s create our first iteration:

Step 3 of 5 — Create an Iteration
         Step 3A: Create an Iteration (2 min)

As we start planning the contents of the first iteration, we increase the accuracy of our estimates by decomposing the scheduled user stories into tasks. A task is a small item of work that represents how the team can finish a user story. For the credit card payments story, a sample task could read, “Create credit card entry form.” Tasks should take between one hour to one development day to complete.

Let’s schedule the work in our first iteration, then “task out” the scheduled user stories:

Step 3 of 5 — Plan an Iteration
         Step 3B: Plan an Iteration (3 min)

4. Track Progress During Your Iteration

Each team provides daily updates as they begin work and complete tasks. This often occurs during a daily standup meeting.

Team members record their progress in the CA Agile Central application. The status of the most-complete task will also "roll up" to its assigned user story.

When all tasks are finished, the user story reaches the Completed state. The product owner then reviews the story, and if it meets all criteria, marks it with the Accepted state. All scheduled stories in an iteration should be completed and accepted before the last day of the iteration.

Let’s record progress for tasks and user stories in the iteration:

Step 4 of 5 — Track Progress
            Step 4: Track Progress (2 min)

5. Hold an Iteration Retrospective and View Reports

At the end of an iteration, your team will demonstrate accepted user stories to other departments and stakeholders in the organization. The team will also hold an important meeting: the iteration retrospective. The team discusses what went well in the iteration, what didn’t go well, and assigns action items to correct any problems.

This meeting allows your team to determine if they overestimated or underestimated the number of story points that can be completed each iteration. A retrospective should also be conducted at the end of each release.

CA Agile Central provides reports and charts to assist your team with determining estimation success and team velocity. The most helpful indication of team progress is the Iteration Burndown chart.

Let’s view two sample burndown charts:

Step 5 of 5 — View Reports
              Step 5: View Reports (3 min)


Our introduction of CA Agile Central is complete. You have learned how to:

  • Create a user story and manage your backlog
  • Plan a release
  • Plan an iteration
  • Track progress during an iteration
  • View iteration status with a burndown chart

CA Agile Central offers many more features that can assist your team with time tracking, high-level portfolio planning, customer feature requests, and quality management.

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