Image Courtesy: agile42

Timelines are crucial in order to understand when the product will  be completed. This helps management and teams understand the Go-to market date and plan the release of the product accordingly.

Every project manager faces the challenge of understanding the health of the project, thus giving the correct estimated launch dates to stakeholders. Most tentative estimations are done at the initial phase of the project while the development team has only a high-level understanding of the task at hand.  Moving forward the requirements are discussed in further detail and feedback from stakeholders will impact the scope and timeline of the project.

In this article we propose to visualize and manage the scope using the burn-up charts which is based on the estimations done in the story points.

Doing estimations at high level in story points allows to have a release plan and give visibility to stakeholders in a project. This is almost impossible and very costly to do and maintain if you do it in hours and/or waterfall methodology.

This first estimation can be done by part of a team or a complete team. As requirements are refined we will be in better condition to improve the estimation process. In the refinement meetings the user stories considered will be re-estimated and the burn-up chart will be updated accordingly.

Release burn-up charts show the representation of the story points which have been planned and completed during each sprint of the release plan in the simplest form.

How to visualize the scope management?

As you can see in the chart below once the estimated backlog has been released then it can be represented in the burn-up with a scope line.

During each sprint planning an actual scope snapshot will be taken.  This will allow to visualize how details are changing based on new user stories being added, removed or re-estimated during the sprint planning sessions.

Splitting user stories can also produce changes in the scope since the sum of the sub user stories are not always equal to the original estimation.

By checking the scope line (black in this chart) on the burn-up chart, stakeholders  can easily visualized any change in the scope. For example in this chart you can see that the scope changed from sprint 4 to sprint 5 from 735 story points to 816 story points.

How to understand scope changes?

To understand in detail how the  scope changes and give visibility to the stakeholders, it is  recommended to do a comparative table in order  that the  last sprint with the actual sprint can be compared. To explain the difference in the estimation we suggest to categorize the user stories using the following types: added, removed, splitted and re-estimate. See example below.

In addition, it is  suggested to have a summary table that show this concepts.

Having a clear visualization of the scope allows the stakeholder  to understand the health of the  project, take actions to increase team’s velocity or to make  changes in the scope. Thus, the whole team begins  to see the same elephant, understand how changes impact cost and timelines .

We hope this explanation  will be of help.  Feel free to contact us in case you need further assistance.

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