Tracker and Kanban

If your software delivery team uses Kanban to manage and visualize your workflow, you can still take advantage of Tracker’s features. Tracker is a “pull” scheduling system, like Kanban (and indeed Scrum) — it pulls in stories to fill the team’s WIP limit, based on velocity.

In Kanban, using point estimates for stories and planning work in iterations is optional, and Tracker allows you this flexibility. If you don’t want iterations, estimate all feature-type stories as 0 and Tracker will keep its default velocity setting. Tracker will not calculate any iterations in the project Backlog, though they will appear in the Done panel, grouping stories based on their acceptance date.

If you do want iterations in your project Backlog, you can use the same non-zero point estimate value for all stories. You can create your own custom point scale with a single point value if desired. Tracker will pull stories automatically into your Current iteration based on your project’s velocity.

You can choose to base WIP on number of stories rather than point estimates. To manually control which stories are pulled into the Current iteration, you can turn off automatic planning for Current. You can drag (pull) stories into Current before they’re started, to indicate how many more stories may be started before reaching your team’s WIP limit. Starting a Backlog story also moves it into the Current iteration.

Kanban teams typically measure cycle time to help optimize their process, making the lead time to deliver stories as short and predictable as possible. Tracker’s cycle time report helps you track this important metric.

Teams often use columns on their Kanban board that differ from Tracker’s panels and story states. For example, they may have a “To Do” or “Next few,” “Discuss,” “Develop,” “Exploratory test,” and so on. If you want a more customized Kanban view of your Tracker project, you have several options. You can tag stories with appropriate labels. One way to do that is to create an epic for each column heading you want, and moving stories into the appropriate epic for their current status. Note that you can arrange Tracker’s panels in any order, so if you prefer having stories move left-to-right across your board, you can drag the panels accordingly. Here’s an example of a Kanban board in Tracker:

An example Kanban board

There are also several third-party Kanban-oriented integrations for Tracker, such as Insight, My Work and Zapier. You can also create your own view of your Tracker projects using Tracker’s API.

Kanban can be combined with other agile processes such as Scrum. WIP limits, the concept of “pulling” work, and measuring cycle time to help improve your process are compatible and complementary with the Scrum project management framework. Tracker supports a continuum of agile approaches, so you can experiment and see what works best for your team.

We would also be happy to provide help and additional suggestions about how you might use Tracker for your specific needs. Just email us at Tracker Support!

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