Tutorial: Learn CA Agile Central in 5 Easy Steps

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

  • Create a backlog of user stories
  • 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, and cross- functional teams who work with the business daily to evolve requirements and to iteratively and incrementally deliver solutions. Scrum, XP, and Lean Software Development are all well-known Agile frameworks.

Sprinting Safaris, Inc. Roars

Sprinting Safaris is a thriving adventure travel company, but their current reservation system is manual and out of date.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

 

Hint:
  • A product owner is the person on the team who defines the value, holds the vision, and identifies the acceptance criteria for the product. The product owner owns and manages the product backlog and seeks guidance from architects, testers and developers to appropriately size backlog items, and to rank these items on behalf of the customer .

 

1. Create Your Backlog of User Stories

A new online payment and reservation system contains several new features. The Safaris team needs to create a list of all the features and requirements for the new system, so they know 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:

Hints:
  • The product backlog is the list of all user stories the team will do for the product.
  • A user story describes what the system should do, in a way that emphasizes value to a user or customer. It is usually written in one or two sentences of everyday language.
  • A best practice for user stories is to write them from the point of view of the user. This template is often used: As who, I want what, so that why.
  • Story points are a unit of measure for expressing the overall size of a user story. Story points are relative. A story that is assigned four points should require twice as much effort as a story that is assigned two points.

2. Create 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.

Now, let’s create the first iteration to schedule work within:

Hints:
  • Planned Velocity represents the number of story points your team can complete within an iteration.
  • The making and meeting of commitments is a critical success factor in Agile development. Agile teams do not commit to more work than they can get accepted within an iteration.

3. Plan Your First Iteration

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.

Let’s schedule the work in our backlog that we need to complete in our first iteration, and “task out” the scheduled user stories:

Hints:
  • The general steps for iteration planning are:
    1. Identify a goal or theme for the iteration.
    2. Select user stories to be developed.
    3. Split the 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.

4. Track Progress During Your Iteration

During the iteration, your development team will provide updates on task progress as they begin work and complete activities. This is often done in a daily standup meeting.

Progress should be recorded by the team 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:

Hints:
  • CA Agile Central's State icons:
    • D = Defined
    • P = In-Progress
    • C = Completed
    • A = Accepted
  • A standup meeting, also called a Daily Scrum, is a 15-minute status meeting. Members actually stand up as each person answers three questions:
    1. What did I do yesterday?
    2. What do I plan to do today?
    3. What is getting in my way?

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.

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

Let’s view two different burndown charts that may have resulted from Sprinting Safaris iterations:

Hints:
  • A burndown chart visually indicates the amount of task work left to do and the number of accepted story points for the iteration.
  • Burndown charts may fluctuate early on, but as the team matures, they will provide a good indication of the team's velocity.

Review

Our introductory tour of CA Agile Central is complete. You now know how to:

  • Create a user story
  • Plan an iteration
  • Track progress during an iteration
  • View iteration status with a burndown chart

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

Need help while using CA Agile Central? Click the green question mark icons found in the upper-right corner of CA Agile Central pages to learn more about the features provided.

Feedback

Need more help? The CA Agile Central Community is your one-stop shop for self-service and support. To submit feedback or cases to CA Agile Central Support, find answers, and collaborate with others, please join us in the CA Agile Central Community.