Advice and answers from the ScrumDo Team

There are three major considerations that should be taken into account when planning work:  

  • Size - the scope or size of specific work to be undertaken 
  • Sequencing - will some aspects of the larger scope of work have to be completed first before other aspects can be undertaken? 
  • Coordination - must we depend on others to undertake some aspect of the work we are planning in order to complete and deliver it?

Lean-Agile frameworks share many fundamental approaches to breaking down work. Most of these emphasize breaking work down into as small an effort as possible as the primary mechanism for both easing the planning process and reducing or eliminating uncertainties that threaten the reliability of our delivery forecasts.  ScrumDo provides a number of different features to support these mechanics (and outcomes). We’d be remiss, however, if we didn’t remind folks it still takes education, experience,and practice to master these Lean-Agile approaches. No tool or platform can alter that reality! (which, by the way, is why we will continuously expand virtual coaching capabilities within ScrumDo).  

Let’s take a closer look at the three major considerations and the different options ScrumDo provides for addressing them in ways that make the most sense for your context.

Size of Work

Generally speaking, the platform has a bias to supporting a continuous work breakdown process.  How a continuous work breakdown process plays itself out for any given team or organization largely depends on the context of the workspace in which the work resides.

Simple environments

A standard plan subscriber consisting of a single delivery team represents a “simple” environment -- meaning an independent workspace that only has its own backlog of work items to figure out and manage. Consequently, the primary planning interface for these workspaces is the “Local Planning” tool (which users access by clicking on the Local Planning icon from their visual board):

Once you arrive at the local planning interface, the left side of the screen defaults to displaying the work items in your existing backlog (which will either consist of single-layered work items or multi-layered work items called collections). The image below shows how the interface will appear for a completely new workspace or iteration (i.e. - no work items have yet been created). 

There are an infinite number of ways a delivery team (or its manager) can employ to define and break down work. If your team is employing a Lean-Agile framework like Scrum, then this planning process is undertaken in multiple dimensions. Your Product Owner adds work items to the backlog. The Product Owner, Scrum Master and all or some of the team members will regularly meet to refine that backlog (where some of this work breakdown might occur), and the team may ultimately refine further through the Sprint Planning event.  Here’s an example of a how that might come to look for a single capability:

More complex environments

But what if your team is one of many teams that are contributing to work that makes up a larger program or portfolio of projects?  There’s really an “upstream” body of work that gets defined and broken down to one level which, the components of which become work items for different teams.

The same principles and concepts apply when it comes to breaking work down into a manageable size, but the context of what represents a manageable size is different the further “upstream” you go.  And because it’s now necessary to have some way of coordinating and choreographing work across many teams, it’s important to understand and manage the interrelationship of work items whose component pieces of work may be spread out among many players.

Enter the multi-level planning features within ScrumDo Enterprise, and a view into a multi-tiered environment that now exposes portfolio and downstream planning capabilities:

These two separate interfaces expose features that make it easy to break down, plan and schedule work as warranted.  As with local planning, the platform doesn’t impose any limitations or prescriptions on how this should be accomplished.

If your organization is employing a scaling framework like SAFe, you will define specific events or expectations about how planning and work breakdown should be undertaken.  ScrumDo supports any approach, and provides a platform that will ease the overhead of tracking, visualizing and measuring progress and performance.

Sequencing and Coordination

ScrumDo helps ease the management and improve the understanding of sequencing and coordination primarily through the Dependencies interface. While we strive to avoid dependencies on others in order to complete work, it’s pragmatically unavoidable in larger and more complex enterprises.  Our platform not only makes it easy for users to identify and establish those dependencies, but simply exposes the complex inter-relationships they possess so everyone in the organization can gain a clearer understanding of the impact given work items have on overall delivery.  This is a holistic view of delivery few platforms provide:


To learn more about these particular features, or how to best leverage them in your environment, visit our help center or connect with a virtual coach through ScrumDo.

Did this answer your question?