Please find highlights from Satya Narayan Dash’s webinar – Practical Scrum Using MS Project Agile – being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations, or there may be additions to expand on concepts. You may watch the on-demand recording of this webinar at your convenience.
In the previous article, you learned about Product Backlog, Sprint Planning, and Increments.
Let’s dive into the practical side of things and see how to apply these concepts using Microsoft Project. I’ll walk you through the steps so that you can follow along and apply them to your own projects.
We will be going through a series of practical exercises to enhance our understanding of project management. If you are a member, you will have free access to these practicals and can download them for future reference.
To begin, we will be building upon the previous exercise we completed in our last session. Specifically, we will be creating a product backlog. I will be copying our last file, “first Scrum project with resources,” and moving it to part two of the webinar. This file will be renamed as “product backlog” and will serve as our starting point.
In our previous exercise, we had a dedicated team consisting of developers, a product owner, and a Scrum master. It is important to note that all team members are 100% dedicated, meaning there is no partial allocation to other projects. This is a crucial aspect of Scrum methodology, as a cross-functional team that is fully dedicated can lead to self-organization. A part-time team member with minimal skills cannot contribute effectively to any team, especially in Scrum.
At this point, we have no tasks available in the Gantt chart view, only our dedicated team members. To create our product backlog, we will navigate to the Sprint tools and select the Sprint staff views group. From there, we will select the planning option and the Sprint planning board. This board will serve as our foundation for creating a product backlog.
Creating a Product Backlog from a Sprint Planning Board
Now, we will proceed to build our product backlog with the help of the Sprint planning board. This board is a powerful tool that allows us to easily add and manage backlog items. To get started, simply click on “new tasks” to add a new item to the backlog.
For instance, let us assume that we are building a stock trading system as a part of our Scrum team. We can add various backlog items related to this system, such as buying a stock, selling a stock, transferring a stock, and finding the stock price.
To add a new backlog item, simply enter the name of the item, such as “log in to the online trading system,” and click on the plus sign to add it to the backlog. You can continue adding new items to the backlog by clicking on the plus sign and entering the name of the new item.
For example, we can add “create a new user,” “edit an existing user,” “generate reports,” and so on. The backlog items can be as simple or complex as needed to effectively manage the project.
By using the Sprint planning board and adding backlog items to it, we can effectively prioritize and manage our project tasks in alignment with Scrum methodology. The board provides a clear and concise overview of the project, making it easy to manage and monitor progress.
Deleting a Task in Microsoft Project Backlog
It is important to note that once you have created your product backlog in Microsoft Project using the Sprint Planning Board view, you may need to delete items from it if they are no longer relevant or necessary for the project.
To delete a single item from your product backlog, simply select the item you wish to delete, right-click on it, and choose the “Delete” option. This will remove the item from your backlog.
If you need to delete multiple items from your backlog, you cannot do so directly from the Sprint Planning Board view. Instead, you will need to navigate to the Planning command and select the Sprint Planning Sheet. From there, you can select the items that you wish to delete by clicking on their corresponding row numbers. Once you have selected all of the items you wish to delete, right-click and choose the “Delete Task” option. This will remove all of the selected items from your backlog at once.
It is important to note that deleting items from your product backlog should be done with caution and consideration, as it can have an impact on the overall scope and timeline of your project. Make sure to communicate any changes to the backlog with your team and stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Why You Need a Clear and Organized Product Backlog
As a project manager, having a clear and organized product backlog is essential in ensuring project success. In this article, we will be discussing how to create a Sprint backlog in Microsoft Project.
Firstly, it is important to ensure that the product backlog is reflected accurately in the sheet view. This can be achieved by navigating to the planning and screen planning sheet. The ordering of items in the board view should be exactly the same in the screen planning sheet view. This includes items such as logging in, creating, editing, buying/selling stocks, transferring stocks, and generating reports. Although the IDs may differ, the order of items should remain consistent.
Next, it is important to prioritize the detailed requirements within the product backlog. The product backlog should be DEEP, meaning it is Detailed, Estimated, Emerging, and Prioritized. To prioritize, simply drag and drop items in the screen planning sheet view. This exact same order will be reflected in the Sprint planning sheet view.
In terms of estimating, we can do so in the task Gantt chart within the screen planning sheet.
However, this view is considered legacy and less commonly used. Instead, we can estimate the time it will take to complete each item in the product backlog directly in the screen planning sheet view. For example, logging into the online trading system may take four days, while editing an existing user may take five days.
It is also important to assign work and resources to each task and specify board status, task summary name, and deadlines. The product backlog can also be divided into Sprints, with certain items planned for Sprint one, others for Sprint two, and so on.
In terms of organizing the project, we can rename the project headline as “Product Backlog” in the format tab, under show and hide group. This allows for a clearer understanding of the project’s priorities and objectives.
Formatting your Product Backlog
In this section, we will discuss how to format your sprint backlog in Microsoft Project. During this process, we will also touch on how to present your backlog in a report and the option to use user stories.
To begin, these are the items that we are going to do as part of the Sprint. To move an item to the next Sprint, go to the Sprint planning board, and simply drag the item to the next Sprint.
For example, we are going to log into the online trading system and edit an existing user in Sprint one, buy a stock, sell a stock, transfer a stock, and spend free. This process occurs during backlog refinement, and the Sprint planning meeting has not started yet.
To properly sort the Sprints in MS Project, go to the View tab, Data group, Sort, and Sort by ID. This functionality allows you to sort the Sprints in the proper order.
If you need to present the Sprint backlog in a report, use the built-in grouping mechanism. Go to the View tab, Data group, and choose the Sprint grouping option. This feature allows you to group the Sprints into specific categories, such as Sprint one or Sprint two. You can generate an HTML report or PDF and send it across.
Regarding user stories, there is no hard and fast rule that you have to do it in user story format. However, if you want to use user stories, you can change the writing structure of the item. For example, instead of saying “log into the online trading system,” you can say “as a user, I want to log into the online trading system so that I can access the system.” The user story has a format of who the user is, what the user wants to do, and the benefit of doing it.
If you have a big user story, break it down into smaller tasks. For example, under the feature “login to the online trading system,” you can have three sub-tasks: login through Facebook, login through Microsoft, and login through a payment wallet.
Adding Sprint Information to Gantt Chart View in MS Project
We can now go back to the Gantt Chart view. While all the items have been estimated, it is not immediately clear which items belong to which Sprint. To address this, we can add a new column called “Sprint”. Simply select the task name, right-click and select “insert column” and choose “Sprint”. This way, it is clear that the first three items belong to Sprint one, the next two to Sprint two, and the last one to Sprint three.
Setting the Project Start Date
Next, we need to set the project start date, as currently, it has taken today’s date or some other random date. To do this, navigate to the project tab and click on ‘project information’. Here, we can specify the project start date, for example, let’s say the 30th of January. Since today is the 8th of February, we will set it to start on 30th of January and click ‘okay’. Now, the project date will be updated accordingly.
It’s also important to ensure that the sprints are properly planned and their dates are accurate. This can be done by going to the “Sprints” section under “Sprint tools”, or by selecting “Sprint” under the “Properties” tab. In this example, the sprints are starting on January 30th and each Sprint lasts for two weeks. By changing the start date for Sprint one, the other Sprints will automatically adjust accordingly.
By following these steps, the project’s Sprints are now properly planned and the project date is set to the correct date.