To manage Epics, you can click on the Epics option on the side menu on the left. It opens up and shows three options as shown in the adjacent figure:
- Kanban View.
- Tree View.
- Current Epics.
Screenshot 1: Epics Menu
Each view has its own utility and value which is going to be explained in the sections below.
The Current Epics option is collapsible. Clicking on the arrow next to this option will collapse or expand the current Epics in the selected Portfolio.
Clicking on any of the Epic will take you to the Epic Details View, which is explained in a relevant section below.
The Kanban View
A Kanban view is a tool for visualizing workflow and is a key component of the Kanban method.
Visualizing your workflow and tasks on a Kanban board allows you to gain a better understanding of your processes and an overview of your workload.
With this new level of transparency, you’ll be able to quickly identify problematic work stages, and by improving them, your team will be able to work more efficiently in no time.
Prakya’s Kanban Lanes
An Epic can have six different states in Prakya. Prakya’s Epic Kanban View presents these six states as lanes of a Kanban Board , as shown in Screenshot 2 below.
Screenshot 2: Epics Kanban View
As you can see, the Kanban View is organized in the form of lanes, each of which represents the state of an Epic. Prakya supports six states namely:
- Idea Funnel.
- Implementation (with two sub-states).
These states represent the journey of the Epic. Each state can also be thought of as a project phase gate. Each of these lanes and their use will be described in the sections that follow.
Lane Full Screen Mode
Usually, you keep the entire set of lanes visible while working in the Kanban View. However, you can also work with each lane exclusively by expanding the lane into a full screen.
To do this, hover over the lane title and you will see an option to expand the lane into full screen towards the right of the name as shown in the screenshot 3 below. Screenshot 4 shows the expanded lane view.
Clicking on the same button placed towards the top right corner in the expanded lane view, will revert you to the Kanban View.
Screenshot 3: Epic Lane Expand Option
Screenshot 4: Expanded Lane view
To facilitate a quick snapshot view of the maturity level of a given project, Prakya displays the number of Epics in the Kanban Lan next to the name, as shown in Screenshot 2 above.
For instance, If the Idea Funnel and the Reviewing lanes have relatively more number of Epics than the rest of the lanes, we can infer that the Program/Portfolio is relatively young. More Epics in the MVP or Persevere stage indicates that the Portfolio has matured and will perhaps be closed sooner than later.
Adding and Managing a Portfolio Team
One of the key aspects of Prakya is creating visibility across all the stakeholders. Teams that are executing have complete visibility of the Epics. However, the Portfolio team which may consist of stakeholders such as business leaders, solution architects, product managers, etc., may want oversight.
To facilitate this Prakya enables you to assign a Portfolio team to oversee the Epic. To add a Portfolio team for the Epic, click on the team icon on the top right corner of the Kanban View (Refer to Screenshot 2). This will open a dialogue as shown in Screenshot 3 below.
Screenshot 5: Portfolio Team Management Dialogue
If any team members are already added from the Portfolio team, you can see them here. To add a team member, Click on the Add button in the top right corner and follow the steps below.
- Start typing the name of the team member, and Prakya will show you a list based on the text you have entered. Select the right team member.
- Other details such as Persona and Team are automatically selected from the database and displayed.
- Once you are done with all the details click on the Save button to save. To Cancel any changes, click on the Cancel button.
Now, the team can see the progress of the Epics in the Portfolio and participate actively in the Program management process.
Kanban Lane Description and Functionality
The Idea Funnel
This is a place where we store our project ideas when we are still defining our Epic and are not sure whether this Epic would actually be a part of our agile work. This is a pretty useful lane to park all our ideas which occur to us as a result of:
- Discussion with customers.
- Team’s ideas in retrospectives and meetings.
- Any change requests made by customers.
The idea funnel not only parks ideas, but also preserves the context of the idea as a part of a given Portfolio. The Ideas stored in the idea funnel can be migrated into an Epic anytime.
Creating an Idea
Hovering over the Idea Funnel lane will display a plus icon on the top as shown in Screenshot 6 below.
Screenshot 6: Add Ideas to Idea Funnel
Clicking on this button will take you to the Add New Idea Dialogue as shown in the screenshot 7 below.
Screenshot 7: Add New Idea Dialogue
To add an Idea to the Idea Funnel, follow these steps:
- Give a title to the idea. Let the title be reflective of the features that you want to build.
- Add a description of the idea to help your team understand it better. Please note that the description section has a rich text edit feature allowing you to create a cool idea document which will be seen by those who see this Idea in the Idea Funnel. You can capture a customer’s requirement or a change request here so that the team can see what you want done.
- Assign the idea to a team member. If you are creating the idea, then by default the system will show you as the owner of the idea. But, in case you want someone else working on the idea, like a product manager or a solution architect, you can assign it to them.
- Once you are done with all this, click on the save button to save the Idea to the funnel. Clicking on cancel will discard all changes done and won’t save the idea.
Modifying an Idea
Clicking on the idea will take you to the screen as shown in Screenshot 8. This screen offers multiple options. You can not only modify the details of the idea here, but you also can add documents using the documents tab and audit the changes to the idea using the footprints section.
Screenshot 8: Modify Idea Screen
Migrating the Idea to an Epic
Since Prakya sees the Idea Funnel as a pre-epic phase, you can migrate the Idea into an Epic or an Enabler using the drop down menu located on the top right corner of this dialog (refer to Screenshot 8).
As soon as you select the Migrate to Epic/Enabler, the Idea is converted into an Epic and placed in the Reviewing Lane.
Deleting an Idea
When you want to delete an Idea, simply hover over the Idea card. This will show a red colored delete icon on the top left corner of the card, as shown in Screenshot 9 below. Click on this icon to delete an idea from the funnel.
Screenshot 9: Delete an Idea
Best Practice: Analyzing the idea funnel
Analyzing the idea funnel from time to time can give us useful insights. As said earlier, Ideas in the Idea funnel originate either from the customer discussions or from team discussions. Also, each idea will have its own documents. The footprints of each idea are also available to see how the idea has evolved over time.
When a Portfolio/Program is new, there will be a lot of ideas. As the Portfolio/Program matures the idea funnel can get shorter and shorter. When we want to end the Portfolio/Program we may not have any ideas left to implement.
For example, a long idea funnel may indicate that there is too much time being spent on discussing ideas than taking the ideas forward. The team may decide not to generate anymore new ideas and focus on executing the ideas.
A long idea funnel is a good indicator during the brainstorming sessions. But once the Epic is taken up for execution, the idea funnel should ideally shorten.
A long idea funnel in the middle of execution of the Portfolio indicates that either ideas that are brainstormed are not used up or new ideas are being added. If new ideas are being added, it means that the team is exploring new possibilities.
It would make sense to see if these ideas should be taken up during this phase of execution or considered during the persevere phase of implementation. If the team is brainstorming because of customer requests, requirements can be verified to check for scope creep.
A long idea funnel towards the end of execution of the Portfolio indicates an expanded scope than what was discussed at the beginning of the Portfolio. Usually, this means that requirements have to be verified and if there is a scope expansion the impact on cost, time and deliverables must be discussed with the customer.
When you are sure that an idea is ripe and the team can begin work on it, you can migrate the idea into an Epic (Refer to Screenshot 8). As soon as you migrate the idea, it will appear as an Epic in the Reviewing lane. You are now ready to add Features and User Stories to the Epic.
Adding an Epic from the Reviewing Lane
Alternatively, you can add an Epic directly to the Reviewing lane. If you hover over the lane, you will see a ‘+’ icon on top of the lane just below the lane heading as shown in screenshot 10. Clicking on this icon will bring up the Add Epic Dialogue as shown in screenshot 11.
Do the following to add an Epic to the Portfolio:
- Give a title to the Epic. Make sure it is relevant.
- Give a description of the Epic. The rich text editor allows you to create a great document.
- Search for a team member to assign the Epic to. By default, your name is added as you are adding the Epic. Key in a few letters. Prakya will bring up a list of team members, you can select the right member to assig the the Epic to.
- Click on Save to save changes and create the Epic. Clicking on cancel will discard all changes made and won’t save the Epic.
Screenshot 10: Creating an Epic from the Reviewing Lane
Screenshot 11: Add New Epic Dialogue
Quick Add an Epic
Alternatively you can quickly add an Epic by clicking on the plus icon placed to the right of the search field on the top bar. To quickly add an Epic do the following:
- Click on the Plus Icon.
- Select the New Epic Option.
- The Add New Epic Dialogue will open (Refer to Screenshot 11).
- Add relevant details as explained in the previous section.
- Click on Save to save the Epic. This will appear in the Reviewing Lane.
- Clicking on cancel will not create the Epic.
When you have finally figured out the scope of the Epic and are ready to break it down into smaller work pieces, you move it to the analyzing stage. As soon as you move it there, you can begin adding features and User Stories.
You move an Epic to the backlog stage when you are ready to create features and User Stories and assign them to the team. Once you assign the Epic to a Program, all the features you create will appear in the team backlog in the team room, ready for the team to take on.
There are two sub-stages in implementation. MVP stage is when the team is actually actively working and completing the features and User Stories in the Epic. Persevere stage is when the team has completed the work but is expecting some changes to happen in the near future.
An Epic in the done stage is completed fully and no changes are expected out of it in the near future. Once in the done stage, the Epic can be archived.
Moving Epics around the Kanban View
You can move around Epics to different lanes of the kanban view. To change the status of an Epic, Click on the Epic. This will take you to the Epic Details View.
Screenshot 12: Moving an Epic across Kanban Lane
Towards the top right corner of the screen(refer to Screenshot 12), you will find a drop down which indicates the current status of the Epic.
Click on the drop down arrow to reveal further states applicable to that Epic. Choose the desired state and click on the save button to save the changes.
Deleting an Epic
Hovering over an Epic in the Kanban View will show a red colored cross mark on the top left corner of the Epic card. Click on this and confirm deletion in the ensuing delete Epic dialogue box to delete the Epic.
Deleting an Epic has a cascading effect on the Features and User Stories that belong to the Epic. So, please be careful when deleting an Epic.
The Tree View
The tree view in Prakya allows you to see all the Epics in a given Portfolio in a hierarchical fashion. You can catch a glimpse of the Tree View in Screenshot 13. While the Kanban View is very useful from a workflow point of view, you cannot see the features and User Stories associated with an Epic in the Kanban view.
Let us say, you find a large number of Epics in the Analyzing Lane and feel that some of them maybe moved further. But before moving you want to ensure that sufficient progress is made. This is the case for you to switch to the Tree view.
Switching to the Tree view
You can switch to the Tree View in one of two ways. First, is by clicking on the Epics icon on the side bar and choosing Tree view from the menu options (Refer to Screenshot 1). Second is by clicking on the Tree view icon on the top left corner of the Kanban View (Refer to Screenshot 2).
The Tree view offers a hierarchical view of all the Features and User Stories within an Epic. The hierarchy that Prakya follows (based on SAFe Agile practices) is Portfolios >> Epics >> Features >> User Stories.
Screenshot 13: The Tree View
The biggest advantage of Prakya’s Tree view is that it shows progress of each Epic against it’s listing. Take a look at all the green bars in Screenshot 13. By looking at these you get an idea of what the progress looks like in all the Epics of your Portfolio.
You may decide to review the Epics which are making slower progress or look at almost completed Epics to see what remains to be done.
Epics that haven’t yet started are usually in the Analyzing phase. But once this phase is complete and the Epic is moved to the Backlog phase, the team can start working on the User Stories. So, if the Epic is in the backlog phase and no movement is detected, then it can be worthwhile to figure out if there are any roadblocks that need to be addressed.
Looking at Epics which are about to be completed can give you an idea of which resources are going to be released soon. This may allow you to plan in advance and improve your Portfolios efficiency.
Expanding and Collapsing an Epic/Feature
You can expand or collapse an Epic/Feature by clicking on the blue arrow to the left of the Epic/Feature name. When you expand the Epic, you will see all the Features that belong to the Epic. When you expand a Feature, you will see all the User Stories that belong to the feature.
Editing and Changing Features/User Stories
If you click on the names of the Features/User Stories the respective edit dialogues will open and you can make changes to the Epic or the User Story right from within the Tree View. Respective changes are saved and progress is updated automatically.
Additional Information for Features/User Stories
You can also see a green progress bar against each Feature which shows the Feature’s progress. Thus, you can quickly get a link between Epic progress and Feature progress with a simple click of a button.
On top of the Feature in grey text, you can see the solution which the Feature belongs to. At the same time on top of the User Story in grey text, you can see which team is handling that user story.
In addition to that, the Tree view shows additional data such as Owner, Status, Created and Updated dates for each Epic. This data is likely to facilitate quick overview of an Epic without switching to another mode to collect such data.
Sorting the Tree View
You can sort the Tree view by clicking on the column title. Except for the columns Title and Progress, the Tree View can be sorted in the ascending or the descending order of any column. Click once for ascending order and another time for descending order.
Hovering over the column name will change the arrow to an ‘I’ cursor for non sortable columns and into the hand icon for a sortable column.
Deleting an Epic from the Tree View
To delete an Epic in the tree view, navigate to the Actions column. Find the delete icon and click on it. In the ensuing Delete Epic Dialogue box confirm your delete to remove the Epic.
Please note that deleting an Epic will have a cascading effect on the related features and user stories. It is advisable to be really careful when deleting an Epic.
The Epic Details View
The Kanban and Tree views offer an overview and summary of all the Epics in a given Portfolio. The detailed view gives much more information and insight into a single Epic. You enter the detailed view to work exclusively with a single Epic. Here is a screenshot of the detailed view.
Screenshot 14: The Epic Details View
Switching to the Epic Details view
You can switch to the Epic Details View in one of the three ways.
- Click on the Epics icon on the left side bar menu to display the Epics menu options (Refer Screenshot 1). If the current epics section is not expanded, click on the arrow to the right of the menu option. For the list, click on any Epic to see the Epic Details view.
- While you are in the Kanban view, clicking on any Epic will open the Epic Details view to offer an insight into the specific Epic
- When you are in the Tree View, clicking on the Title of the Epic will open an Epic Edit dialog. To the bottom left corner you will see ‘More Details’ option. Clicking on that will lead you to the Epic Details View.
Prakya allows you to capture a ton of information on each Epic. You can recall, view and modify this information in the Epic Details view, as you continue to work on that Epic. The information is presented in a well thought out structure.
Changing the current state/phase of the Epic
You will find the current state/phase of the Epic in the top right corner of the screen, next to the information.ation tabs strip. It’s a drop down list. You can click on the drop down arrow to reveal relevant state/phase options this Epic has. You can select an option and click on the save button to save changes.
Please note that the Epic will change its lane in the Kanban view once you change the state/phase of the Epic here.
You can see various tabs on top of the screen, just below the bread crumb display (Refer to Screenshot 14). Each tab has its own breakdown of information and view as relevant to that tab. Prakya has the following tabs:
The following sections explain what each tab can hold and how that can be useful.
The Details Tab
This is the first and default tab that is visible when you first open the Epic Details view. This tab captures various layers of information which are organised in seperate sections as indicated in the left side bar menu (Refer to Screenshot14). This tab has the following sections.
- Business Outcomes.
- Leading Indicators.
- Non Functional Requirements.
Here’s a brief description of each section.
The Summary Section
The first section is the Summary of the Epic. You can edit the title and description of the Epic. The rich text editing feature allows you to capture the description in a neatly formatted document that’s available for the team’s reference.
In addition to this we can also see who created the Epic and when the Epic was submitted in the bottom left side of the screen. After making any changes, you can click on the Save button to save changes.
The Requirements Section
Here you can capture the requirements of the Epic briefly. Each requirement can have a title and a brief description. The requirements are displayed in a tabular form as seen in Screenshot 15.
Screenshot 15; Epic Details View – Requirements Section
This section gives the team an idea about customer requirements that need to be met within the scope of this Epic. Think of this as a top level overview of the requirements rather than a place to capture the detailed requirements.
To capture detailed requirements you can use the documents tab of this Epic to create documents natively or attach outside documentation links.
This section can also act as a ready reckoner for various stakeholders who are part of managing this Epic.
It is one of the best practices to review the Epic requirements whenever customers are making change requests. All requests falling within the scope of the requirements can be approved quickly. When changes needed are out of the scope of these requirements they will have time, cost and resource implications which need to be carefully considered.
It is also possible to evolve the requirements and keep adding more when the work on this Epic has just begun. If requirements keep getting added even after the Epic has made significant progress, then a review of the Epic with the team and the customer might reveal some information that can help in appropriate action.
The Business Outcomes Section
This section shows a checklist of all the business outcomes of the Portfolio and enables you to choose which business outcomes are flowing as a result of completing this Epic. This is again a ready reckoner for the team to clearly understand the value that their project is creating.
Screenshot 16: Epic Details View – Business Outcomes Section
The Leading Indicators Section
Leading indicators are metrics that tell us the Epic is headed in the right direction. Prakya doesn’t yet have a built in list of leading indicators which are measured automatically. While we build that list, here’s how you can communicate to the team what to measure, monitor and report as part of the Epic metrics.
Screenshot 17: Epic Details View – Leading Indicators Section
Non Functional Requirements
Prakya allows you to specify some constraints on the EPIC in the from of Non Functional Requirements or NFRs. While they are not necessary for a system to be functional, they may not serve the ultimate purpose if these are not present.
Screenshot 18: Epic Details View – Non Functional Requirements Section
For example, data security is a non-functional requirement. Even though a product may perform well functionally, if your data is not secure, then it poses a risk to the business operations you are conducting through the product. Thus, you may not choose to use the product at all.
Prakya displays a predefined set of Non Functional Requirements. You can check the boxes next to each NFR.
The Team Tab
The Team Tab defines the team that is working on the Epic. To specify the team members working on this Epic, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the Team tab. You will find a list of already existing teams on the left hand side.
- Click on which teams will be working on the Epic. The list of members in each team selected is displayed on the right side of the screen.
- Select a check box next to the team member to include them in the team.
- Once you finish selecting all the people who would be working on the Epic, click on the Save button to save changes. Clicking on the cancel button will discard all the changes made.
Screenshot 19: Epic Details View – Team Tab
The teams that are assigned to the Epic can now see the Features and Epics that are assigned to them in the team room and begin working on them.
The Features Tab
The features tab lists all the Features and User Stories within the Epic just like in the Tree view form. When you navigate to this tab, you will find a list of all Features in this Epic as shown in Screenshot 20.
The blue arrow to the left of the Feature ID column will allow you to expand/collapse the Feature. Expanding the Feature will show you the list of all the User Stories to be delivered within that Feature.
Screenshot 20: Epic Details View – The Features Tab
Clicking on a Feature/User Story will bring up the edi dialogue where you can edit the details of the Feature/User Story.
Adding a Feature to the Epic
Clicking on Add Feature button (Refer to Screenshot 20) will bring up the add/edit feature dialogue, using which you can add the details of the feature. Adding Features and User Stories is covered in detail in the respective help sections.
Adding More Details to the Feature
As you expand the Feature, you can also see some menu options right above the user story list (Refer to Screenshot 20). These options allow you to add User Stories, Bugs, and Comments to the Features right from this screen.
Viewing and Adding documents to the Feature
You can view the documents that have been attached to this feature by clicking on the documents option (refer to Screenshot 20). To add more documents to the feature, just click on the feature to bring up the Feature edit dialogue, navigate to the documents section towards the bottom of the dialogue and use it to add more documentation.
The documents that you add to the Features and User Stories will automatically be available in the document vault accessible through the documents tab.
When adding a feature it would help to refer to the requirements section of the details tab to know if the feature falls within the scope of the Epic.
The beauty is that you don’t have to switch context, search for your requirements documentation and then bring them up for discussion. All the data you need, which is relevant to the Epic’s management is accessible from within this view.
Moving Features between Epics
Prakya allows you to move Features between Epics. Hovering over a Feature brings up a menu positioned towards the right side of the screen (Refer to Screenshot 20). Clicking on the first option brings up a move Epic dialogue as shown in Screenshot 21
Screenshot 21: Moving Features to different Epics
Click on any Epic and click on the Move button to move the Feature to that Epic. Clicking on the cancel button will keep the Feature in the current Epic.
The Workflow Tab
Using the workflow tab you can create an approver who needs to approve the actions taken by the team before the Epic can move through a phase gate into a different state. This is a step to locate the ultimate accountability of the Epic within the Portfolio.
To see whose approvals are needed, navigate to the workflow tab. You will see a list of approvers as shown in Screenshot 22.
Screenshot 22: Epic Details View – Workflow Tab
Adding an approver to the workflow
To add an approver, click on the add approver tab. This will bring up the Add Approver dialogue(Refer to Screenshot 23). Follow these steps to add an Approver:
Screenshot 23: Add New Approver Dialogue
- Click on the Add Approver button to the top right corner of the screen (Refer to Screenshot 22). This will bring up the Add New Approver Dialogue as shown in Screenshot 23.
- Begin entering the name of the Approver, once you enter a few letters of the name, Prakya will display a list of team members. Select one from the list.
- Provide a summary. This summary can contain a description of the relevant role this approver might play.
- Add any comments you might have. The rich text dialogue allows you to create a neat and readable document for the reference of the team.
- If the Approver is critical for a go/no-go decision, then check the Count this vote towards go/no-go option.
- Add a date by which the decision is needed.
- Click on the save button to save changes. Clicking the cancel button will discard all the changes done and will not add the Approver.
The Documents Tab
All the documents that are within the context of this Epic are accessible to you through the Documents Tab. The documents tab aggregates all the documents that are added at the Epic level, the Feature Level and the User Story level and presents it in a beautifully structured view as shown in Screenshot 24.
Screenshot 24: Epic Details View – The Documents Tab
You can add documents to different entities in Prakya. From the Epic point of view, you can add a document at the Epic level, at the Feature level or at the User Story level.
When you navigate to the Documents tab you will find a neat hierarchical arrangement of the Features and User Stories represented as folders. You can expand and contract the Epic to reveal Features and Features can be expanded to reveal user stories.
The number of documents under each layer is indicated as a sub text right below the folder (Refer to Screenshot 24).
Working with Documents
You can click and select an Epic/Feature/User Story to reveal all the documents from the layers below in a table format on the right side. Each document title, file type, who created it, uploaded date, last modified date and a delete option to delete the document is displayed.
Clicking on any document will open the document. Native documents are opened from within Prakya. Attachments can be opened with applications on your computer and weblinks are opened in a browser. So, you can store a variety of documents and make them accessible to the team for reference at any time.
This feature of Prakya saves a lot of time for your teams. They don’t have to spend additional time and effort to manage documents, search for them in a huge repository. The entire set of documents a team needs are available from within the context of the Epic.
The Footprints Tab
Prakya captures a lot of data about the journey of an Epic. This is exposed through the footprints section. When you navigate to this section, you will find the latest footprints (past two weeks) listed date wise for your reference (Refer to Screenshot 25).
Screenshot 25: Epic Details View – The Footprints Tab
You can access the data between any two dates using the Filter by date option and selecting the desired date range. Each line represents a change to the Epic or Features and User Stores within the Epic. All the changes on a given day are consolidated under the date.
As a standard, Stand up meetings should actually be about discussing how to solve problems. However, in practice, most stand up meetings become status update sessions with very little time left to discuss problems and solutions.
The footprints section of the Epic is an excellent way of getting to know what is going on in the Epic without actually asking someone from the team to explain what is going on. This way you are clear about how the Epic is progressing. This can help avoiding long status update emails or status updates during stand up meetings.
This helps the team to focus on solving problems and delivering better quality products in shorter time frames.
The Comments Tab
There are multiple ways that teams can communicate in Prakys. The comments tab on Epics is something that can be used to start an ongoing conversation about the Epic. The comments tab can be used to assign work, appreciate the work done by someone, share additional information and even to share some friendly banter.
Screenshot 26: Epic Details View – The Comments Tab