Balance release and sprint workloads

When planning a release or a sprint/development period, effective planning requires you to assign the correct amount of work for the capacity in these periods.

To help you determine and assign work accordingly, each team is assigned a sprint velocity, which determines the overall release capacity. In parallel with this, each story (user story, quality story, and defect) is estimated in story points. When you complete these estimations, you can better create optimal work plans for a release and sprint.

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Velocity vs. capacity

When planning releases and sprints, you can address different measures of workload for your teams:


Velocity is the expected amount of work to be completed in a specified period (usually a sprint). This velocity is measured in total story points.

Velocity is an over-time calculation. This means that you calculate the velocity for your team by looking at performance and completion over time. If a team increases the amount of work being done, then the velocity increases. Likewise, if the amount of work being done decreases the velocity goes down.

In ALM Octane velocity provides the default for a team's workload. Each team is assigned a velocity (which can be adjusted as needed), and this serves as the starting point for all planning.


Capacity is the amount of available time for work to be completed in a specified time period (usually a sprint). Capacity for a team is measured in story points. Capacity for an individual team member is measured in hours.

Capacity is a calculation based on a short time period. This means that you examine, for example, a sprint, and see the available time for a team, and from this calculate the capacity. However, this capacity calculation is only for the sprint in question. Capacity is a dynamic measure, changing constantly as manpower and time available changes.

In ALM Octane, capacity is adjustable per release and per sprint. This enables you to better plan the releases and sprints for the actual available resources and time.

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Set the default sprint velocity

Before starting planning, you should estimate what you think your team can complete in a sprint (based on past completion performance). This default velocity is used as the basis for release and sprint capacity calculations.

For details on setting the default velocity, see Adjust a team's capacity per sprint.

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Set sprint velocities

For each sprint, you can edit the individual sprint velocity. This enables you to accurately calculate the actual available resources in order to assign work accordingly.

If your team has variable work rates during a specific release or sprint, you can edit the expected capacity for these periods instead of using the default velocity capacity specified in the Teams tab of the Settings area.

  1. Do one of the following:

    In the Backlog module

    In the release buckets, with the bucket set to show a release and sprint, hover over a team line in the grid and click the Edit button:

    In the Team Backlog module

    In the Team buckets area, with a release and sprint selected in the filter, click the Edit button above the buckets:

  2. In the Team Capacity dialog, update any the following:

    • In which sprints the team is available.

    • The expected velocities for all sprints in the current release.

  3. Click OK to save the changes and update the data in the Backlog.

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Plan release and sprint backlogs

Assign stories to the release and sprint backlogs to fill available capacity. ALM Octane graphically displays the amount of free space in a backlog (in the planning buckets) and warns if the backlog exceeds the available capacity.

If a backlog has exceeded its capacity, use one of the following to balance the workload:

  • Unassign stories from a release or sprint

  • Break large user stories into parts, and leave only a part in the current backlog

  • If feasible, increase the team velocity

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