Build the product backlog

The Backlog module contains all the elements necessary for you to follow your application development lifecycle and your application's releases.

As you work in the Backlog, it is recommended to use the following hierarchy:

  • Define epics under the backlog root.

  • Define features under epics.

  • Define stories under features. You can also define user stories and defects directly under the backlog root.

    Select an image to navigate directly to the topic about this phase and learn more.

Create the Backlog tree

  1. Prerequisites: Have your workspace admin Set up a release.

  2. Plan: Take an overall look at:

    • How you currently manage your release backlog. You will create backlog tree nodes in ALM Octane based on this information.

      Example:  

      UI-based Function-based
      • Toolbars

      • Shortcuts

      • Dialog boxes for creating items

      • Message pop-ups

      • Operations on grids

      • Logging in/out

      • Authentication

      • Navigation

      • Shopping cart management

      • Payment

    • The terminology used at your site. For example, ALM Octane uses the terms epics, features, and user stories to organize the items in the backlog.

    • The testing you perform on a release-by-release basis (usability, sanity, or functional).

    Use this information to design your backlog tree.

  3. Create epics.

    1. Select the Epics, Features, or Stories tab.

    2. Click + to create a backlog item.

    3. In the Type dropdown, select Epic.

    4. Define the epic type and estimated size, or leave this for the planning stage.

      Your epic is now added as part of the Backlog tree.

  4. Create features.

    1. Make sure at least one epic exists.

      If you select an epic in the tree, it is used by default as the Epic for the feature you create.

    2. Click + to create a backlog item.

    3. In the Type dropdown, select Feature.

    4. Select the Epic for the feature.

    5. Define the feature type and estimated story points, and assign it to a release and team. You can also leave this step for the planning stage.

  5. Team members can only delete items that they have created.

Tip: After you create the initial backlog items, you can drag items reorganize (epics, features to another epics, stories to another feature) to reorganize the Backlog as needed.

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Add user stories and quality stories

  1. Open the Backlog module.

    If you select a feature in the tree, it is used by default as the Feature for the story you create.

    For user and quality stories, if you select the Backlog root of the tree, it is used by default as the Feature. The user story is then created under the root of the backlog tree and not under the Epic > Feature > User Story hierarchy.

  2. Click + to create a backlog item.

  3. In the Type dropdown, select User Story, or Quality Story, or Defect.

  4. Define the story details:

    • Select a Feature for the story.

    • Assign attributes to the story, such as the owner, and the number of story points.

    • For quality stories you can also assign a quality story type.

    • Add attachments to the user story by clicking Attach.

    • You can tag the item by clicking Add tag. Select an existing tag or enter a name for a new one. Tagging lets you filter what you see according to those items with that tag. For details on tagging, see Attributes, tags, and environments.

Team members can only delete items that they have created.

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Use autofill lists for new Backlog items

Sometimes, when creating new Backlog items, you may want the same repeated values entered for select fields. For example, maybe during a regression testing cycle, you want each of the items you create to have fields and or descriptions that indicate the item was created as a part of the regression cycle.

In this case you can create an autofill list to apply each time you create a new Backlog item.

  1. In the Backlog, in the appropriate tab, click the + button for the item to create.

  2. Enter the required values for the fields.

  3. In the upper right corner of the Add dialog, click the dropdown arrow next to the Autofill edit field:

  4. In the edit box that opens, in the Save as template field, enter a name for the template:

  5. Click Save. The autofill list is now saved and can be applied to any new entity of the same type (Defect autofill lists for new defects, User story autofill lists for new user stories, and so on).

    Note: Templates are saved on a per-user basis.

    When you create a new backlog item, you can select an autofill list from the list and the specified fields are automatically entered with the saved values.

    Tip: If you want to set the autofill list as a default, when the autofill list is added, click the Set as default button.

  6. To update the autofill list, change the necessary fields, and enter the existing name in the Save as template field. When ALM Octane prompts you to replace the existing autofill list, confirm the replacement.

  7. To delete an autofill list, in the list of templates, click the X displayed in the autofill list name (visible when the list is selected):

Rank the Backlog

Leader permissions are required.

A key factor in effective release and sprint planning is arranging the backlog by rank. After items in the backlog are ranked, you can plan the highest ranking items to the next release or sprint backlog.

  1. Click the Rank column header to sort the grid by rank. Initially, backlog items are ranked in the order in which they were created.

  2. Move the items accordingly to create a new rank:

    • Drag a single item up or down the grid or Smart List to change its rank, or select multiple items and drag them to a new position.

    • In the rank column, click the rank number and type in the new rank.

      If you type in the rank, the following rules apply:

      Moving up a rank.

      When you move an item to a higher rank n, the edited item is moved above the item that was previously ranked n. In the example below, us5 is changed from rank 5 to rank 2. As a result, items us2 to us4 are moved down one rank each.

      Moving down a rank.

      When you move an item to a lower rank n, the edited item is moved below the item that was previously ranked n. In the example below, us2 is changed from rank 2 to rank 5. As a result, items us3 to us5 are moved up one rank each.

    Other items are automatically shifted up or down the grid and re-ranked accordingly.

Backlog items do not have a fixed rank number. In any grid or list, the items are listed in their relative positions, and ranked consecutively from 1 to [no. of items in the grid].

Note:  

  • After you set ranks, the ranking is preserved even if you sort the grid by another field. When you sort again by rank, the ranking is restored.

  • New items that you create are ranked below the lowest ranking backlog item in the backlog.

  • You cannot display ranking in a grouped grid.

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Rank subsets of Backlog items

Leader permissions are required.

After you rank a main backlog, you can also rank any subset of the main Backlog. A subset of the product backlog, for example, can be a filtered grid.

The items in the subset retain their relative positions in the main backlog, and are ranked consecutively from 1 to [no. of items in the grid]. However, changes you make to ranks in the subset are reflected in the main backlog.

To demonstrate some of the ranking behavior, prepare a grid of backlog items, and remove all filters. Then perform the following steps:

Step

Result

1. Sort the grid by rank. The grid is ranked according to the order in which items were created, or according to ranks you previously set.
2. Drag items up or down the grid.

The ranks are set according to their new position in the grid.

3. Define a filter for the grid. The filtered items are listed in order of their rank, and ranked from 1 to [no. of items in the grid].
4. Drag an item to the second row in the grid. Make a note of the item on the top row. The item's rank is set according to its new position in the filtered grid.
5. Clear the filter. The item you moved is ranked immediately below the top ranked item in the filtered grid.

Prioritize by WSJF components

The WSJF formula is a well-established method for determining epic and feature priorities. It uses various parameters and a calculated measurement to determine an overall WSJF score for the item.

The WSJF score is taken from a combination of different specific fields and calculated measurements:

WSJF fields
Business Value The epic or feature's values to customers or the business. For example, how the epic or feature affects revenue.
Time Criticality The urgency to deliver the epic or feature.
RR | OE The epic or feature's value in eliminating risks or creating new opportunities.
Calculated measurements
Cost of delay

The different between an epic or a feature being available now or later. The Cost of Delay is the sum of the above components:

Cost of Delay = Business Value + Time Criticality + RR | OE

Job size The estimated length of time need to implement the epic or feature.
WSJF Score

The radio of the cost of delay and the job size. The higher the WSJF score, the higher the priority of the epic or feature.

WSJF Score = Cost of Delay / Job Size OR
WSJF Score = (Business Value + Time Criticality + RR | OE)/Job Size

For the WSJF fields (Business Value, Time Criticality, and RR | OE), you can select the values 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 40, or 100 from the list. For the Job Size measurement you select any integer value.

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Update backlog items as you plan

When building the Backlog, you may want to also plan a number of things for a given item or items, including which release, which team, users, and so on.

You have multiple options for doing this:

When creating an item In the Add <Entity> dialog box, update the required and optional fields according to your needs.
When editing an item In the Details tab of a Backlog item, update the fields.

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Next steps: