Feature availability: Delivery Plans, a Marketplace extension, is available for Team Services. All users with basic access can view, add, and configure Delivery Plans. Stakeholders, however, don’t have access to Delivery Plans.
Use the visualization options provided by Delivery Plans to review the schedule of stories or features your teams plan to deliver. Delivery Plans show the scheduled work items by sprint (iteration path) of selected teams against a calendar view.
Use Delivery Plans to ensure your teams are aligned with your organizational goals. You can view multiple backlogs and multiple teams across your whole account. You can interact with the plan with simple drag-and-drop operations to update or modify the schedule.
Review a plan with your teams
It takes several teams to develop large software projects. Very large projects require multiple autonomous teams (review Agile culture for a discussion of autonomous teams and organizational alignment). Autonomous teams manage their own backlog and priority which contributes to a unified direction for that project.
Regular reviews of the project schedule with these teams help ensure that the teams are working toward common goals. Delivery Plans provide the needed multi-team view of your project schedule.
Some questions you might address during the review:
- How confident are the teams in meeting the deliverables scheduled for each sprint?
- Are dependencies across teams adequately addressed via the planned deliverables?
- Are their gaps in the schedule, where no deliverables are scheduled? What's the cause? Can this be mitigated?
For example, we use Delivery Plans internally to share the schedule of Features that we add to Team Services. By seeing the work many teams have planned for the next 3 sprints, we can easily discuss whether these are the right priorities and if dependencies exist.
In this way, a Delivery Plan is a driver of alignment while allowing each team to retain a strong sense of autonomy. Individual teams can work to different sprint cadences, if needed, and manage different work item types—stories, features, or epics. Their work is all visible with the same plan view. Teams can even be part of different team projects if they use different processes. You can also customize the card fields so that you only see the data fields of interest and applicable per work item type.
In order to add and configure a plan, you must have the following in place:
- Installed the Plans extension
- Be granted Basic access or greater in Team Services or TFS (Users with Stakeholder access can't add or view plans)
- Defined iteration paths for the team project
- Configured teams and set team defaults and team sprints
- Teams have defined user stories, features, or other product or portfolio backlogs and assigned them to iterations
Add a plan
Once you have installed Delivery Plans, the Plans page appears under the Work hub.
To add a plan, click New Plan from the Plans page.
Fill in the form to name, describe, and specify the team backlogs that you want to appear within your plan.
When defining a plan, note the following:
- Use the name and description field to clearly identify your plan within the project
- You can choose one or more teams from any team project defined in the account or collection
- You can choose one or more active backlogs for a team
- The order in which you enter the teams and team backlogs defines the order in which they'll appear in the plan
- To limit the number or types of work items, specify the field criteria.
Edit a plan, add field criteria, customize cards, and add markers
Once you've defined a plan, you can further customize it.
Click the gear icon to open the Settings dialog.
Then, click the page you want to edit. You can customize the plan in the following ways:
- Edit the teams you've selected and their backlog level
- Set field criteria to further limit the work items that will appear on the plan
- Add markers to show important upcoming events on your timeline
Customize the fields that display on the cards, similar to how you customize them for your Kanban or task board.
Here, we add the Tags field criteria. Only work items that contain the RC Review tag will appear in the Delivery Plan.
To set a marker, open the Markers page, specify a date and select a color.
Markers appear on the plan as shown:
View the list of plans, open a plan
Once you've defined a few plans, you'll see them listed from the Plans page under All, or the ones you've clicked a Favorite star under Favorites. You can see their title, description and their most recent creator/editor.
Use the favorite's star to favorite a plan so that you can quickly return to that plan. You can also search for other plans in the project.
To open a plan, simply click the plan name.
Interactive elements of plans, change the plan view
Each team's backlog specified in a Delivery Plan appears as a row within the plan view. When collapsed, a roll-up of the backlog items shows. When expanded, a card for each backlog item appears, organized by their assigned iteration.
You can interact with the plan in the following ways:
- Scale the size of the cards (enter + or - to also scale)
- Scroll the view horizontally via the calendar to view previous months or future months (Enter Shift-left or Shift-right to scroll)
- You can also scroll the plan via click and dragging your mouse.
- Scroll the view vertically to view teams that appear lower within the plan view
- Click a card to view the details of a backlog item
- Expand or collapse a single team row to view details for that team by clicking the team name or team sprint
- Expand and collapse all team rows (Enter u to collapse, o to expand all rows)
- Enter t to quickly toggle fields shown on cards to just the Title or all other card field settings
- Click the settings gear to edit the plan and change the fields displayed on the cards.
For a list of all keyboard shortcuts, see Plan view keyboard shortcuts.
In the following example, Team 1 features expanded, two items are scheduled for delivery in Sprint 50.
You can also quickly see that:
- Team 1 is currently working on Sprint 50 deliverables
- Sprint 50 began on December 14th and is scheduled to end December 25th.
- The team expects to deliver the two features shown by the cards.
A benefit of Delivery Plans is to view multiple teams across your projects that you care about. Two main ways to view more teams within the plan view is to collapse all teams to focus on summary data and to minimize the number of fields displayed on cards.
Collapse teams for summary information
To gain a summary view of work that is schedule, collapse all teams. You can then more easily look for gaps in the forward forecast.
For example, here you can see the count of Features for Team 1 for the next 3 sprints. You can collapse/expand team rows by clicking the team name or the sprint name.
Minimize the fields displayed on cards
To quickly change the cards to only show their Title, enter the keyboard shortcut 't'. This will hide all other fields, as shown in the following image, the Assigned to field no longer appears. To persist this view, edit the plan's settings for card fields.
Update the iteration for a backlog item
As changes occur to the schedule, you you can update the iteration for a backlog item by moving a card to a different iteration. This will help to drive alignment across your organization.
So now you've got an idea of how to use plans to create a project schedule view across multiple teams. From the settings dialog, you can also
For additional resources for working with multiple teams, see these additional topics:
Permissions to create and edit plans
The creator of a plan as well as all members of the Project Collection Administrators and Project Administrators groups have permissions to edit, manage, and delete plans.
Plans are an object within a team project. You manage plan permissions for each plan similar to the way you manage permissions for shared queries or query folders.
- To grant permissions to a group or user to manage or edit a specific plan, click the actions icon to open the Security dialog for the plan.
Add a user or group who you want to grant permissions to or restrict access. By default, non-administrators can't delete or edit a plan that you create.
With the user or group selected, set the permission you want them to have to Allow.
For example, here we grant permission to Raisa to edit the plan.
Plans view, keyboard shortcuts
From a Delivery Plan page, enter ? to open the keyboard shortcuts pane. For additional shortcuts, see hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts.
Install the Plans page extension
Programmatically manage Delivery Plans
You can manage plans programmatically using the Plans REST API.