Confusion about agile forecasting in TFS

Microsoft introduced with TFS 2012 a nicely integrated set of Agile Project Management features (Planning and Tracking) which became part of the redesigned Team Web Access portal.

One of the interesting features is the ability to forecast which product backlog items will (potentially) be delivered in future sprints, based on the velocity of the development team.

Forecasting

This view is your ideal partner when you want to discuss the release schedule of individual product backlog items with the business. It will become clear that moving things up/down will have impact on the delivery date (Sprint). It will visually show the business that each Sprint has boundaries and it’s not possible to quickly add more stuff to the upcoming Sprint. Other PBIs will be dropped from the Sprint. Sure, the business is entitled to move things up, but as a result other things will automatically go down.

Unfortunately, the view is a bit confusing and I already had a number of discussions during my ALM training sessions on this topic. The image above shows horizontal lines as the boundary for future Sprints. Forecasting in the example is enabled and based on a velocity of 10 Story Points. The key here is to understand whether the Sprint number is set above the top line of the Sprint “box” or if the Sprint number is set above the bottom line of the Sprint “box”. Almost everyone believes at first sight that Sprint 2 will contain PBI 4, 5, 6 and 7. But that’s incorrect because the Sprint number is set above the bottom line of the Sprint “box”. So, PBI items 1, 2 and 3 are forecasted to be delivered in Sprint 2 (total of 9 Story Points) and PBI items 4, 5, 6 and 7 are forecasted to be delivered in Sprint 3 (total of 10 Story Points).

SprintOverviewForecasting

The forecasting feature is currently incorrectly explained in the ALM hands-on exercise about the Product Backlog and Sprints.

A nice way to avoid the confusion could be for example to use some alternate coloring to show exactly what belongs to a specific Sprint or to add the Sprint number to each line in the Forecast column.

Hope this helps to get it right!

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