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Pipelines, kanbans and workflows

Introduction

 

Overview

Pipelines, kanbans, and workflows are related concepts in that they allow you to define the process that an item of some kind should follow. In fact, Pipelines and kanbans have exactly the same representation in Hansoft and the difference is more a mental one. A way to think about these different concepts is in terms of the situations in which they are useful.

• Pipeline - A pipeline can be thought of as a template that creates a series of detailed tasks when the pipeline is applied to an item in the Planning section. For example, if you have a special kind of backlog item that always go through the same sequence of tasks when they are committed into the Planning section in Hansoft you can create a Pipeline that defines this task sequence. You can then assign the defined pipeline to these items in the Product backlog and then whenever they are committed to the Planning section the pipeline will be instantiated as a set of subtasks to the committed item. Pipelines are typically used to automate task creation in a sprint on a fairly detailed level. The steps in a pipeline typically maps to tasks that should be performed by an individual person. Even though it is possible to visualize a pipeline in the board view in Hansoft they are often too detailed and have too much branching/parallelism in them for this to be manageable. For the most part pipeline items will be interacted with from the Hierarchical Planning section and each user’s To do list.

• Kanban - A kanban in Hansoft, or more precisely a kanban board or kanban flow, can be seen as a way to visualize a value flow. The value flow comprises a set of items flowing through a number of refinement steps. Typically the steps of the kanban are related to different stages of refinement for the items that are flowing through the kanban. Kanbans are useful on different levels of abstraction, they can be used to visualize high level value flow for Features or Business Epics but they are also useful on the team level, for example for teams that utilize a kanban or scrumban approach. When used on a team level a kanban can define a series of high level steps, for example Define-Build-Test. Each such step can then be defined in more detail in the schedule view by breaking it down into subtasks that an individual can work on. Kanbans are typically created because you want to visualize the value flow of items; hence the board view is typically used to visualize that. Another strength kanbans is that you can use concepts like maximum work in progress limits and takt time to manage and improve the cycle time in your value flow. Kanbans are mostly useful when you don’t have too many steps or a lot of parallelism in the flow.

• Workflow - While pipelines and kanbans focuses on the end to end flow for items through a series of stages or tasks, workflows are focused on how an item can go through a series of status changes through its life time. In fact, a workflow is a kind of a finite state machine. We have already seen that a workflow is automatically attached to bugs created in the Quality assurance section of Hansoft. It is, however, also possible to attach a workflow to an item in the schedule. A common reason for attaching a workflow to an item in the schedule is that you have some kind of sign-off process that items should go through before they can be considered fully completed. Typical examples includes a sign off process for art assets when developing a video game or a sign off process for user stories/product backlog items that are worked on in a sprint.

 

Functionality in Hansoft

Pipelines and workflows are used to describe the order in which tasks are performed. It is useful for facilitating hand-offs, sign-offs, or simply to embrace the iterative nature of many development environments. Pipelines, which are also used in Kanban planning, define a "tree" of tasks, which can be executed in parallel or in sequence, while workflows define the possible states a task can be in.

The pipelines, kanbans and workflows tool is accessed in the More.. menu, or by pressing Ctrl + Shift + W in the schedule or backlog views (Cmd + Shift + W). Workflows are also available for Quality Assurance items.

Entering the Pipeline, kanban and workflow tool from the More.. menu

Before pipelines and workflows can be used, the tool itself must be enabled. This will create a "Pipelines / workflow" column in the Planning section and in the backlog, allowing for assigning a specific pipeline or workflow to an item.

The Pipeline, kanban and workflow tool

After the tool has been enabled, users can create and manage pipelines and workflows. One particularly important feature is the duplicate tool (found in the More.. menu), typically used to extend and adapt a previously designed pipeline or workflow.

Duplicating a pipeline or workflow

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