For software development, reporting is a great way to provide stakeholders with information about the progress of a project and to prepare for future decisions. One reporting approach that is gaining momentum is agile reporting, thanks to the agile development methodology.
While agile development teams know everything about the progress, the key stakeholders like product owners, users and top management don’t have the time to follow the nitty gritty progress items. And so reporting is the only way to keep them abreast. But traditional reporting can be intense and rigid. Agile reporting solves this by using smart methods to iterate and display data in an easy-to-understand, actionable manner.
But while agile reporting has many benefits, it can also be challenging to create effective agile reports due to the need for constant iteration and adaptation.
Here, we guide you into navigating these challenges and eventually execute a successful agile report that stakeholders will be happy to see.
What is agile reporting?
Agile reporting is a concept of reporting that is based on the principle of agile software development, which emphasizes collaboration, speed, and flexibility. A standout feature of agile reporting is adaptability and flexibility. Unlike traditional reports, which are typically fixed, agile reports can be easily modified to meet the changing needs of a project. Agile reports are typically shorter and more concise than traditional reports, and they often make use of data visualizations to convey information in an easy-to-understand format. It typically involves delivering reports in shorter cycles, with constant feedback and collaboration between the project teams and stakeholders.
Benefits of agile reporting
For a start, agile reporting enables project managers to make the most of the agile methodology by reacting quickly to changes in business conditions and customer demands. With agile reporting, you can easily adapt your reports to reflect the latest information, making it easy to get an accurate picture of what's going on. Here are the core benefits of agile reporting:
- Increased efficiency: Agile reporting helps development teams to collect and analyze data much more efficiently.
- Improved accuracy and flexibility: Agile reporting also improves the accuracy of data collection and analysis. This is because as a business, you can test and adapt your methods as you go, ensuring that you are always using the most accurate data without having to start from scratch each time.
- Better communication: The agile reporting process encourages communication between all members of the team, which leads to improved outcomes.
- Increased stakeholder satisfaction: Ultimately, the goal of agile reporting is to help improve stakeholder satisfaction levels. By collecting and analyzing data more efficiently, you can make better adjustments that lead to satisfying reports.
Steps to effective agile reporting
These are the essential steps for effective agile reporting. Please follow them closely when implementing agile reporting in your projects.
Step 1: Define your reporting goals
The first step in agile reporting is to define the goal. This may seem like a simple task, but it is actually the most important part of the process. Without a clear goal, it will be difficult to measure progress and determine whether the agile reporting process is successful. There are many factors to consider when defining a goal, such as the time frame, the resources available, and the objectives of the project.
Once you know what you're trying to achieve, you can comfortably design the reports to meet that goal. Remember that reporting is designed to help stakeholders follow the progress and make better decisions, not bog them down with unnecessary information.
Step 2: Identify what data to report on
In order to remain agile, it is essential to identify which data is most important to report on for any report you are working on. This data will vary depending on the goals defined in step 1 above, but some key factors that you need to consider include the current status of the project, how much work has been completed, and whether teams are meeting their deadlines.
By identifying which data is most important, your project teams can ensure that they are making reports based on accurate and up-to-date information. Additionally, this data can help to identify areas where improvements need to be made. For example, if teams consistently fail to meet their deadlines, it may be necessary to reevaluate the way work is assigned and managed.
Step 3: Collect data from the right sources
Now that you understand what data you need, it's time to collect it from the right sources. All too often, teams collect data that isn't relevant to their project reporting, which can lead to inaccurate reports and wasted time.
When gathering data for your agile reports, make sure to focus on the following:
- The project's goals and objectives
- The team's progress towards meeting those goals
- The status of individual tasks and how they're related to the larger goal
- Any roadblocks or dependencies that are affecting progress
Step 4: Define the audience
Once you've defined the purpose and scope of your report, it's time to define its audience. Who will be reading your report? Is it for management, scrum team members, or clients? Knowing your audience is essential to tailoring your report so that it's relevant and useful to them.
Once you know who will be consuming your report, you can start to think about what information they need to see in order to make informed decisions. What are your key findings? What does this data mean for the project? Thinking about these questions will help you to structure your report in a way that's easy to understand and actionable.
Step5: Set milestones
Now that you've determined what to include in your agile report, it's time to set some milestones for the reporting. This will help you to determine when you want to share the report with your intended audience, and the amount of data you will be sharing.
Some things to keep in mind when setting milestones:
- Your report should be updated on a regular basis in readiness for each milestone, preferably weekly or monthly
- Allow enough time to compile all the necessary data before drafting and publishing your report
- Share the report with the intended audience within the timelines set out in your milestones, so they can provide timely feedback.
Step 6: Choose the reporting technique
Of course you have the power to position your report in a way that best captures the specific items you want to report on, as long as this is what the stakeholders are expecting. But generally, these are the common agile reporting types that you can use.
A burnup chart is a graphical representation of the total amount of work that has been completed on a project, as well as the total amount of work that remains to be done. The x-axis of the burnup chart represents the timeline of the project, while the y-axis represents the total amount of work.
Burnup charts are typically used in agile software development to track progress and predict completion dates. It shows the cumulative effort (in hours) put in by the team up to a specific point in time. The main advantage of using a burnup chart is that it provides a clear visual representation of progress. This can be helpful for identifying potential problems or delays early on in the project. Burnup charts can also be used to communicate progress to stakeholders in a clear and concise manner.
The burndown chart is a graphical representation of the amount of work remaining to be done (the «burn down») at each level of the project, and can be used to predict when a project will be completed. The main advantage of a burndown chart is that it provides a clear and concise view of progress, which can improve communication between team members. It can also be used to discuss the agile status reporting of a project at regular intervals.
A Velocity Graph is a graphical representation of the amount of work that has been completed over a specific period of time. It can be used to track the progress of a project or team's velocity, help to identify any potential bottlenecks, and determine whether the team is meeting its deadlines..
To create a velocity graph, you'll need to gather the following data:
- The number of story points executed successfully in each iteration
- The number of story points planned for each of the upcoming iterations
- The completion date of each iteration
Cumulative flow diagram
A Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) is a visualization tool used in project management to track progress over time. It plots the number of tasks in progress against the time elapsed, and can help you identify any potential bottlenecks or delays.
In essence, a CFD helps you answer the question: «How are we doing?» Important to note at this point that CFD can be used to track any type of project, but is particularly useful for agile projects, as it gives a good view of how well the agile team is performing against the sprint goal.
A status timeline is a type of bar chart that shows the start and end dates of tasks, as well as how long they will take. They can be used to visualize the status of any given project or task, and are a great way to quickly see what's been done, what's in progress, and what still needs to be done.
To create a status timeline, start by outlining the project schedule and milestones in chronological order. Next, add in the status of each task as it changes—blue for completed, green for in progress, and red for stalled or canceled. You can also add text notes to provide more detail about each task. You can then use this information to create a timeline that shows when each task will be completed.
Item process time graph
This graph displays the average amount of time it takes to complete an item, from start to finish. The item process time graph can be used to identify trends and patterns in the completion times of items, and compare the performance of different agile teams or individual team members. Additionally, the graph can be used to identify bottlenecks in the process and trigger improvements accordingly.
It’s worth emphasizing that agile reporting is an essential piece of any agile software development project. By providing real-time information to stakeholders, agile reporting allows you to evaluate your team's performance against stakeholder expectations. The overall impact is a more efficient agile development process.
If you’re not using agile reporting in your projects yet, it’s time to start.
Agile Reporting FAQ
Why is product backlog important?
The product backlog is one of the most important aspects of agile reporting. It's a list of all the features, tasks, and bugs that need to be fixed or added to the product. It's constantly updated as new information comes in, and it's used as a reference point by the development team during planning meetings.
The important thing is to make sure it's always up-to-date and accurately reflects the current state of the project.
What is user profile in agile reporting?
In agile reporting, a user profile is a collection of information that describes the characteristics, needs, and preferences of a specific user. This information is used to generate customized reports that are tailored to the user's individual needs. User profiles typically include data such as name, age, gender, location, and job title. This information helps to ensure that users receive the most relevant and targeted results possible.