Dimensions CM 14.3 Pulse Agile Requests

The Dimensions CM 14.3 release is available for download, so it's now time for the Dimensions CM development team to provide you with more information about some of the new features we've just implemented.
I'm David Conneely, I'm a technical lead working on Pulse (the web interface introduced in Dimensions CM 14 for peer review and visualizing change). This is the first of a couple of posts about the new functionality in Pulse as part of the Dimensions CM 14.3 release.
Agile software development involves (among other practices) delivering small, adaptive working increments to a deliverable product. Given regular feedback, your team will build software that matches client requirements better. We know that many CM customers want work to be organized and planned in a way that fits with these principles.
Dimensions CM manages requests which can be used to represent items of work, so often our customers would end up with a story in a separate Agile planning tool, and a request in Dimensions CM - both representing the same piece of work, but with no connection between them.
With Dimensions CM 14.3, we have added functionality to allow customers to organize and plan requests directly, within the Pulse web interface.

1.  Organizing work

You can create and manage backlogs in Pulse Products. Backlogs can be found within the Requests sidebar link that appears when you are located on a Product within Pulse.
A Pulse backlog represents the work for a particular release, product/component, or team. We allow you to drag an existing request into a backlog, or create a new request directly within the backlog.
As well as requests, you can create epics and features. Think of these as a bit like folders to put the requests into a hierarchical structure, which helps to think about how the work should be broken down. This way you can see all the related requests together.
[image "Dragging found requests (right) into epics within a backlog (left)"]

2.  Ranking and sizing work

Now, a backlog is a prioritized list of work – for a particular release, product/component, or team – so you can start ordering the requests by dragging and dropping them. You can also provide an estimated effort for the stories, this sometimes helps to prioritize work.
The effort estimates can be held within a request's attributes if you configure the Request Type (see the Product Settings sidebar link when located on a Product) and this is recommended so that you can edit the estimates in any Dimensions CM client. However, while you are evaluating this functionality you don't need to do this - in which case the estimate is stored and accessible only within Pulse.
[image "Request type options in CM Pulse"]
Estimated effort in Pulse is not in a particular unit – you can consider them to be hours, days or abstract story points as you prefer.
[image "You can add estimates and drag-and-drop to order in a backlog"]

3.  Planning work

Once you have requests ordered and with approximate sizes, you can allocate the work to time boxed iterations. Iterations can be found in the same Requests sidebar link as backlogs.
An iteration is a short duration of time where work will be executed (a sprint in Scrum), so they have a start and end date. The iterations list is divided into past, current and future iterations.
You can drag requests from your backlog into the iteration. This will often happen in some kind of team planning meeting where the effort estimates can be reviewed and the team ensures they are able to commit to doing the work allocated to the iteration.
[image "Iteration content (left); and a backlog to choose from (right)"]

4.  Executing work

After your iteration is planned, and has started, your developers will begin working on the planned requests. They will action the requests through their lifecycle using either their IDE, desktop client or by dragging the card to another column in Pulse (all reflect the same information) and update the estimated effort remaining.
Your developers can continue using their existing Dimensions CM client (as long as you have set up attributes for the effort estimates on the request type in Pulse).
As they update the effort remaining, you will see that the blue graph on the card wall page will start to burn down as work is completed and the estimated effort remaining reduces.
You'll also see that the request cards in the card wall view show a health indication, which is calculated from the peer reviews and expert chains that have run against the changesets associated with that request.
[Image "Iteration card wall"]
You can find lots more information about Agile at Agile Manifesto, Wikipedia or the Agile Alliance site. Further information about the Dimensions CM release can be found in the Introducing Serena Dimensions CM 14.3 webcast. Come back to this blog soon for more about the changes to peer review and changes to expert chains in Pulse as part of the Dimensions CM 14.3 release.


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