Build the product backlog

The first step in the development process is building and prioritizing the product backlog. Use the Backlog module to perform this work.

Create the Backlog

When starting to work in ALM Octane, create your backlog to enable you to create work and release plans.

Tip: Add these Backlog items to an Excel file and import them into ALM Octane. For details, see Import backlog items.

To create the backlog:

  1. Create epics and features.

    1. In the Backlog module, click the down arrow next to the Add button + and select Epic or Feature.

    2. Define the item attributes or leave this for the planning stage.

      Tip: Drag items in the Backlog tree to reorganize. As you reorganize, ALM Octane reorders the tree in alphabetical order.

      If you delete epics and features later, instruct ALM Octane to remove only the epic/feature or the epic/feature and all its descendant items:

      • Select Delete to remove only the epic or feature

      • Select Cascading Delete to remove the epic or feature and all its descendant items

  2. Create user stories or quality stories.

    1. Click the down arrow next to the Add button + and select User Story or Quality Story from the drop-down list.

    2. Define the item attributes or leave this for the planning stage.

    3. (Optional) In the Add User Story story dialog, in the Tasks to generate field, add one or more lines with tasks.

      ALM Octane generates each line in the field as an individual task.

    If you select an item in the Backlog tree, ALM Octane uses this item as the value in Epic field (for new features) or the Feature field (for new user stories, quality stories, and defects).

    If you leave the Epic or Feature field value blank, ALM Octane assigns the item to the Backlog epic or feature. Also, ALM Octane does not display these items in the hierarchy of the tree. You can find the item through search.

Tip: When entering a description for any of these items, click the Add link to existing item button # in the edit box toolbar. Follow the instructions in the tooltip displayed to search existing items and link to these items in the entity description:

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Fill in Backlog items fields automatically

When you create an item in the Backlog, instruct ALM Octane to automatically enter set values in certain fields.

With an autofill data set, you define specific values for certain fields, and save these values as an autofill set. When you create a specific item type (like a user story or defect), ALM Octane inserts the saved values into the item's fields.

To use an autofill data set:

Save a data set
  1. In the Backlog module, click the down arrow next to the Add + button and select the item type to create.

  2. In the Add dialog box, enter the required values for the fields.

    ALM Octane does not save values for the parent field with autofill data sets. Parent fields differ for item type (Epics for features, Features for user stories, and so forth).

  3. In the upper left corner of the Add dialog box, click Save as template and set the options for the data set.

  4. Click Save.
Update a data set

In the item, change the necessary field values. Then, click Update template.

You can update only templates that you created.

Save the changes as a new data set with the Save as new option or update sharing options with the Edit options option.

Share a data set

Share a data set with others on your team or other teams, or all ALM Octane users.

When saving a new data set or updating an existing set:

In the Save as template dialog box, select either Share with all or Share with teams:. If you select the Share with teams option, select the teams to which to share the data set.

Apply a data set to a Backlog item

Select the autofill data set before you enter any values in the Add dialog box. Otherwise, ALM Octane clears or replaces any data you entered.

  1. In the Backlog module, click the down arrow next to the Add + button and select the item type to create.
  2. Click the Autofill edit field and select the data set to use.

ALM Octane enters the data saved in the selected autofill data set in the Add dialog box.

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Rank the Backlog

Leader permissions are required to rank epics and features.

A key factor in effective planning is arranging the Backlog by rank. Ranking lets you work on the highest ranking items in the next release or sprint.

To rank backlog items:

  1. In the selected tab, click the Rank column header to sort the grid.

  2. Move the items:

    • Drag one or more items up or down the Grid View or Smart List View.

    • Click the rank number and type in a new value.

    • Right-click an item and select Rank Highest or Rank Lowest.

    ALM Octane shifts the other items up or down the grid and re-ranks them.

Items do not have a fixed rank number. ALM Octane lists the items in their relative positions and ranks them from 1 to [no. of items in the grid].

After you set ranks, ALM Octane preserves the ranking if you sort the grid by another field. When you sort again by rank, ALM Octane restores the ranking.

ALM Octane creates new items with the lowest rank.

Note: ALM Octane does not support ranking for grouped items.

It is possible to rank any subset of items, such as items filtered by release or sprint. ALM Octane updates changes you make to ranks in the subset in the ranking of the entire Backlog module.

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Rank with WSJF attributes

The WSJF formula is a well-established method for determining epic and feature priorities. It uses parameters and a calculated measurement to determine an WSJF score for an item.

In the feature or epic details, set the value of WSJF-specific fields:

WSJF fields
Business Value The item's value to customers or the business. For example, how the epic or feature affects revenue.
Time Criticality The urgency to deliver the epic or feature.
RR | OE The epic or feature's value in eliminating risks or creating new opportunities.
Calculated measurements
Cost of delay

The difference between an epic or a feature being available now or later. The Cost of Delay is the sum of the above components:

Cost of Delay = Business Value + Time Criticality + RR | OE

Job size The estimated length of time need to finish the epic or feature. You measure this using your own unit (hours, story points, and so forth).
WSJF Score

The ratio of the cost of delay and the job size. The higher the WSJF score, the higher the priority of the epic or feature.

WSJF Score = Cost of Delay / Job Size OR
WSJF Score = (Business Value + Time Criticality + RR | OE)/Job Size

For the WSJF fields (Business Value, Time Criticality, and RR | OE), select a value from the list. For the Job Size measurement, enter any integer value.

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Update multiple backlog items

When working in the Backlog module, you may want to update a common attribute of many items.

To update multiple backlog items:

  1. In the Grid View or Smart List View, select up to 200 items.

  2. Right-click and select Bulk Update.

  3. In the Bulk Update dialog box, select up to 5 fields

  4. Click Update to apply the changes.

    ALM Octane displays a notification message for successful updates.

    For errors, ALM Octane displays an dialog indicating the failed updates. Export this information to a CSV file to view the items not updated.

    There are some fields you cannot update with Bulk Update, including user-defined fields.

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