Friday, December 29, 2006

From tracking to planning ... and back

xProcess provides many of the facilities of an issue tracking tool alongside its project planning/execution and process improvement functionality. Particularly with the new web client access, it's quite possible to use xProcess as your issue tracking server as well as your project execution environment. However many projects and organisation already have issue tracking systems in place and would like to integrate the two systems, allowing issues to transform into tasks in project plans - when they have been classified in the tracker system - and the status of issues to change when progress is reported by the project.

The mechanism xProcess provides for implementing such integrations is the Workflow Server. This can monitor the tracker system as well as changes within the xProcess data source and trigger actions when specific changes are detected. How does this work out in practice? Here's a brief summary of a current integration with a leading tracking tool.
  • The tracker is used to create, modify and review issues
  • xProcess is used for planning and executing the confirmed issues
  • When issues are confirmed, work is planned by instantiating the correspondingpattern (say for a bug-fix) in the appropriate xProcess project. It is the user setting the status to “confirmed” that triggers the transfer into the plan.
  • Updates made to the data in the tracker may cause an alert or update in xProcess and vice versa.
  • When sub-tasks close in xProcess, the plan status in tracker is updated by the Workflow Server. For example states like: Specified, Code complete, and Accepted correspond to particular subtasks being completed and closed in the project.
  • If an issue is deleted or closed in the tracker, data is transferred to xProcess and may cause an alert to the project manager or other flags to be set in the data.
  • Viewing the task in xProcess allows data from the tracker screens to be viewed (and updated) directly. Reverse links also possible.
  • The issue in tracker and its corresponding task or tasks in xProcess are independent objects but with linked lifecycles that are controlled and synchronized through the Workflow Server.
Much of this integration is independent of the particular tool you are using for tracking, so you may find providing your tracker integration can build directly on this work.
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