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Schedule Items and Getting Started with EBS (noob question)

I know this overlaps with some other questions here on the forum but after looking through many of them I find I'm still pretty uncertain.

We've been using FogBugz for 3/4 years but we've only really just begun to use it to it's full potential.  In the past we only really ever used it as a rudimentary task management system (in spite of my best efforts). 

Now, we're making an effort to use FogBugz to really manage a pretty good sized development project (for us).  We're finally trying to do estimation and hoping to leverage the EBS reporting as well.  Depending on how this goes there's a good chance we'll transition to FogBugz as an internal support tool as well. 

So, as far as this development project here's what I've done so far.  I've created a backlog of cases that correspond to user stories.  I've selected a set of these based on priority and added them to a milestone.  Having done that I estimated each of the items and I've been using "Working On" to track my time against them.

That all makes complete sense to me.  Where I'm struggling a bit is the fact that my role at the company involves lots of interruptions which effect my estimate of the milestone date.  It looks like Schedule Items are the way to track those but I'm really confused about how that works in practice.  Would I add a schedule item for various kinds of interruption (meetings, customer support, internal support) with a best-guess estimate for each to every milestone and update the estimate as appropriate?  If so, when do I close these Schedule Item cases?  Is there something special about how Schedule Item cases effect EBS reporting?  I get the impression that the Schedule Item category has some special handling in FogBugz but it's not entirely clear if that's the case and, if so, what it is.

What I'm looking to accomplish is to get better at estimating my own work and at creating realistic milestones so that I can provide a clearer picture of development efforts to our business owners.

Thanks for your consideration.  Any help would be most appreciated.
Everett Muniz Send private email
Friday, September 18, 2009
That's a good question, and something that I (as another new user) am also puzzled by.

So far I have experimented with creating a Schedule Item in the main project for distractions, creating a separate project for distractions, and just dialling down "availability to work on FogBugz tasks" from 100% to something lower (in the Working Schedule set-up.)

As the OP identified, the key is making sure that the estimates don't stuff up the EBS.  Under some of the approaches that I have used, it ends up that the estimates of distraction time don't quite fit in to the EBS approach.

The other thing is that I'm working on 2 week sprint cycles, so it rapidly becomes tiresome having to copy the same "distractions" into Schedule Items for every milestone.

So, sorry OP, I don't have an answer, but I will be waiting to hear from those that do.  You posted a great question.  Thanks.
Peter Dulimov Send private email
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I'm not sure why the estimates shouldn't be considered for EBS.  If you have to make a guess as to how much *other* time you spend on a given project, why wouldn't EBS want to take into account your accuracy for such a guess in future projects?
Michael H. Pryor Send private email
Monday, September 21, 2009
The conceptual difficulty (for me) is that Schedule Items like "Go to meetings" have an infinite life.  So every two weeks I close the last "Go to meetings" schedule item, create a new one for the next sprint, and copy the actual hours from the last one to the estimate for the new one.

Or in theory I should, but I'm too lazy, so I don't.  (Actually, there are several similar schedule items in my world view, so every two weeks I would have to repeat that process a couple of times.  It gets tiresome pretty quickly.)

There is no really simple alternative that I have figured out that works ideally.

Peter Dulimov Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thanks for replying on the thread, Michael.  My forum account was apparently deleted for some reason so I wasn't aware of the activity on the thread until I went out and checked it today. 

Your reply seems to be in response to Peter so I'm not sure what to take from it in terms of my original question.  I suppose I could infer that your vision for how to best use EBS in my situation is to create cases for all the distractions in every milestone.  Is that correct?

Any other feedback you can offer based on the original post would be most appreciated.  Thanks in advance.
Everett Muniz Send private email
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I have the same situation and I manage it this way:

I've adjusted my FB allocation down from 100%.  This gives me room to adjust if I find that my distractions become less in the future.  However, even if I don't do this, the FB EBS will eventually correct itself for time spent on cases based on my activity.

I let the clock run on a task - even if I get distracted.  When I get done with the distraction, I have two choices.
  - Make a case for the distraction and correct everything via timesheet
  - Or Just allow that distraction to be part of the time spent on the case.  As far as FB is concerned, it doesn't really matter that I thought I'd spend an hour on the interface but actually wound up spending an hour and a half because of 30 minutes of distraction.  Allowing the distraction into the case should show a realistic idea of when my work will get done by allowing FB to automatically adjust expected delivery for distractions.
Marc Moroz Send private email
Saturday, October 3, 2009

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