Cycles

Cycles

Cycles enable you to set short-term goals and track progress. We firmly believe that the best way to create momentum for a product team is by setting goals at regular intervals, striving to achieve them, and capturing learnings after every cycle. A great article by Michael Seibel about using cycles in a cross-functional product team can be found in here.

Note that in Kitemaker, you can add work items and/or to-dos to a cycle. If you have work items that span multiple cycles, adding the to-dos will be a great way to set intermediate goals for those items.

Setting up cycles

Cycles are enabled at the space level. To configure your cycles, go to the cycles section in your space settings and click "Enable cycles". You will then be prompted to configure your cycle:

image

Note that the time zone for the space is set in the "General" section of the space settings, and it helps define the exact time a cycle starts and ends.

When cycles have been enabled, the upcoming and current (if applicable) cycles will be created automatically. You can still change the settings for the cycles, but it will only affect the creation of new cycles. Any existing current and upcoming cycles must be edited manually:

image

Tracking and managing cycles

Once cycles have been enabled for the space, a cycles section will appear under the space in the sidebar:

image

Clicking on cycles will by default take you to the current or the next upcoming cycle (if there is no current cycle). Clicking the list icon will bring you to the list of all cycles, including past, current, and upcoming ones.

image

Each cycle has a name (defaulting to "Cycle #"), in case you want to name cycles after the main goal or use any other custom naming convention.

You can set the start and end dates of cycles (note that you cannot change dates to those in the past).

Each cycle has a description. There are numerous uses for this, but at Kitemaker, we use it to note the main goal of the cycle.

Managing work items and todos

image

There is a prioritized list of work items (which you can reorder using drag and drop) and todos. You can add both work items and todos from the boards and work items by pressing the “...” or shift+o, or cmd+shift+o to add to the current or upcoming cycles, respectively.

Note that when a cycle starts or a work item is added to the current cycle from a backlog column, it will automatically move to the first todo column.

💡
Note that on boards you can sort by cycle. That will put the current cycles work items prioritized first, then the work items in the upcoming cycle, and lastly any other work items in past or in no cycles.

What happens when a new cycle starts

Several things occur when a cycle begins:

  1. The next upcoming cycle is created and becomes available for planning.
  2. Any unfinished todos or work items from the last cycle are automatically added to the new cycle.
  3. Any work items in the cycle that are on the planning board will be moved to the first "Not started" column on the current board. This will appear as a move action by Kitemaker.

Activity summary

image

The activity summary screen is an excellent way to get a glimpse of what is happening during the cycle and a great place to start when you want to discuss the cycle's progress or results. At Kitemaker, this is where we start our end-of-cycle retrospective meetings. It's a great way to see what unplanned work needed to be done during the cycle and the status of the work items we planned to work on.

The activity summary screen summarizes the activities during the cycle. If the work item is part of the cycle, or if the status of the work item or any to-do contained within the work item changes, the work item will be visible on this screen. Also, if any commit or PR is attached to the work item, it will also show on this screen.

Work items will be divided into “Planned Work Items”, which are the work items added to the cycle or have to-dos added to the cycle, and “Unplanned Work Items”, which are any other work items. Each card shows a summary of what happened during the cycle (you can hover over the different elements to get more information).

image

Notes

The notes section allows you to maintain notes for each cycle. At Kitemaker, we use them to jot down any miscellaneous plans for the week (such as discussions we need to have, or actions that don't fit into any specific work items) and for the notes from the Retro we hold at the end of each cycle. Having the Retro notes directly in the cycle is powerful, as it enables easy reference to previous cycles.

image