Learn stages and skills

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Stages are activities that are done sequentially per work item.

For example:

There are several work stages during a release.

Stage 1 - Design is the first stage that has to be completed.

Stage 2 - Implementation, which is done only after the design has taken place, and

Stage 3 - Testing is done as the last work stage.

Another example:

Using stages in a Scrum team that is using hours/day estimation:

Stage 1 - Product owner writes the story

Stage 2- The cross-functional Scrum team does the implementation.

How to create stages

A stage is an activity that is done sequentially per work item. You can learn more about stages and skills.

  1. Go to your plan > click   located next to the plan name, and go to Configure.
  2. Select Add stage.
  3. Type in the new stage name and click Add stage.
  4. You can configure the new stage name by clicking it.
  5. Change the color by clicking on the color ball and selecting a new color.
  6. Once you have the stage you can proceed and add skills to each stage.


Skills are abilities that team members must have in order to complete work items. Skills can be defined per stage and allow to categorize different types of work within a stage.

Skills are useful in cases where the team's members abilities can cause bottlenecks in planning. You will have to take into account that your team has the appropriate specializations.

For example: 

Design stage:

  • UI design - UX Design skills
  • Frontend architecture - frontend development skills.

How to create skills

Skills are abilities that team members must have in order to complete work items. Skills can be defined per stage and allow to categorize different types of work within a stage.

  1. Go to your plan > click   located next to the plan name, and go to Configure.
  2. Select Add skill, type in the new skill name and click Create local skill.
  3. Choose the estimate allocation percentage.
    The estimate allocation will define the percentage of that skill that someone needs to complete that issue.

    For example: If the issue had an estimate of 10, and there was coding with 50% and a visual design skill with 50%, 5 points of the estimate would require someone with the coding skill and 5 points would require someone with the test skill.

  4. Delete a skill by hovering over it, selecting   and clicking Delete.

  5. Once you've created a set of skills, you can add them to the stages.


Example 1 - Fully Cross-functional Scrum team

In the following example, you have a fully cross-functional Scrum team. Everyone in the team can do all type of work required to implement a user story. 

Stage 1 - The product owner writes the user story,

Stage 2- The team implements the story. All activities such as UI/visual design, coding, testing, and delivery are done within the same iteration. 

The configuration of stages will be very simple in this case, just adding two stages, without any skills. 

Everyone can take over any implementation task, so everyone just has the Implementation skill, as depicted below: 

As a result, the schedule will look like this when adding some stories: the story writing stage will be scheduled at least one sprint before the implementation, except for stories, that don't require story writing effort. 

Example 2 - Fully Cross-functional Scrum team, story writing effort not planned in

If you do not want to estimate and reflect story writing effort in your capacity plan, but rather plan it separately, it is easy to just leave out a stage completely. Let's assume this scenario: 

All that is needed in this case is the implementation stage. Also, the Product Owner does not need to be modeled in the capacity plan at all. 

The schedule is now based on the assumption, that all required input (user stories, requirements,..) will be available for the team as soon as the stories are scheduled. 

We recommend to represent all types of effort (stages/skills) in your plan rather than planning some activities separately. Particularly, being realistic and explicit about design work and user story writing, or also requirements analysis is one of the common challenges many teams see in their organization.

Example 3 - Scrum team with some specializations

In the third scenario, we'll assume there are some specializations in the team .e.g., everyone can take over some tasks such as testing, but there are only two people taking care of design, and also for implementation, there are some specializations: 

In order to model this scenario, simply add the specializations as skills for the corresponding stage (in this case: implementation). 

Additionally, assign the skills for each of the team members: 

Example 4 - Team working with continuous schedule (e.g. Kanban)

In this scenario, the team works on a day-to-day schedule, rather than doing iterations. The work is structured into design, implementation, and test, happening sequentially per work item. However, rather than waiting for the next iteration to start with the next stage of work, in this case, implementation can start on the next day after the design has been completed. 

Here's how this team setup could be modeled: 

  • Switch the team schedule to Kanban mode
  • Define 3 stages: Design, Implementation, and Test
  • Add specializations for stages where needed (e.g. frontend, backend, and data management in this example)

The schedule will look different for Kanban teams: the stages are scheduled sequentially per item. If there are free capacities, multiple stories can also be scheduled in parallel. The focus is on completing stories end-to-end from design through testing in the shortest possible time period.

Last modified on Jan 30, 2018

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