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Pivotal Tracker Overview


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Overview of agile methods in use at Pivotal Labs, and how they're embodied in Pivotal Tracker, Pivotal Labs's project collaboration tool. Tracker is available at

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  • That is kind of cool. A tool tracker system. That could be very beneficial to midsized companies. There was a lot of good information in this clip.
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Pivotal Tracker Overview

  1. 1. Pivotal Tracker Chicago Ruby, Aug 3
  2. 2. About Pivotal Labs • Software development consultancy, founded in 1989 • Agile (XP) since mid ‘90s • Rails since 2006 • Approximately 100 people, and growing (we’re hiring) • HQ in San Francisco, offices in New York, Boulder, and Singapore
  3. 3. What is Tracker? • Shared, predictive, collaborative to-do list for software development teams • Free, open to public: • User by thousands of teams and companies, over 100K users and over 100K projects • Used on all of our projects at Pivotal (and then some) • Rails app, hosted at Engine Yard (xCloud)
  4. 4. (and the only project management tool with it’s own song)
  5. 5. Typical Pivotal Project • Small team, 2-8 developers • Highly involved customer, in the room • Collective ownership of code • 100% pairing and TDD/BDD • Weekly iterations, frequent releases • 1 team = 1 Tracker project • Rotation between teams
  6. 6. Tracker in a Nutshell • Automates manual aspects of agile process, without getting in the way • Maintains prioritized list of work (stories) broken down to concrete, estimatable level • Groups list of work (backlog) into fixed segments of calendar time (iterations) • Predicts progress based on historical performance (velocity) • Provides birds-eye view of project to entire team and encourages communication
  7. 7. What’s the Story? A story is a feature that provides verifiable business value to the team’s customer • “Shopper can add product to shopping cart” • “Search for product should take 400ms or less” • “Ability to add new product via API” • We estimate a feature on a point scale: “Linear” (1/2/3), “Powers of 2” (1/2/4/8), or “Fibonacci” (1/2/3/5/8) • A point is a team-specific metric representing the effort it will take to implement a feature (and risk)
  8. 8. Chores • A chore is a story that is necessary but provides no verifiable business value to the team’s customer • Chores can represent “code debt”, and/or points of dependency on other teams • Chores are not estimated
  9. 9. Bugs • A bug is a story representing a defect, that may be related to a feature story • Bugs are typically only entered for stories that have already been accepted • Bugs are also not estimated
  10. 10. Story Workflow • Developer (or pair) starts next available story in current or backlog • Developer checks in code and finishes the story • Team pushes code for new feature to demo/QA environment, and delivers story • Customer/PM accepts or rejects story • (repeat until backlog empty)
  11. 11. Prioritizing Stories • Position in backlog is priority • Stories are ordered by business value weighed against development risk • Consider dependencies when prioritizing • The next item for team to work on is obvious!
  12. 12. Velocity • At the end of an iteration, accepted stories in current automatically move into “Done” • The project’s velocity is calculated based on point totals from previous iterations • Future iterations are projected based on updated velocity • Velocity can be overridden locally for “what if” scenarios
  13. 13. (demo)
  14. 14. Labels • You can add any number of labels (tags) to a story • Space of labels is per-project • Click on a label to see all stories with that label, or use search • Labels can be used to track related stories, for example a larger feature or theme • Use them for additional process steps, for example “needs design”, or “blocked”
  15. 15. Helpful Features • Search • Saved Search Panels • Panel cloning • My Work • History • Import/Export
  16. 16. Charts • Velocity chart shows project velocity in past iterations • Iteration burn-up shows progress through current iteration • Release burn-down shows progress through chosen release • Story type breakdown shows work on features vs chores and bugs by iteration • Point count breakdown exposes historical process bottlenecks
  17. 17. Multi User • Project page displays changes in real time • (why we get 1000+ requests per second)
  18. 18. Integrations • Drag/drop import and sync of stories from JIRA, Lighthouse, Satisfaction, Zendesk • Campfire and Twitter notifications • SCM post-commit hooks (including Github) • More integrations to come
  19. 19. Developer API • RESTful XML HTTP API • Read/Write access to projects and stories • Activity web hook (push HTTP)
  20. 20. 3rd Party Tools • iPhone and Android clients • Email integration • High level planning (Story Mapper) •
  21. 21. Future • Tools for managing larger projects (drag multiple stories, some form of story group) • Expose release and/or label status outside of project, for management visibility • More integrations • UX/UI overhaul • Custom workflow/acceptance steps
  22. 22. Questions?
  23. 23. Thank You • Chicago Ruby • ThoughtWorks • Jon “Lark” Larkowski (@l4rk) • Wes Maldonado (@wes)
  24. 24. Feedback • Dan Podsedly ( • @pivotaltracker •