A critical factor to a project or a sprint's successful completion is finishing all the tasks on time. Seems straightforward and simple? Yes, it is but it becomes exponentially harder to track as your team gets bigger or when your project starts getting complex with multiple checkpoints/deadlines.

1. What if your project management system could track this for you?

2. What if your teammates were reminded in advance about tasks that were going to be delayed?

3. What if your project management system could predict delays and suggest new deadlines for tasks?

Sounds like something straight out of science fiction or like the pre-crime detection from Minority Report? Yes, it is. Except for the fact that it is now possible for real in Freshrelease.

Enter delay prediction - the feature that would do all this for you automatically.

How does it work?

To predict if an item is going to be delayed or not, Freshrelease looks at 2 vectors.

1. The planned start and end dates of an item.

2. The planned effort for every stage/status the item needs to go through for completion.

Let's dive into each of these and see how it works.

Predicting delays using the planned start date

1. If an item fails to move to one of the "work in progress" category statuses on or before the planned start date, the item would be flagged as delayed.

2. Now, if this item also had a planned end date, Freshrelease can factor in the number of days elapsed to start and predict the actual end date.

This is predicted end date is shown as a suggestion in the Progress Pulse section of every delayed item.

Predicting delays using the planned end date

If an item fails to move to one of the "completed" category statuses on or before the planned end date, the item would be flagged as delayed.

ProTip - End date is automatically set for items when they are added to a sprint. The sprint's end date becomes the item's end date if it didn't already have one.

Predicting delays at every stage/status of an item

Remember sprint capacity planning? - the feature that helps your teams easily see how much work can each of each team member can take for a given sprint and also see overloads if there are any? If you didn't know about this, please do give it a shot. We think your teams will absolutely like it.

As part of sprint capacity planning, your teammates can say how much time they would need to get an item across a particular stage/status. For example, 4 days for "In progress", 2 days for "Review".

Once you do this, Freshrelease can keep track of the actual amount of time the item spends in each of these statuses and can flag delays if any. 

ProTip - The owner of the status that is about to be delayed is also notified via email so that he/she can update the status if work is already done.

Factoring in buffer time and being pro-people

There could be cases where the duration of an item is for 10 days but the effort to complete is much lesser than that. This is more common in cases where items need to be handed over from one department to another and teams usually give a few days of buffer during planning. In cases like this, things don't always move like clockwork because hey we are human and sometimes miss things. 

So how does Freshrelease predict delays in this case and at the same time, not flag items as delayed?

Let's consider an example,

1. Start and end date of an item are Jan 1st and Jan 10th respectively

2. The total effort for the item (by adding up all status level efforts) is 5 days.

Assume the item hasn't moved to "in progress" till Jan 5th. In this case, Freshrelease wouldn't pre-maturely mark the item as delayed but wait until Jan 6th because Freshrelease knows that the team would need only 5 days to complete an item even though it has been planned for 10 days.

In the same example, if the team had completed the item or made a lot of progress by Jan 5th, then Freshrelease would actually mark the item as "Ahead" of its end date.

Keeping the team regularly updated about the status of items in their sprint (Daily overview)

If your team uses sprints to manage work, then each of your teammates would get an overview email about what's happening in your sprint every day at the beginning of your workday. This email would cover topics like,

1. List of delayed items in your sprint.

2. List of items that are on track.

3. List of items that were completed in the last 24 hours.

The emails will be sent to your team from the 1st day of your sprint until its completion so that everyone is kept update on where things stand. If you do daily stand-ups, these emails serve as a bulletin for everyone before they attend it.

ProTip - You can manage your workday and workweek settings from Project Settings > General.

Keeping the team regularly updated on the overall project progress (Weekly overview)

The roadmap module in your projects allows you to plan at all the big moving parts in your project and sort of serves as a dashboard for your team. If any of the items under a roadmap item is delayed, then the corresponding roadmap item is also marked as delayed. To keep everyone on the team informed about these events, Freshrelease also sends a weekly overview email on the first day of your workweek. This email would cover topics like,

1. List of delayed items on your roadmap.

2. List of items that are on track.

3. List of roadmap items that were completed in the last week.

If you have any questions about this feature or would like to tell us how we can improve it, let us know here. :) We are all ears for feedback.

Note: Delay prediction is available only to the users who are on the PRO plan of Freshrelease