Pivotal Tracker Tip: Organizing with Labels

May 3, 2009 Joe Moore

At Pivotal Labs, our clients, customers, and developers love Pivotal Tracker; after all, we wrote it and selfishly kept it to ourselves for 2 years! With that much history, some of our Tracker projects have built up thousands of stories, and keeping these stories organized is a challenge. Luckily, we designed Tracker with a simple yet powerful organizational tool: Labels. Here are some labeling patterns we find useful.

Label Stories with Feature Set Name

How many Stories, Bugs, and Chores make up that big Facebook integration feature set, anyway? Which stories are related to the big UI version 3 update? Simply label everything related to a feature set with an easy-to-remember name. This is especially helpful when different pairs or teams are focused on certain groups of features.

Labels for Features

Bug Priority Labels

It’s true that Tracker doesn’t have the traditional bug categories of P0, P1, P2, to PN. We tend to simply prioritize the most important or critical bugs higher than those less critical, but you can simply create the Labels for bug priorities. That said, there is one Label we almost always create to categorize a subset of bugs — want to guess what it is? If you guessed “ie6” then you feel our pain!

Labels for Bugs

Labels for Communication

We often use labels to communicate the state of a Story beyond it’s delivery status. For example, a Story we don’t understand that was added by a remote project manager can be labeled “needs discussion.” A bug that we can’t duplicate might be labeled as such. Designers will want to know which UI stories “need assets.” Team leads and project managers are especially interested in seeing any Story labeled “blocked.” Of course, Labels are not intended to replace actual person-to-person communication — talk to each other!

Labels for Communication

Watch out for Label Spam

While Labels are a powerful tool to quickly view the state of the world, don’t go too Label crazy. Labels are not intended to be a discussion forum, flame war, or dumping ground for thoughts.

Label Spam

Labels and Saved Searches Panel

The Labels and Saved Searches panel brings this all together; activate it at View => Labels and Searches. A picture’s with a thousand words, so check out the following screenshots to see just how powerful Labels are for organizing your project.

Label Panels

About the Author


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