Coming soon: We are introducing a fresh new look for record drawer and details pages on September 30, 2020. This article describes the current experience. Preview the upcoming improvements in your account now so you can get familiar with the new way of working in Aha!
Initiatives are high-level efforts that help you achieve your goals. Adding initiatives to Aha! helps you weave the "thread of strategy" throughout your roadmapping process. Every release you plan will have a purpose of driving towards one or more of your initiatives. Releases, epics, and features can be directly linked to the initiative they impact. Linking the work to initiatives ensures that your team is delivering what matters.
Initiatives are often achievable within 3-12 months, but can sometimes be longer term. You can create them at any level in your hierarchy and roll them up from the workspace to company level. To use a product management example, your "Expand into China" initiative at the workspace level may take 12 months, but it is rolled up to the "Expand internationally" initiative at the product line level — which may take multiple years to fulfill.
Note: This article refers to releases and features. Depending on your workspace type, you may see "schedules" and “activities" in your workspace.
Click any of the following links to skip ahead:
- Ways to use initiatives
- Create an initiative
- Set time frames for your initiatives
- Add estimates to your initiatives
- Link an existing initiative to a goal
- Link an initiative to a release
- Link an initiative to a feature
- Calculate initiative dates
- The initiatives workflow board
- Chart and compare initiatives
Ways to use initiatives
After you create initiatives, you can use them to:
- Track and share initiatives with your team and key stakeholders using Aha! presentations.
- Explain the relative value and effort of each initiative by manually dragging them to the chart on the Strategy > Initiatives page.
- Based on relative value and effort, you can rank or order them within the list, and the Initiative Rank can be exposed as an attribute in the Reporting area. You can show your progress by setting it from the Progress dropdown next to the initiative below the chart.
Create an initiative
Follow these steps to create a new initiative.
- Go to Strategy > Initiatives.
- Click Add initiative and then enter the initiative name and a description.
- To roll it up to an initiative at the parent-line level, select a parent line from the Roll up to parent line initiative dropdown.
- To link the initiative to a goal, select a goal from the Link initiative to goals dropdown.
- Fill in any of the other fields on this initiative that interest you, then, click Assigned to to assign your new initiative to the person who will be responsible for it. The releases, epics, and features linked to this initiative can all have different assignees, of course — your initiative's assignee is the person ultimately responsible for its progress.
Note: Initiatives are included on the My work page, in addition to releases, features, to-dos, and ideas.
Set time frames for your initiatives
Time frames allow teams focusing on strategic planning to group their goals and initiatives based on the time frame associated with their strategic execution.
This is especially important for teams that kick off the year with strategic plans divided into quarterly or half-year objectives. It allows the team to plan out their year-long strategy upfront. Then they can group related goals and initiatives together in the time frames they will be delivered in for easy reporting and filtering across the application.
To keep the list of available time frames organized and current, you can merge or archive time frames. When you archive a time frame, any initiatives associated with it are hidden from the list of available initiatives. But don't worry — these records are not deleted and you can always use reports and roadmaps to examine them again.
Note: To create, merge, or archive a time frame, navigate to Settings ⚙️ > Account > Configure time frames. You need to be an administrator with customization permissions to do this.
To add a time frame to an initiative:
- Open the details for that initiative, either through the Detail view or by opening the initiative's detail drawer in the Chart view.
- Click the Time frame field to open the Time frame dropdown.
- Select the appropriate time frame.
Add estimates to your initiatives
If you have enabled capacity planning in your workspace, you can add time- or point-based estimates to initiatives. You can click the Log time or Log field to adjust your estimate, and you can analyze your team's capacity to complete your initiative on the capacity report.
Link an existing initiative to a goal
While initiatives can be independent entities, you can link them to goals when they drive the team to achieve that objective.
For example, your goal may be to become the #1 mobile app in your market. You can link initiatives related to enhancing your iOS and Android apps directly to that objective. You may also have a goal at a parent-line level above that. If enhancing your mobile apps will impact that goal, you can link those initiatives to the parent-line goal as well.
Follow these steps to link an existing initiative to a goal.
- Go to Strategy > Initiatives. (You can also link them from the Strategy > Goals page.)
- Click on an initiative to open the details card.
- Click in the Goals field on the right and then select goals that are at the same level or higher in the workspace hierarchy.
Link an initiative to a release
You can also link initiatives to releases. By considering which initiatives (and goals) a release impacts, you can identify what does and does not matter. Clearly defined initiatives keep the team on track and enable you to tell key stakeholders why your plan is the best strategy.
- Select Releases > Overview.
- Click on a release to open the details card and then click in the Initiatives field.
- Select one or more releases from the dropdown.
- Click X to close the details card and save your changes.
Note: Linked records in Aha! do not inherit any links from each other. For example, linking an initiative to a release will not link any features associated with that release to back to the initiative. Read this article if you also want to link goals to releases or other Aha! records.
Link an initiative to a feature
Linking features to initiatives allows you to show the strategic importance behind why features are being prioritized.
- Go to Features > Board.
- Click on a feature to open the details card and then click in the Initiative field.
- When prompted, choose one of the following:
- Select an initiative from the dropdown.
- Select Add initiative, enter the appropriate information and then click Create initiative.
Note: Linked records in Aha! do not inherit any links from each other. For example, linking an initiative to a feature will not link any goals associated with that initiative down to the feature. Read this article if you also want to link goals to features or other Aha! records.
Calculate initiative dates
You can link multiple record types to initiatives, as we've just discussed: features, epics, releases, and even other initiatives that have rolled up from a workspace to a parent line. In addition to using these links to show the progress of your work as it progresses, you can calculate an initiative's Start date and End date from those linked records.
To do this, open an initiative, then select the appropriate calculation from the dropdown underneath its dates. Your choices are:
- Enter manually
- Calculate from child initiatives
- Calculate from releases
- Calculate from features and epics
If an initiative is set to calculate its dates from child records, and one of those records' dates change in a way that affects the initiative's dates (even through an integration), the initiative's dates will update automatically. If an initiative is set to calculate its dates from child records, and the initiative doesn't have any child records, its dates will remain blank.
Note: If an integration updates an initiative's Start date or End date, the calculation type will change back to Enter manually, and updates to child records' dates that you make in Aha! will not update the initiative.
Change initiative views
Use the Change view type dropdown to switch between several common views while retaining any filters you have added.
Note: Filters you add yourself will transfer to a new view. Page filters — filters associated with the original view that cannot be removed — will not appear on the new view.
Your View type options are:
- Details: A list of all your initiatives, expanded to include their details.
- Chart: A grid to help you visualize and compare your initiatives to each other based on the metrics you select.
- Workflow: A kanban-style view of your initiatives, epics, features, and requirements.
- Roadmap: The strategy roadmap is one of the most useful ways to visualize the progress of your epics and features.
The initiatives workflow board
To view your initiatives in a kanban-style board, select the Workflow view from the Change view type dropdown. The workflow view offers a way to help you easily move, compare, and prioritize initiatives across your organization.
- To move initiatives between statuses, drag an initiative card from one status column to another.
- To set a custom rank for your initiatives, drag and drop them into the order that reflects their priority. The order you select here will be visible to everyone who can view your initiatives board, so that everyone has the same context on your strategic goals.
Use the Customize view icon to configure the initiative cards or statuses that appear on the board.
Chart and compare initiatives
To view your initiatives in a matrix, select the Chart view from the Change view type dropdown. You can visualize your initiatives on the chart to help you better understand which initiatives to pursue. Drag your initiatives on the chart to compare them as they relate to one another in the context of your goals or your workspace.
You can also customize the text to use terminology that fits how you want to map them. Click on the default labels and axis values on the grid to edit them. Then type in the new value or metric.
Once you have your chart set, it's time to share it. Use these options to share your initiatives chart with your stakeholders.
- To fold your initiatives chart into a presentation, select Add to presentation from the Share menu in the upper right. In your presentation you can select the report's update frequency.
- For a static version of your initiatives chart, Export it to PNG image or PDF document from that same Share menu.
- To analyze your initiatives chart further, add the Initiative chart metrics as fields in list reports, pivot tables, and charts.