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Configuring Investment Categories

Investment categories allow you to form an overview of where your time and effort is being spent as an organization.

There's a lot going on all the time in most organizations. But are you spending your time on things that matter? Configuring suitable investment categories helps you find out.

What are investment categories?

Whenever work is completed, it's usually linked to an issue in your issue tracker (e.g. Jira or Linear). This work might be someone merging a pull request, or marking an issue as completed. An investment category captures a subset of this work based on criteria you configure, gives it a name, and makes that categorization available in other parts of the application as a powerful tool for grouping and analysis.

Investment categories are configured in your Organization settings:

customize_categories_framed

Coming up with meaningful categories

Swarmia comes with a few built-in investment categories (shown above), but you may freely add, remove or edit them to fit your ways of working.

You could approach investment categories from different angles, depending on what's most relevant to measure for your organization. Besides just the type of engineering work, you could try grouping work by:

  • Company initiatives
  • Product focus areas
  • R&D Capitalization / R&D expenditure
  • Releases, or a company level roadmap (e.g. "Q3")

Filtering issues

To tell Swarmia which issues belong to which category, you define an issue filter. There are several filters you can choose from, including:

  • Projects
  • Issue types
  • Issue keys
  • Team ownership
  • Issue tracker labels

Your filter might be as simple as this:

But reality is often a bit messier. In a large organization, each team might have their own little quirks in how they track their work. For instance, let's say most teams use Epics and Stories for Roadmap work... but some also use specific labels for that purpose, and one team stubbornly wants to use their custom Jira issue type.

No problem:

Categorizing pull requests

Not all work is visible on the issue tracker, however. It's common for developers to just create pull requests for things where it feels like it would take too much time to create an issue for the small task at hand, and link your pull request to that issue. In reality, such unplanned work may add up to a significant portion of engineering effort in your organization.

Swarmia helps you take this kind of work into account, by allowing developers to assign unlinked pull requests directly to applicable investment categories. For each investment category, there's a checkbox allowing you to select if you'd like to allow categorizing pull requests to it:

categorize_pr_into

This allows you to categorize unlinked pull requests to these categories from the Pull Requests view with just a few clicks. For teams that are using the pull request linking working agreement, they can also do it right from Slack:

slack_categorize_pr

Overlapping categories

Often investment categories are configured so that work is assigned to exactly one category, or left uncategorized. But you're also allowed to assign specific work to multiple categories.

Let's say you want to dig deeper into how your organization spends time on fixing bugs, and which kinds of bugs specifically. You could set up 2 additional investment categories as follows:

This allows you to analyze how your investments into these categories have evolved over time. But it also means that, for example, in the Investment Distribution view, some work will be counted twice: once in the "Bugs" category and once in the "Bugs - Customer" category.