How Microsoft/DevDiv uses TFS – Chapter 4

In the previous posts, I spoke about how we used TFS to implement the process.

In this post, I'll talk about how we went about planning a release.

On the feature record, we had a "Planning" tab:


Zooming in a bit:


What we did is have people enter an estimated cost for each feature in the work item. Then we pulled them into a stack-ranking spreadsheet that looked like this:


This is a TFS-bound Excel spreadsheet with some formatting options. Note the following:

  1. The ballpark estimates (and all the other data) are pulled directly from TFS. This was great, because all the estimates were entered separately, but could be pulled into a single place for planning

  2. We stack-ranked all the features, top-to-bottom.

  3. We added some logic to the spreadsheet to compare total cost with team capacity. Teams turned yellow if they used up more than 70% of their capacity, and turned red if they used up over 100%.

This gave us a very quick view of what could and could not be done, without a lot of work or schedule-crunching. It helped us determine where the cut-line was, and we played around by moving certain features up and down, to get a line we felt comfortable with. For example, some larger features were just moved down, simply because it allowed several smaller, key features to be above the cut-line.

Honestly, after a while, it felt like a video game. We called it the yellow/red game, because it was a trick to see how far we could push down the yellow and red! 🙂

Next post: How we tracked progress

Comments (11)
  1. 先月より、Teams WIT Tools という TFS の開発チーム(主に WIT: Work Item Tracking)のブログにて、開発部門での Team Foundation Server の活用について投稿されています。

  2. .NETicated says:

    MVP Summit MVP Summit 2008, Seattle Day +1 on Grant Holliday's blog MVP Summit 2008, Seattle Day

  3. Подгруппа разработчиков Visual Studio Team System, работающая над отслеживанием рабочих элементов в TFS,

  4. Alex Odintsov says:


    Did I miss "How we tracked progress" part?

    Are you still working on it?

    People are waiting 🙂

    thanks for those great articles! huge help for us!!!!


    Your video on channel9, those reports that you showed, are they done on Orcas or Rosario? How did you guys managed to capture the progress of a tasks? did you add some kind of "Work" field that developers use to report how much time they spent? What is reqiored to build those fantastic reports? Can I build something like with TFS 2008?

  5. erik steiner says:


    thanks for the insights into your usage of TFS!

    The planning practice seems quite sound to me. It would be great if you could shed some light on the following questions, too:

    – The columns containing the sum of the individual team members effort seem not to be synchronized with TFS. How do you calculate these?

    – How do you define the rank-value? Is it calculated or is it just put in and left space for "moving" up and down?

    I am looking forward to your next article!


  6. V-Ness on Customizing Work Items in Visual Studio. The VS Team Architect Blog on Rosario April CTP. The…

  7. Kes veel ei tea, siis Workitem Tracking vahendite meeskond Visual Studio Team System -i arendusmeeskonnas

  8. Guino says:

    Hay una serie interesante de posts que nos explican de que modo la Division de Desarrollo de Microsoft

  9. A good read: Applying Value Up at Microsoft by Sam Guckenheimer (also available as 60-minute-webcast

  10. Part of my job is evangelizing Team Foundation Server adoption within Microsoft. A colleague recently

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