Team Foundation Server on Windows Azure … Rucking along and visualizing the good, the bad and the ugly

In Team Foundation Server on Windows Azure: A Rangers dog fooding perspective we introduced our dog fooding of the TFS Preview and the agile planning, which we use in conjunction with our Ruck process.

I have literally fallen in love Red heart with the board, because it allows us to have effective stand-up meetings and decide (at a glance) what the state of the project most likely is, before having to ask any questions. The visual indicator are immensely valuable, allowing for effective and pro-active planning. As highlighted we notice at a glance that we have more available bandwidth than work, but we can also spot that two team members are potentially overloaded.


Have a look at a few examples of burn down charts which I have pulled from our projects at random and decide for yourself if the board does not give you an immediate “gut feel” indicator. Each row shows one or two extracts from a project … with my personal reaction comments at the end Punk

1 evidence_2.1 evidence_2.2
2 evidence_3.1 evidence_3.2
3 evidence_4.1 evidence_4.2
4 evidence_5.1 evidence_5.2
5 evidence_6.1
6 evidence_7.1 evidence_7.2

Personal Smile|Disappointed smile|Sad smile|Steaming mad status feeling and observations:

  1. SmileHappy Team: Fairly good progress, with a small bit of carry-over of incomplete tasks in the first of two sample sprints.
  2. Disappointed smilePanicking Team: the first sample sprint is completed after what looks like a last minute panic attack and weekend death march.
  3. Sad smileOverambitious Team: both sprints show a burn down, but both illustrate a team that has scheduled more work than can be completed.
                Ruck Master or Rangers mentoring needed!
  4. Steaming madMysterious Team: a typical example of a flat-lined burn down, showing a lack of progress and/or update of status. Comatose team and project status.
                Ruck Master investigation needed!
  5. SmileCalm Team: although the actual progress is less than the ideal trend, the progress appears consistent.
  6. Steaming madTabletop Team: did the team complete the sprint backlog at the last minute or was the backlog moved to the next sprint? Again the progress is flat lined … worrying. Do we have a comatose team and/or bogus project status? Ruck Master investigation needed!

Generally what we find is that getting team members to update their status is like collecting taxes. Our Ruck Master and most of the project lead mentors feel like Status Vaders, haunting the project leads and indirectly the team members to spend a few seconds every other day to update their status. At this stage we still have a long way to go, even though the tools make is very, very easy … we are busy pondering over the why do we have this overwhelming garbage-in scenario and how to address it. As covered in Visual Studio ALM Rangers - Reflections on Virtual Teams we operate in challenging distributed, virtual and part-time ecosystems, making the creation of a regular rhythm, (velocity) and predictable a difficult challenge. If we were able to literally have an eye-eye stand-up as a team regularly, the graphs above would probably look very different.

Your ideas and suggestions are most welcome as always!

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