Visual Studio ALM Rangers Transparency – Clarifying the processes: Projects (Part 1)

This post is primarily intended for all Visual Studio ALM Rangers, serving as a reference point that is literally accessible anywhere in the world. It should, however, be interesting for anyone in the community who interacts with ALM Ranger teams or uses ALM Ranger solutions.

ACTION: I need “you” to give us candid feedback, so that we can make “your” ALM Rangers experience a productive and fun experience!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The dashboard being discussed is only accessible by ALM Rangers. We are, however, trying to be transparent with our discussions and would also value your feedback if you are not (yet) an ALM Ranger.

Most importantly, why are we making changes?

Anyone who joined the ALM Rangers and has “hit the ground running” will realize that the “ramp-up” appears like the Swiss Alps or the Rockies out of nowhere. While our Wiki has served us well, explosive growth and continuous polishing of processes and infrastructure has resulted in a web of information.

Here are some common thoughts that have run through many of our minds:PPP_PRD_053_3D_people-Question_Mark

  • Where do I start?
  • What is expected of me?
  • What should I be focusing on?
  • Perhaps the best is to sit back and wait to get the magic instructions?
  • … there is worse, which is best deleted from this post 🙂

The infrastructure workgroup consisting of seven non-MSFT ALM Rangers and one MSFT ALM Ranger have been discussing and experimenting with many ideas to reduce the noise, bring back razor-sharp focus and allow the ALM Rangers to invest their precious and scarce spare time in projects, not looking for information.

The ALM Rangers dashboard has, since yesterday, got a new experimental look-and-feel. To re-iterate … we need your candid feedback to determine if this experiment is worth pursuing.

Our Dashboard has a new (Metro-style) Experiment #1


As shown above, our dashboard has a new Metro-style look and feel. We are planning to create up to (and no more) than seven tiles, which are intended for the ALM Rangers to take quick action or to zoom into a specific ALM Rangers process topic.

  1. A small joke, that has probably gone unnoticed on our portal to most. There is no place like … Home 🙂
  2. Do you have a question, an issue, an impediment or simply want to chat to the Support Team? If yes, click on the HELP tile.
  3. Do you want to understand what your responsibilities are as part of an ALM Ranger project or understand the project flow? If yes, click on PROJECT tile.

PROJECT tile –> PROJECT quick reference sheet – Experiment #2

When you click on the PROJECT tile you are beamed over to our next experiment, for which we do not yet have a name. Quick reference sheet, quick reference poster, desk sheet and other terms are raising their heads in discussions. Perhaps you have a cool name?

Note that the diagram & information below has not been reviewed and is missing information (*TBD* = to be defined). It should, however, give you an idea of what we are trying to achieve. For the visual ALM Rangers, like myself, we have the diagram and information on the project stakeholders and their roles.


Stepping through the PROJECT sheet

  1. The bi-annual submit your ideas, then vote on top 20 and then stack rank the overall top 20 process, which was very labour intensive, is gone. We are using a UserVoice forum where ALM Rangers submit ideas and vote throughout the year and at any given instance, we can peek in and see what the top issues and ideas are. By the way, the (currently) top three ideas for future ALM Ranger projects are:
  2. To submit an idea or vote on existing ideas, click the URL. Simple.
  3. Whenever the ALM Rangers are ready for more projects, the stakeholders get together and triage the ideas from the ALM Ranger community and the fires from the product group. Trying get synergy between these two worlds was discussed in Program Management – Are some of the imageALM Rangers Symbiotic PM’s?.
  4. The Epics (killer features) for the selected projects are then defined by the stakeholders, whereby the Epics are owned by the Product Owner.
  5. The project is then started in a “kick-off” meeting which all ALM Rangers can (should) attend to understand the scope, the intent and to make a decision whether the project is suitable as their next adventure.
  6. The first few days/weeks are typically invested in infrastructure, “Ruck” and technology training to get everyone into the same movie.
  7. You can then click (simple) and zoom into the relevant project type, whereby we are currently working on sheets for Guidance and for Tooling projects. See next blog post 🙂
  8. Once we “ship” a project, we get together for a project post-mortem to learn, to adapt and to decide whether we need another version of the project. If yes, go to step 9.
  9. Project are not automatically restarted. You need to raise another idea in UserVoice and ensure that the ALM Rangers community votes for your idea … if not, the project goes into maintenance mode and is eventually retired.
  10. The sheet also summarises the core responsibilities of the Project Lead, the Project Owner, the Program Manager (who is typically part of the support team) and the Mentor. What about the Project Member, the contributor … read about it in the next associated blog post.
  11. Clicking on the Guidance Project – Process & Checklist hyperlink, or on the GUIDANCE tile, will take you to our next topic, which we will cover in Part 2 of this series.

Those that got annoyed by having to scroll up to the diagram, while reading the notes, should have seen the value of consolidating the visual diagram, core information and stakeholder responsibilities on one single sheet of paper, or this case vPaper.

What do you think"? Add your thoughts as comments or email me direct.

See you soon.

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