In this blogpost, I want to talk a little bit about how Team Foundation Server can help you to support your Kanban Process. We will use the Practical Kanban Guidance from the ALM Rangers, where I am also a part of the team. I will talk about the the process template requirements and how to get started.
First of all, really short: what is Kanban? Well, Kanban is a method to visualize the development work flow and the work in progress. Kanban has 5 principles:
- Visualize the workflow
- Limit WIP
- Manage the flow of work
- Make process policies explicit
- Improve collaboratively
Using these aspects, you can highlight any bottlenecks in the development process. You have a visual overview of the things which are happening in your team, so you can guide it. Perhaps change the process, change the WIP limits, ..
As you know, the way TFS supports your development process is defined by a process template. This is a collection of files that together define various process elements of a team project. There are a number of requirements that need to be satisfied to allow teams to get the most out of a Kanban-enabled process template for Team Foundation Server.
1. The process template should make it easy to modify the states in the process flow: Kanban is about continuous improvement. During the life of a project a team may wish to modify their flow, adding or removing states. Therefore the process template should make it easy to add and remove states in the process flow.
2. The process template should allow Work In Progress limits to be represented and reported on: One of the few fundamental concepts in Kanban is to limit the amount of work in progress (WIP). This means that the process template should allow us to specify a WIP limit for each state in the lifecycle of a card.
3. The process template should allow each state in the process flow to have an In Progress and Done sub-state: The process template should allow for In Progress and Done sub-states and report on WIP limits across the two sub-states.
4. The process template should support arbitrary state transitions: Kanban is not a software development method and does not dictate anything about how a team should implement its process. Therefore a card should be allowed to be moved into any Kanban state from any other Kanban state.
5. The process template should support hosted Team Foundation Server instances: To give teams maximum flexibility, a Kanban-enabled process template should not require project collection administration rights to make changes such as the states in the process flow and WIP limits.
6. The process template should include a Cumulative Flow Diagram Report and a Kanban Board: It has to be easy to see when bottlenecks are occurring, in which state the cards are, what’s the cycle time,..
Microsoft Kanban 1.0
Based on those requirements, the ALM Rangers came up with a brand new process template called: Microsoft Kanban 1.0. This is a flexible process template allowing you to easily adapt your Kanban process on Team Foundation Server. You can download the process template here, including all documentation and guidance you need.
In a next post, I will explain how the process template actually works and how you can use it. But first, let’s take a look how you can install this process template. Once you have downloaded the bits (both Team Foundation Server 2010 and 2012 are supported), you need to upload it to Team Foundation Server, so that you can create a new Team Project based on that template.
1. Open Visual Studio (we will use 2012, but it’s quite similar on 2010), go to ‘Team Explorer’, click ‘Settings – Process Template Manager’, there you click ‘Upload’ and locate the folder with the process template. I will use ‘Microsoft Kanban 1.0 – dev11’, because I’m using TFS 2012.
2. After the upload is complete, you should now see ‘Microsoft Kanban 1.0’ in the list of process templates.
3. Now create a new Team Project using this process template. In Team Explorer, go to ‘Projects and My Teams -> New Team Project‘. Complete the wizard and select the Kanban process template:
4. That’s it. You have a Team Project based on the Microsoft Kanban 1.0 process template. If you open your Team Explorer, go to Work Items and you can start creating cards (based on the Card Work Item Type) and model your process (based on the Process Step Work Item Type).
More in-depth information about how to use the process template will follow in a next post. I will also talk about ‘the Global List Synchronizer’, who will be responsible for the synchronization of process steps.
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