Projects’ detailed planning phase: why TFS

In this post I will continue to speak about project management and how TFS helps me handling it. I’ve started from Project Kick-off meeting, then we have created branches for project’s code and reserved iterations for development and testing.

Now we are ready for Detailed Planning phase. Still we are not going to code, TFS can be very useful on this phase. The result of detailed planning phase is preparation of the following documents (I underline those where TFS can be used):

  1. Application Design including
    1. User stories,
    2. Requirements.
  2. Risk Assessment.
  3. Project Management Plan – the main document that includes results of previous documents and is signed of by project sponsor and key project stakeholders.

Some time ago I was performing these activities in Excel spreadsheets, but have migrated some of them into TFS and planning to do the same for the rest. Why? I’ve got several reasons:

  1. In excel all records are lines, but sometimes it is more comfortable to present risk as a form, not line. Also in excel it is not comfortable to format multi line points. In any way lists of work items can be modified in excel – so we’re getting only advantages and can always go back.
  2. In work item you can create status matrix with some restrictions and auto fill of fields. This is done quickly with no hard coding. In excel this is impossible.
  3. You can join attachments and links to work items. This is very useful as you can easily join a mail to risk with actions done in accordance with contingency plan. Or attach a link to detailed description of mitigation plan. In excel this cannot be done.
  4. You can join other work items to risk, user story of requirement. E.g. to track how developers deal with task to create business requirement or to reduce the influence of the risk.
  5. Then you get access to powerful mechanism of TFS reports. You can create any reports you need for team and customers using all described above features of TFS.
  6. And on top of that you have everything in you database. This is not single file that must be found and opened – you get access to everything through team queries where you can unit different work items from different team projects and filter them as you need. As a result you have a great knowledge base. As due to e.g. PMBOK, almost every document is created using historical information and lessons learnt, TFS opportunity of storing all information about previous projects must not be underestimated. Moreover this is really great as nothing can be lost.

To sum up, I’m really glad to have such powerful tool in IT project management and in the next posts I’m going to center on work items of detailed planning phase: Risk, Requirement and User story.

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