VSTS Scrum process templates

This post was originally published here.

There have been some rumblings around that some in my company might be interested in Scrum and Team System, so I thought I’d compile a list of Scrum process templates and some highlights (and lowlights).  The three Scrum process templates I’ve found are:

Each process template adds custom work items and reports related to Scrum, but they all have their quirks and niceties.

Scrum for Team System

This process template was originally released a year ago by a company called Conchango.  You can find this template on the Scrum for Team System website at http://www.scrumforteamsystem.com/.  I’ve personally used this template for about 10 months covering about a dozen Sprints.

Pros

  • Great website with thorough process guidance and free training videos
  • Mature, with several updates to the template
  • All sprint artifacts present, with automatic rollup calculations
  • Good reports, including:
    • Sprint Burndown
    • Product Burndown
    • Product Backlog Composition
    • and about a dozen more
  • Portal reports, a set of smaller reports designed for the project SharePoint portal
  • Support through forums
  • Widely adopted
  • Includes tool to update warehouse (critical for up-to-date reports, as Team System only updates the warehouse ever hour or so)

Cons

  • All artifacts created and managed through Visual Studio, which not all team members may have
  • Reports have a lot of custom code, making them difficult to tweak
  • Does not plug in to the Areas and Iterations constructs already present in Team System
  • Only one active project per Team Project
    • i.e., everyone in the same Team Project will use the same sprints, work items, etc. with no good way to partition them
    • This forces every new team to have a new Team Project

Microsoft eScrum

This one was just released from Microsoft, and from the description, looks like it’s been used internally at Microsoft.  I found this on a post on Rob Caron’s blog.  That post links to a download on Microsoft’s downloads site here.  I should note that I tested all of these process templates using a Team System VHD, so I didn’t have to get access to our corporate Team System server.

Pros

  • Fantastic web portal for managing sprints and sprint artifacts.  It’s all Ajax-y too.
    • Pages for managing daily sprints, reports, etc.
  • Context-sensitive help in web portal
  • Dynamic capacity calculations in portal
  • All sprint artifacts present
  • Ability to have multiple “Products” in one Team Project in source control, allowing multiple teams to use Scrum for one Team Project
  • Allows definitions of each role (Project Member, Product Owner, etc.)
  • Some better options on each work item type, such as categories
  • Integrates with Areas and Iterations
    • Areas are Products
    • Iterations are Sprints

Cons

  • New, released only on June 12
  • No support through forums, or anywhere else online (Google only found 2 relevant pages)
  • Painful setup, lots of manual steps
  • Not as many reports (~half a dozen)

VSTS Scrum Process Template from CodePlex

I also found this one on the post on Rob Caron’s blog.  At the bottom of the post, it links to the CodePlex project.  This project was intended to improve on the Scrum for Team System process template by taking advantage of Areas and Iterations.  It’s being developed by a handful of TFS MVP’s.

Pros

  • Lightweight, fits in well with Areas and Iterations
  • Good list of reports, some of them quite different than the other templates
    • Unplanned work
    • Quality Indicators
    • Project Velocity
    • Builds
  • Supports basic Scrum/Agile work items (User Story, Backlog Item, etc.)
  • Custom work item for reviews
  • Open source, so it’s updated frequently

Cons

  • Open source, so don’t look for great support
  • Still in beta
  • Not a lot of people using it
  • No project portal
  • No installer

Summing it up

The Conchango process template is by far the most mature, so I’d usually go with that one, but the awesome portal site and the integration into Areas and Iterations make the eScrum process template a compelling alternative.  As for the CodePlex template, it looks promising, but I’ll reserve judgement until a final version is released.  Doesn’t look ready for prime time quite yet.  The great thing about process templates is that you can edit them after you create the Team Project.  If there’s a report missing you want, it’s pretty easy to look at one of the other process templates and see what others are doing, and add whatever you need.

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About Jimmy Bogard

I'm a technical architect with Headspring in Austin, TX. I focus on DDD, distributed systems, and any other acronym-centric design/architecture/methodology. I created AutoMapper and am a co-author of the ASP.NET MVC in Action books.
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