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What differentiates TFS and VSTS from many other products is the fact that it is an integrated toolset which funnels data into a single data warehouse which allows for the silent gathering of metrics around your software development process.  Unfortunately, many organizations using TFS want to use the metrics and reports but push off spending the time to understand or even look at the built in reports.  Beyond the issue of time, many organizations run into problems after customizing their process template and work item definitions which usually results in breaking the built in reports.  This is a result of the TFS reports being hard coded to expect specific work items states and for specific states to be in a specific order.

Here is a list of useful links for getting started with TFS reporting and how to fix or get around some of the problems with customized work items.

  • Ben Day has a blog post covering the modifications needed on the Remaining Work report to show an additional state.
  • Our own Steven Borg has posted a video demonstrating the creation of the Remaining Work report within Excel which provides an easy mechanism for adding additional states.
  • A great list of links for more videos and reference material was also compiled on the Team WIT Tools blog.

However, a problem still exists as knowing how to technically create reports only removes the knowledge barrier and leaves the more difficult barrier of knowing what metrics are important.  The metrics that each organization need to focus on can very greatly but you always need to start somewhere.  You also need to set a baseline of your current status before you start any process improvement initiative in order to measure for successful and unsuccessful changes.  A great way to start is with an ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) Assessment as it will point out where the main problem areas lie so that you can then focus your gathering of metrics on those areas.

This is really just a starting point for TFS reporting as well as the overall initiative of process improvement within your organization and in the upcoming weeks I will continue to discuss the metrics that are available out of the box with TFS and how to get to them within your reports.

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