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The latest news from VSO & TFS shows what a great agile transformation can accomplish.

Last month, Aaron Bjork announced a truckload of new agile and Kanban support coming to Visual Studio Online (VSO) and Team Foundation Server (TFS) in the coming year. My highlights include:

  • Definitions of Done on the Kanban board, something I have been asking for since they launched the boards!
  • Ability to split Kanban columns into doing/done!
  • Swim lanes to visualize different work streams on a single board!
  • Lead time and cycle time metrics!
  • … and loads of little UX and efficiency enhancements.

These new features further professionalize the Visual Studio agile offering and provide wonderfully robust support for teams to actually do Kanban with Microsoft’s tracking tools. It’s great to see the DevDiv team listening to their agile community and incorporating our (your!) feedback.

Perhaps even more excitingly, buried in the expository text at the beginning, Aaron links to another blog post from Brian Harry about the team’s new approach to their delivery timeline. To me, this is the biggest news of all. They’re being transparent about what features are under development, and showing early prototypes for feedback, which is certainly nothing Microsoft has ever been accused of doing previously.

I can’t help but think, what makes all this responsiveness and transparency possible in the first place is the DevDiv’s transition to agile development and continuous delivery themselves. Now that the VSO three-week cadence and accompanying on-prem TFS quarterly update cadence are well-established, they have a high degree of predictability about their ability to deliver new value, and they’re able to make adjustments in response to feedback so they’re always delivering what’s most important to us, their users.

Sam Guckenheimer and Aaron Bjork have both delivered awesome keynotes over the last few years explaining their journey and the choices and challenges they experienced along the way. We heard so many things that were familiar for us and our clients – perhaps you will, too. It’s just exciting to see what that team – so huge, part of such a huge corporation with a not-very-agile culture and tradition, with a codebase we might well consider “legacy” – has been able to accomplish, and these recent announcements are a big part of that. It gives me a lot of hope for the rest of you who struggle to improve your agile and continuous and cloud delivery strategies, too!

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