Tracking team’s work with Azure DevOps

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Tracking your team’s work with Azure DevOps can be very productive. Here we explain some concepts that will help you understand how this tool functions.

Microsoft Azure DevOps, previously known as Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS), is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, which helps software development teams in building, testing, and deploying applications. It contains five major services: Source Control, Testing, Pipelines, Artifacts, and Work Item Tracking, which give the teams the necessary tools to complete the entire Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) of the project.

After many years of using it at Hexacta, we have seen excellent results in the productivity of our teams and in the quality of products that are built. Thanks to this, we really recommend this tool for your development teams.

Content related: Devops: a cultural change to achieve agility

Tracking team’s work

One of the great advantages of this platform is the ability to track and manage the work of your teams.

It is easy to start with and have an excellent user experience which your teams will enjoy. However, the configuration piece can be a bit overwhelming. There are too many concepts and relationships to learn, and it is easy to get lost.

With this article, we hope to help you with that. In this infographic, we explain the model of Work Item Tracking in Azure DevOps. If you are familiar with Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD), this will make a lot of sense to you. Even though the Microsoft documentation for this platform is great and has a lot of information, we were not able to find this type of explanation of the Work Item Tracking model. This is our humble contribution to the community by filling that gap.

Remember that you will need at least some basic knowledge/experience in the concepts below to better understand them. If you don’t have it, we recommend just playing a bit with the tool to gain your own knowledge. Do not forget that you can create an account for free.

The big picture first

  • In a Microsoft Azure DevOps subscription, you can have one or many Team Projects.
  • The five major services of Azure DevOps are linked to the Team Projects.
  • A Team Project could contain one or many Teams. The Team concept helps you organize the tasks of a group of people working in a specific area of your organization.
  • One question that might appear is, “Should I create a Team Project for each of my Teams or should I have one Team Project with many Teams inside?” There are pros and cons for each way, but Microsoft recommends the second.

The entities and relationships in the work item tracking model

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Diagram work item tracking model azuredevops

Here are some tips to help you understand this graphic.

  • At the subscription level, you will have a list of available templates.
  • When you create a Team Project, you choose one template to define your Process.
  • The Process defines the work item types and the backlog levels that you will have.
  • At the Team Project level, you define which areas and iterations your teams will use.
  • Both areas and iterations are defined in a hierarchical structure, like a tree of a parent and child’s nodes.
  • When you create a Team inside a Team Project, you need to define which subset of areas and which subset of iterations that particular Team will work on. This is something important because that defines what that team will be able to see in their boards.
  • Each team will have two boards: the Sprint board and the Kanban board.
  • The Sprint board will show all iteration level work item types, which are in the current iteration of the team and are in one of the areas assigned to the team. For its part, the Kanban board shows all active work items of a given level (portfolio or requirements), which are in one of the areas assigned to the team.

You can complement this diagram with this glossary

To Sum Up

Tracking your work using a tool like Azure DevOps will give your teams a better organization that will end up in an increase in productivity and quality. By better understanding the concepts and relationships explained in this article, we hope you will be much more prepared to configure the tool to fit the need of your development teams.

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