Technology Toolbox

Your technology Sherpa for the Microsoft platform

Jeremy Jameson - Founder and Principal

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Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is a continuous process involving all aspects of software development -- including gathering business and technical requirements, planning and architecture, implementation, testing, project tracking, change management, and release management.

In the past, creating and managing software solutions required teams to use a variety of tools and processes that were often loosely integrated or, worse, completely disconnected from each other. For example, testers often tracked bugs and issues using Excel spreadsheets or a simple Web application, and developers would subsequently reference these sources in order to resolve them.

Using a multitude of tools and processes -- within and across roles -- inherently impedes a software project. The velocity of the team is significantly reduced due to a variety of factors. For example, team members often perform non-value added activities like manually extracting and aggregating data from various sources in order to communicate project status to management.

Implementing an effective ALM solution removes inefficiencies in the development process and substantially reduces the complexity and risks in delivering technology solutions. By increasing team collaboration and productivity, application lifecycle management dramatically improves project success rates and helps avoid unexpected costs due to schedule overruns, poor software quality, and lack of effective change management.

Team Foundation Server

Team Foundation Server (TFS) is Microsoft's core platform for application lifecycle management. It provides fundamental services such as work item tracking, version control, and build automation. TFS includes dashboards and flexible reporting capabilities that provide visibility into the overall project health, while promoting greater transparency regarding potential problems.

However, while making the decision to adopt TFS is a great first step, it does not immediately enable your organization to realize the full potential of application lifecycle management.

Technology Toolbox provides a variety of offerings to help your plan, deploy, and optimize Team Foundation Server:

  • Assessment
  • TFS Pilot
  • Workshops

Assessment

We recommend starting with an assessment of your current processes and tools in order to provide a roadmap for successfully migrating or upgrading to Team Foundation Server 2010. By first understanding the maturity of your software development organization, we can identify the "low hanging fruit" for improving the predictability and success of your software projects in the short term, while also providing recommendations for improving efficiency over the longer term.

Team Foundation Server Pilot

Regardless of whether you are upgrading from a previous version of TFS or migrating from a different toolset, we recommend installing TFS 2010 in a lab environment to understand the various capabilities and gain valuable hands-on experience using real world scenarios.

For example, using a lab environment, we can show you how to quickly implement an automated daily build and deployment process -- or continuous integration, if you prefer -- that incorporates best practices like incrementing assembly versions with each build. A lab environment is also ideal for understanding and evaluating different branching strategies and other aspects of source control management.

Once you are ready for a production deployment, we can help you migrate a real project in order to verify the solution and document the governance of your TFS deployment going forward.

Workshops

If you already have TFS installed, Technology Toolbox can deliver a variety of workshops to increase your knowledge of specific ALM techniques. For example, your team may be looking for ways to work more effectively in parallel on multiple versions of your solution (in other words, creating new features and enhancements for vNext while also implementing hotfixes for the current release). We provide focused two-day workshops that cover this scenario and many others.

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