Managing Projects using Visual Studio 2005 Team System

Managing the software projects is a tedious task. Quite often you can find gaps between the actual customer requirements and the work that is done by the development team. Communication between the teams and the collaboration work are very poor without proper tools for managing them. Any change to the requirement could not be implemented easily as the team has to know the process related to that particular project, if they are assigned too many different projects.

If proper tools are not available for getting the metrics of the projects, the project lead will be spending a lot of time getting that information from different tools and creating the report. This is a tedious and this work takes a lot of time spent by the project lead. Hence the project lead is not able to manage the risks of the project.

With the project management tools of Visual Studio 2005 Team System the project manager can easily do the tasks related to the project management. These tools of Visual Studio 2005 Team System are based on the software that a project manager already knows, such as Microsoft Project, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Share Point services. With the integration of the different applications stakeholders can explore the data available from the dashboard view.

There is a Portfolio Explorer that is integrated the Visual Studio 2005 Team System IDE. This helps effective communication with the development team. The project process can be customized according the organization. The tools available for project management help in better planning and scheduling. Effective communication and reporting is done with the help of these tools.

Data can be shared and custom views can be created with the tools available for project management. The views are used to give the relationships between risk assessments and project plans. The relationship of these with the functional specifications is also given with the views. Information is shared among all the views and any change in a view is reflected across all the views of the project. A project lead can create many views that depend on the features, components and scenario of the project. The same data can be captured and organized in many different ways.

Usually the project managers create work item lists in Excel sheet. They query the status of work items and then populate the excel sheet with it. Now with the project management tools in place the project manager can pull in the work items from the work item database and have it displayed in the work sheet. The work item database contains all the risks, bugs, and tasks in it.

With this there is no need to query for the status of any work item. Any change that is made in the work item is displayed to the team so that they always get the updated information. A project manager can create a work item list using a Portfolio Explorer or using the Excel with the add-in available. With the portfolio explorer the project manager can create data bound excel sheet by selecting the work item query.

Visual Studio 2005 Team System has an MS Project add-in that can used to connect the project plans with the data of the project team. A project manager can schedule a project plan and add that to the work item database from where that data is shared among the team. The work item queue of the developer is populated with the work item that is assigned by the project manager.

When the developer starts working on that particular work item the status of the work item is reflected in the work item database which in turn can be accessed by the Project Manager. With such inter linking all that the project manager has to do is to refresh the project plan so that he always gets the latest status of any work item. With this feature there is no need to conduct project status meeting since the project status is reflected automatically by refreshing the project plan. Earlier the project manager has to update the project plan manually by conducting the project status meeting.

The Portfolio Explorer has excellent project management tools that are used to navigate to the work items that includes, specifications, project plans and risk assessments. The main advantage is that these can be accessed using the Visual Studio 2005 Team System environment itself. All the efforts for a project are tracked using the work item database. The software projects are called portfolio projects in the Visual Studio 2005 Team System.

To manage projects a team project website with templates and reports are created. This is hosted by the Windows SharePoint Services. Templates that give the rules, security groups and policies for the efforts are created. For source control a separate source code node is created. The Portfolio Explorer allows you to navigate to the needed work products from within the Visual Studio environment. Team members can access the information that they are authorized to access.

Each portfolio project has a work item database associated with it. This enables up to date status of any work item that is assigned to the developer. The project management tools also have a feature that enables the developer to check out a code and work on it and then check in the code after the bug has been fixed. During this process the status can be Active, Pending, Resolved, or Closed. Work items can be created at any time and then assigned to the developer which will be in queue for the developer to take up the task. Any bug that is being worked upon is always related to the work item. Hence there is no need for the developer to update the status.

The software process can be managed effectively with the project management tools available in the Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Since the process is integrated to the tools the communication is very easy between the members of the team. A methodology template is associated with each project portfolio. These templates are based on the Microsoft Solutions Framework.

If there is any help needed for a team member they can always use the Visual Studio Help System for process guidance. Document templates are available in the project site and the portfolio explorer. A member can use it from either of these. The work items have rules associated with them for the work flow. Each of the work items are integrated with MS Project, Excel, and Portfolio Explorer. There are exit criteria that must be met before a particular activity is exited. A special view is available to view all the exit criteria.

This can be used by the project manager to view the exit criteria. Reports can be viewed from the Portfolio Explorer. You can add any report to the portfolio explorer at any time if needed. With the security groups in place the project manager can control the access to the work items, project site and databases. Metrics from different tools can be integrated to generate reports like Code quality report, Schedule progress report, Plan stability report, and test effectiveness report.

With so many project management tools and features the Visual Studio 2005 Team System is very useful to manage projects easily.

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