Visual Studio Team System and Scrum Task Boards

Friday, September 19, 2008 – 4:10 AM

Teams at patterns & practices use Visual Studio Team System to run their projects. Here are a couple of approaches for getting a traditional Scrum or XP task board experience with Team System; creating paper task cards from Team System using Word’s mail merge feature and the Conchango Scrum for Team System virtual task board.

Creating task cards from Team System

Team standup meeting with a task board in the room.What if your team wants to get that tactile experience of moving cards around a board to track progress during an iteration or sprint? The EntLib 4.1 team is doing just that. Their team is co-located here in Redmond and they are using Team System in conjunction with a task board in the team room.

On the left you’ll see the EntLib team at their daily standup meeting with a whole load of white task cards on the wall behind them.

Task cards printed from VSTS work items.

How do you get task notes out of VSTS?

  1. Open a team query in the Team Explorer.
  2. Select all the items you want to print cards from and click “Open Selection in Microsoft Excel”
  3. You can then use the Mail Merge feature of Word to create mail address labels with your selected VSTS work items on.

It’s really that simple!

The printed notes can be stuck on the wall with sticky tape, like the picture on the right. Or… 3M now do Post-it notes for laser printers. So you can print directly to Post-its.

You can use the task board for working with tasks during the iteration and still use VSTS for tracking overall product backlogs and progress with the project overall.

A virtual task board with Conchango’s Scrum for Team System

Conchango task board feature in Scrum for Team System.What if your team is distributed? Having a bunch of task cards on a wall in one room really isn’t that useful. Conchango’s Scrum for Team System is a free VSTS add-in for agile teams.

Scrum for Team System includes a (virtual) task board to give a similar experience for distributed teams. You can move task cards around and the task board will update the task in VSTS.

The p&p Composite Application Guidance for WPF and Silverlight team is using Scrum for Team System on their latest release. So far they’ve been pretty pleased with it.

Update 6th Oct 2008: Mike Cohn’s site also has some good examples of task boards. I think I prefer the Conchango board to the Outlook one.

  1. 4 Responses to “Visual Studio Team System and Scrum Task Boards”

  2. I have been using this new product our team implemented called VersionOne. This Agile Project Management System is great. We now have a virtual taskboard so our team members in India can work on our iterations and view our taskboard and backlog items like they were sitting next to us. It has helped out scrum team and they do have a 30 day trial so we checked it out first. Check them out at .

    By Josh Cameron on Oct 1, 2008

  3. Did you see GreenHopper from GreenPepper software : .
    This product transform you TFS work item into index card in a task board and a planning board.

    By Dominic Danis on Dec 11, 2008

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  2. Sep 19, 2008: ajoyk - VSTS, Process, patterns and practices : Index cards and Team System
  3. May 18, 2009: Elegant Code Cast on Distributed Agile Development | #2782 - Agile software development, patterns and practices for building Microsoft .NET applications.

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