Agile Project Management Futures (August 2015)

Aaron Bjork

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2015

Last month we knocked two items off this list. 
  • You can now query and view Kanban columns from the backlog, a query result, etc.
  • Inline tasks now exist on Kanban boards.

You can read about these new features here:

More is coming in the next few sprints, stay tuned…

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This post details some of the agile project management improvements coming to Visual Studio Online and Team Foundation Server in the next few quarters.

New Work Item Form

****I’ll start with the core work item experience. We’re updating work items to include a new UI that provides a better day-to-day consumption and editing experience. The new work item experience is designed to provide improved readability, more structure and organization to your data, and a better consumption experiences for all related data – history, code artifacts, etc. Below is a screenshot of what you can expect (UI not final).

The new work item form will be available to preview in Q3 of this year and will have incremental updates added to it throughout the quarters that follow. Those incremental updates will include:

  • A rich discussion experience, complete with @mention (people) and #id (code artifacts) intellisense.
  • A new history experience with support for filtering, drill-through, and improved readability.
  • Support for custom fields and work item types (see below).
  • UI extensibility.

Custom Fields

The ability to add custom fields to your work items will be available in Q4 of this year. This marks our first milestone toward providing a complete process customization experience for Visual Studio Online. Beyond custom fields, we’ll be adding support for custom work item types, custom states, custom rules, and more.  You can read more about the investments we’re making in the following blogs posts:

DONE: Kanban – Querying and Viewing Kanban Columns

We’re making a set of investments to ensure that meta-data from your Kanban boards is viewable, query-able, and reportable. Today, it’s very easy to customize your Kanban board, however the custom meta-data is only present on the board, and not viewable on your backlog or in other venues like query results. Going forward we’ll be adding support so that three pieces of data from your Kanban boards (column, swim lane, doing/done) are available to query on, view in your backlog, and report on.  

These changes are coming in Q3 of this year.

DONE: Kanban – Tasks as a Checklist

****Many of you have asked for better support to add, view, and close Tasks directly from the Kanban board. Today you need to open each card and browse the links control (which has its own set of usability issues – see new work item form above) to understand any Tasks associated with the item. Going forward, we’ll be adding support to decompose your stories directly from the boards, including lightweight interactions (editing titles, marking as done, etc). 

Tasks as a checklist are coming in Q3 of this year.


****In the coming quarters you’ll see us start to talk a lot more about a new feature in the product that we’re calling “dashboards”.  Dashboards are a customizable canvas where you can bring together your ALM and DevOps data. We’re starting by taking the existing home pages in the product and turning them into a completely customizable experience – giving you full control of all the data on the screen. Each piece of data shown will be wrapped in what we’re calling a “widget”. This will include the existing charts, tiles, and all the links that show up today.

In parallel, we’re investing in a brand new set of widgets that pull data from all parts of the product – Work, Code, Build, Test, Release. We’re starting with the widgets in the Work space, but we’ll be expanding to all areas over time. Widgets will be written as extensions, allowing you to write and share your own widgets. As we get started in this space we’d love to hear what kinds of widgets you’d like to see us invest in. If you’ve got feedback here, please reach out to us at dashboard-feedback at

Dashboards will show up inside Visual Studio Online during Q4 of this year.

Kanban Metrics

****Earlier this year I talked about adding Kanban metrics that make understanding things like lead and cycle time  more natural and integrated the the product. We postponed this work a bit and are bundling it now with the dashboards work I described above.  Kanban metrics will be available in Q1 of next year.

Feel free to offer thoughts and suggestions into the comments of this post.  You can also reach me on twitter – @aaronbjork.

Thank you.


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