As a non-developer who appreciates easy-to-use tools, I was jealous of our technical team and how they could use Visual Studio Team Services to track work and manage their backlog. When our Software Architect, Mikey Cooper, suggested we use Team Services to track our Sales Pipeline I was immediately intrigued. Once he set it up and I was introduced to Styling Rules, Swimlanes and Custom Columns I can confidently tell you I won’t be switching to any other tool to track our sales pipeline. While I am personally using these customizations for non-development projects, Developers can quickly and easily add these customizations to their dev projects and I guarantee that they will add immediate value.
Styling Rules for Cards
Styling rules allow you to set specific rules for work items so when a work item matches that rule it stands out by turning a different color. For example, when an item is moved from “Approved” to “Committed” it can turn from white to yellow and when it is moved to “Scheduled” it can turn green.
1. To access this functionality, start from the board view in Backlog Items in the Work Section.
2. Then select the gear icon in the upper right hand corner of your board.
3. From the gear icon, select “Styles” under Cards in the left hand column. To add a new rule, simply select the green plus sign and a new rule will be created for you to customize.
4. To create the rule for work items to turn yellow when they were moved to the committed column, you would call the rule name “Committed,” select your card color, in this case I chose yellow and then define the rule criteria and save.
Swimlanes allow you to view different categories of work items horizontally on the board. In my example for the Sales Pipeline, we created three different swimlanes for our three core competencies but a common use case for swimlanes for development is support issues or emergency fixes. To access the functionality for swimlanes, follow steps 1 and 2 from above. When you get to the gear icon, you will find “swimlanes” in the left hand column under Board. Simply select the green plus sign to add a new swimlane. You can re-arrange them in any order you would like once they are added as swimlane.
Columns provide a visual flow of work for your backlog items on the board. To customize the columns on your board, follow steps 1 and 2 from above. When you get to the gear icon, you will find “columns” in the left hand column under Board. Simply select the green plus sign to add a new column and edit the column name. Once you have saved that new column, you can re-arrange them, set a WIP limit, specify the state and a definition of done.
I am confident that you will find at least one (if not all) of these customizations as easy and helpful as I did! My husband is in serious trouble this weekend since I will be creating a Board for house projects!