Not all our customers will have a TFS implementation ready to go when we try to implement some agile procedures. This has limited some consultants that have been trained to implement MSF agile using our tool only.

The good news is that there are some pragmatic ways to organize tasks and keep the communication open between the teams. A good approach is using a storyboard, writing down the different tasks in story cards that can be sticked to the whiteboard.

Storyboard in action

The idea is to identify the tasks and distribute the across the iterations. One way to do it is to divide the whiteboard in frames, using different areas to place the tasks assigned to the different iterations. The tasks should be considered as if they were standard agile tasks; the amount of information is up to the project governor discretion. A way to share the goals that the team are trying to achieve on the iteration can be displayed at the top of the list with a different card colour; this can help to move tasks to other iterations if they are not aligned with the iteration goal.

Storyboard sample

Each task needs to be specific, with mini subtasks if necessary. If the task ends to generic it is recommended to split it in different tasks. Another key area to consider is the duration of each one, as a big different in the estimated time can push the iteration beyond the planned timeframe. Don’t try to define all your iterations in advance, if you have ideas or “good to have” features, put them into a “future iterations” list, no matter how crazy they are. Once the project starts to deliver value you can review the future iterations section to accommodate them in the next iterations.

In order to track the status of the project, another section is recommended. This section will have the name of the developers (or teams if the project is big enough) with the tasks assigned to it/them. These tasks should be removed from the iterations list with the starting time tracked. This type of exercise allows everybody to see which features are under development and which ones are still missing from the current iteration. Once the developer or team finished the tasks it should go to the completed list with the goals attached, marking each of the goals achieved on the completion list.

Work in progress and competition sample

This storyboard methodology helps to track the tasks without using TFS and has a real visual impact on the team and managers.