The new Microsoft Visual Studio 1.0 process template is used by a number of the Rangers solutions that are based on Ruck (loose scrum) and is proving to be an excellent new process template that is Scrum focused, easy to understand and avoids the confusion with terminology when using the Agile  process template in Scrum environments.

We have made a minor tweak to one of the queries, have added a batch of new ones and had to understand the absence of User Story work item type as part of our Ruck-based projects. These tweaks are not recommended tweaks that are applicable to all … we find they are adding value to our Ruck world and could be valuable in other project environments using this process template.

Here is a quick overview of what we changed.

Minor tweak – avoid a potential black hole

Looking at the Product Backlog query we have:

The Product Backlog query states “Iteration Path = @Project” which works fine if the team keeps the Product Backlog Item (PBI) at the root and the associated tasks in the respective sprints. In our case, however, the leads assign the PBIs to the relevant sprint as they are committing to PBIs … making the PBI disappear from this query and vanishing in a black hole.

We have changed the query to “Iteration Path under @Project”:

Additional Team Queries – making our lives easier

To ensure that the feature area teams, for example Hands-on-lab (HOL), are razor-sharp focused on their backlog, we created copies of the Sprint Backlog query and narrowed down the queries to the respective areas:

Additional Cleanup Queries – avoiding more black holes

To help us manage other black holes and keep the PB groomed, we created the following cleanup queries:

Query to list all tasks that are defined, but have not been assigned to iteration. While this is valid for new tasks, we use this query to pickup active tasks or done tasks that are not assigned to iteration and are therefore vanishing off the reports.

Query to list all active tasks that have no remaining work defined, which is a problem for reporting:

Query to list tasks that are incomplete and assigned to the previous iteration. These tasks should be closed or moved back to the bucket … any results will light up forgotten tasks in the past, or incorrect sprint assignment which is a problem for reporting:

Where is the User Story WIT?

Our project manager, product owner and team leads were looking for a user story work item type. To cut a long story short, there is no such work item type in this process template and the expectation is that we write our backlog items as stories and include the story definition as part of the PBI. When you create a new product backlog item, the description defaults to “As a <type of user> I want <some goal> so that <some reason>” for this very reason and to give you a head start.

That’s it for today. Watch the space for more feedback from the field.