Who are we?
We started the VSTS Rangers program in March 2006 as a joint venture between the Visual Studio Team System team and the Worldwide Communities program, part of the Office of the CTO in the Microsoft Services organization. A couple of years ago, we renamed our program to Visual Studio ALM Rangers, but the vision remained the same: to accelerate the adoption of Visual Studio with out-of-band solutions for missing features. In addition, our secondary goal is to provide the opportunity for selected Microsoft consultants, support resources and partners to interact with product group experts so we can learn from our field and partners using Visual Studio ALM products and features with customers.
ALM Rangers provide the bulk of our resources which come from volunteer subject matter experts. Typically, they spend their private hours to do the Rangers project work, and, not just anyone is invited to participate — Rangers need to be knowledgeable about Visual Studio and ALM, have the desire to strengthen the community, and contribute regularly.
Relying on volunteer part-time work has led us to strive for more efficiency in our projects. To achieve this goal, we have implemented 100% dogfooding with our own Agile-based (Ruck) process model. For consistency, we use the same process model across the board, even for guidance type projects.
Our first three years was focused on a strictly internal team that crossed all field roles—consulting, support, sales, and evangelism. As we expanded our external Rangers communities, our goal has been to provide the same level and ease of access to external Rangers. We have reached this goal with our extranet SharePoint site and Team Foundation Service which has, as a side effect, improved our operational transparency significantly.
But the top lesson learned again is to keep on learning from real world customers. We leverage our vast customer connections through our Rangers to collect their business and technical requirements and test our beta releases in pilot customer environments.
We hope that this overview provides enough information to whet your appetite for more details. We appreciate any feedback and improvement suggestions.
Acronyms and Terms
- ALM … Application Lifecycle Management
- CTO … Chief Technology Officer
- Ranger … To elaborate on the term Ranger, we often show a visual representation of a forest ranger who wanders the forests, clearing blocked paths and providing informational services to visitors.
What do we do?
The ALM Rangers are focused primarily on the delivery of out-of-band tooling and practical guidance to remove adoption blockers in real world environments. Typically an ALM Ranger solution is a hybrid of practical guidance and supporting out-of-band tooling and sample code.
Figure 1 – Aspects of ALM Rangers
Frequently asked questions
If you are a Microsoft employee please contact your regional ALM WWC lead and request to be nominated via Micheal Learned.
If you are not a Microsoft employee please contact your regional ALM MVP and request to be nominated via Willy-Peter Schaub.
Submit the following information as part of your request:
Why do you want to join the ALM Rangers?
Short and crisp bio, answering the common 5 index questions. See aka.ms/vsarIndex for examples.
- Who you are?
- What makes you “tick”?
- Where you live?
- Why are you active in the Rangers program?
- What is the best Rangers project you worked in and why?
- One or more non-IT (business) photo which includes you.
Contact details, including MSA (LiveID) account, contact email, postal address, and telephone number.
To remain an active ALM Ranger you need to be actively involved in the ALM Ranger community.
Renewals and special awards, such as distinguished or champion Rangers, are based on feedback from your peers.
Recommend a new or upgrade project idea?
Add your idea to Visual Studio UserVoice with as much supporting information as possible.
Encourage your communities and peers to vote for your idea, as project idea triages are based on strategic value, community value and number of votes.
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The Visual Studio ALM Rangers provide professional guidance, practical experience and gap-filling solutions to the ALM community.
As a team the ALM Rangers have come to value the following:
Razor sharp focus on quality and detail on the work we do
- Favor simplicity and low tech over complexity
- Expect and adapt to change, delivering incremental value
Accountability and commitment
- Actively manage the project triangle attributes: features, bandwidth and cost
- Never go dark … always share the good, the bad and the ugly with the team
Non-stop and unrestricted collaboration
- Empower the ALM community
- Embrace open communications
Global transparency and visibility through collaboration and shared infrastructure
- For all initiatives, track and publish status on a timely basis
- Access to everything for everyone
Empathy, trust, humility, honesty and openness at all times
- No one knows everything; as a team we know more
- Learn from and share all experiences
Regular dogfooding of Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management tools
- Improve productivity of ALM Ranger teams
- Gather and share real-life experiences
Honorary ALM Rangers
Who have retired from an active position in the past, but have actively contributed invaluable passion and contributions to the ALM Ranger community.
Erwyn van der Meer