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Combine Microsoft Project and Visual Studio Team System for a One-two Punch of Productivity : Page 4

Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) provides centralized storage of work item tracking features while MS Project provides rich planning and tracking features. By using them together, you can improve team productivity, minimize data conflicts, and reduce administrative overhead.




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Project Plan Column Mappings
The project plan in Figure 4 shows the default set of columns that a project plan gets when connected to a team project created with the MSF for Agile Software Development Process template. Not all of the columns shown have corresponding fields in any of the work items. Some columns exist solely as MS Project columns and are not published to TFS, such as Duration and Row No. Similarly, a few columns in the connected project plan are not shown in the default view but do have corresponding fields in work items. For example, fields such as Priority and Discipline are not shown in the default view, but they are synchronized with work items when publishing or refreshing. Table 1 lists all the columns used for synchronization between MS Project and Work Items. The columns can be one of following three types:
  • Columns that apply to all the WITs available in the MSF Agile process template. Examples are Task, QoS, Risk, Scenario, Bug,Work Item ID, Area Path, etc. These columns' Work Item Type value is All in Table 1.
  • Columns that apply only to specific work items types. For example, the column Completed Work applies to the Task WIT only. These columns' Work Item Type value in Table 1 is the name of the work item to which each column applies.
  • Columns that do not apply to any WIT. These columns store information that is relevant within MS Project only, for example, Publish and Refresh, and have a Work Item Type value of None in Table 1.
There are columns that apply to more than one WIT and can have values from a predefined list as specified in the WIT definition. If the lists have different values in the applicable WIT definitions, the dropdown boxes for those columns show the combined list of values from all the WITs. For example, the State field can be Active or Closed for a Task WIT, but can be Active, Closed or Resolved for three other WITs. The drop down box for the State column in project plan shows all three values.

Table 1. The table lists all the columns used to synchronize a local MS Project copy with the set of work items stored in the TFS.

MS Project Column Description Work Item Type
Work Item ID The unique ID for the work item. All
Title The title provides a concise overview of the work item to be completed. All
Area Path Used to group the work item into an appropriate feature or team area. The area must be a valid node in the project hierarchy. All
Iteration Path The iteration to which the work item belongs. All
Publish and Refresh Specifies one of these options: Yes, No, Refresh Only. None
Work Item Type The type of work item. All
Discipline Indicates whether the task is a development task, test task, or just an ordinary task. Task
Assigned To The person to which the work item is currently assigned. All
Completed Work The amount of work completed on the task. Task
Remaining Work The amount of work that remains to finish the task. Task
Baseline work The number of hours of work from the baseline plan Task
State The workflow state of the work item e.g. Active or Closed for a task work item. All
Reason The reason a work item is in the current state. For example, task may be closed because it is completed, deferred, cut, deferred, or obsolete. All
Rank The rank field is a subjective importance rating. QoS, Scenario and Task
Issue Issue is a Yes or No value indicating if the work item is blocked in some manner. If this field is set to Yes, the work item shows up on the project manager's issue report. All
Exit Criteria The exit criteria field indicates if the work item is critical to starting or finishing an iteration. If the exit criteria field is set to Yes, the work item shows up in the project manager's project checklist. QoS, Scenario and Task
QualityOfServiceType The type of quality of service. It can have one of these values: Performance, Security, Stress, Load, Platform, or Other QoS
Priority Priority to the business Bug
Rev Indicates the revision number of the work item. All
Links and Attachments Indicates whether the work item has any link or attachment. It has one of these values: Yes or No. None

Figure 11. Column Mappings
Each column in Table 1 has a one-to-one mapping with its equivalent work item field in VSTS. You can view these mappings by clicking the View Column Mappings menu item, which displays the dialog box shown in Figure 11. Figure 11 shows the default column mappings, but you can change those or add new mappings by customizing the process template.

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