May Blog Series: A Recipe For…
Insights From: Bernd Loske (Fullscope Director of Technical Services)
Most developers already use the Team Foundation Server (TFS) as a version control system for Microsoft Dynamics AX implementations. The rest of the implementation team typically views TFS as a tool that the development team uses, but TFS can do more than just keep track of code. TFS has a different side to it that can be useful to the entire team from the subject matter expert, to the project manager to the executive sponsor. TFS can help manage the requirements and tasks, plan the implementation, report on the progress and implement repeatable implementation practices, or in other words, it can help with the Application Lifecycle Management.
Application Lifecycle Management
The MSDN blog describes Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) as "the coordination of development lifecycle disciplines including the management of requirements, changes, configurations, integrations, releases and tests. These functions span development phases including requirements definition, design, code, test, and run."
The ALM component is part of TFS, whether it's an on-premise or TFS online version. Although there are some differences in regards to customization and access, ALM needs can be handled by both.
Work Items in TFS
The ALM part of TFS is centered on work items. A work item in TFS can have different forms, like a "Requirement," a "Task," an "Issue" or a "Bug." Each implementation methodology has different types of work items to fit the specifics of the given methodology. The on-premise version of TFS even allows the team to add its own methodology with the desired types of work items.
What differentiates TFS from collecting work items on a spreadsheet are the capabilities surrounding each work item, such as:
- The ability to link work items together through different types of links
- The workflows that are defined for each work item
- The ability to add attachments to each work item
- The change tracking for work items
- Alerts and notifications when changes are made
- The ability to link code changes to the work items that each is associated with
Accessing TFS ALM
You can access TFS ALM in multiple ways:
- Visual Studio Team Explorer
- TFS Web Access: This is most common way to access TFS. It's good for the day-to-day maintenance required and provides all the information needed.
- Excel: When it comes to reporting and bulk maintenance, Excel is the tool of choice. It can maintain multiple work items together in an easy and familiar fashion. Having the data in an Excel spreadsheet provides the instant ability to run reports with the tools Excel offers.
- Microsoft Project: This integration allows for the planning, scheduling and tracking of different tasks that need to be completed during the implementation of Dynamics AX.
- The on-premise version has the ability to deploy a team portal to a SharePoint installation and to access data through SSRS reports.
Microsoft Dynamics AX is designed for manufacturers. For more information on how Team Foundation Server (TFS) can help your manufacturing business with Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), contact us today.