Busy with VSTS and TFS

It has been a busy year, and as any Agilista will tell you, it is time for a retrospective. Here is a picture of what my mind has been over the last year - all nice and fun, but very busy:

July_2007_-_TechEd_2007_074

Well, that's not actually the picture - my mind is more organized than that J. So here is what I have been up to (BTW thanks Steven Borg for the photo).

Last November I presented at TechEd Brazil on MSF CMMI, and wrote a chapter on MSF Agile (in Portuguese) for a VSTS book led by Brazilian MVP Fábio Câmara, plus several other authors.

Besides consulting engagements, I worked with the creator of MSF Agile, Randy Miller (now with MCS) on a MSF Agile training course, and helped my team create an "ALM Assessment", a version of which is now online at www.microsoft.com/almassessment.

Then in January I presented at TechReady (an internal Microsoft conference) with Sam Guckenheimer on "Fundamentals of ALM", and learned about the latest and greatest in upcoming Microsoft technologies in sessions raging from VSTS Orcas and Rosario, to WCF and others.

Soon after that I embarked on a 8-month stint with the MSF Team (now called "VSTS Process" team) as one of their product planners, while we were waiting to get Andrew Delin on board.

In February I had fun at SEPG 2007 in Austin (where I live - it's nice to have a major conference in your city once in a while). I was at the Microsoft booth talking about MSF CMMI and TFS, and also had interesting conversations with other booth presenters: Osellus (on the future of process enactment and authoring), Fujitsu (on how Macroscope for VSTS uses VSTS/TFS/Project), and Personify Design (with the new products to manage work items from Outlook, and requirements from Word).

At the conference I had the opportunity to talk a lot with David Anderson, the Architect of the MSF CMMI process template (now at Corbis), as well as Mike Konrad and Paul Nielsen from SEI on the past, present and future of MSF CMMI. I also met Hillel Glazer, one of the few fully certified assessors who also works with Agile development in depth.

In March I was at the SxSW Music and Media conference. I helped at the Microsoft booth for the Happy Hour sponsored by Microsoft Expression Studio where I had the opportunity of again talking to the Usability guru Chris Bernard about creating a UX whitepaper for MSF Agile (which is the only Agile methodology AFAIK to explicitly adopt Personas and Scenarios for User Experience).

While with the MSF product team my focus was especially on getting customer feedback. I helped to coordinate a workshop on Reporting in March, monthly calls to the MSF Council members, and hundreds of discussions on how to enact process in VSTS. I have also been in the MSF Forum a lot. After all this and two SDRs (Software Design Reviews) we got great feedback on how we can create better process templates for VSTS.

Then in June I presented at TechEd 2007 on MSF CMMI, helped at the Patterns and Practices booth, and rubbed shoulders with Ivar Jacobson from IJC, Sam Guckenheimer and Ajoy Krishnamoorthy while talking on the cool ESSup implementation for VSTS, Mike Azocar (creator of a lightweight Scrum process template), Colin Bird from Conchango (one of the authors of the first and most widely used Scrum process template), and a host of other VSTS MVPs, among them Chris Menegay, Steven Borg, Will Stott, Martin Donnell, Joel Semeniuk, Richard Hundhausen, Jeff Levinson, Jean-Luc David, Juan Perez, and customers from the MSF Council such as Brian Hinton and Wayne Miller.

Then at the end of the June/early July I worked from London for a week and a half on the process templates redesign with Ian Spence from IJC, and Alan Wills. We also worked on the CMMI 1.2 update and SOX for the next version of TFS (Rosario time frame). A second session on this work was done in September, this time with Andrew Delin as well. I couldn't travel for this latter one, so I worked with the London team from 2:00 AM to 11:00 AM CST every day - an interesting experience of remote work using Live Meeting.

In August I followed the "Scaling Agile" topic at Agile 2007 in Washington DC - an interesting topic which I am still working on with a few other attendees and customers. The best presentation was from Sanjiv Augustine on "Transitioning to Agile Project Management" as he showed how to avoid the friction between PMs using traditional techniques, and the new agile thinking as a company scales Agile from small teams to reach the whole enterprise.

Then I switched gears back to the ALM business - this time with a nation-wide ALM Business team. Last September I did a talk to the VSTS Inner Circle, again on "ALM Fundamentals" (recording started too early - you will have to wait 5 minutes for it to begin. I might post a trimmed version later).

October was the "bug month", not of the software kind, but of the "being sick" kind, which put me out of work for two weeks (one of them with a continuous migraine that now makes me see with even more sympathy those that have this condition).

Finally, in early November I participated of the Alt.Net conference in Austin - a great forum for users who want to use OSS tools for .NET development.

So what is the latest?  I will be doing the keynote in São Paulo on the 4th of December on "Delivering Value Through Application Lifecycle Management" at the Simpros (International Symposium of Process Improvement for Software)  event, meet a few customers and then if I still have time, pass by TechEd Brazil.

I am now working on a couple of workshops on MSF Agile and MSF CMMI Project Management, and a webcast on "Using KPIs to Streamline Development" with VSTS on the 13th of December, all that while engaged on a few VSTS ALM Projects. I can't complain of not having work to do J....

All in all, in retrospective it has been a very productive year, and hopefully I will repeat the dosage as I delve even more on implementing Software Engineering best practices with Visual Studio Team System.

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