Kanban States and Task Board

Mar 19, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Edited Mar 20, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Thank you for the thoughtfulness in putting together this template.  One of the great things about lean/kanban is that it doesn't prescribe a process, but rather encourages continuous improvement of the process you already have.  Adopting this template means that you may not be able to continue your process as it is depicted on your physical kanban/task board, because it may have any combination of columns, sub-columns, swimlanes, and sub-swimlanes.  You also cannot alter your process the way you may need to in the future, because the template can't support it.  This is a problem that I have with most ALM tools on the market that try to do lean/kanban--they underestimate the power and importance of the board.  Electronic task boards need to be able to visually depict any process, just like a whiteboard can.  The vast majority cannot.

Another big problem is that the electronic task board needs to be interactive.  A static report just doesn't cut it.  I remember when Conchango came out with their Scrum for Team System template years ago; they went the same route with using Reports to depict the Scrum task board.  They eventually released a separate WPF app so people could actually drag and drop their cards (like on a physical task board).  Microsoft finally has decided to provide a simple Scrum-style task board in web access, but from what I can tell it isn't suitable for Kanban and it doesn't work with this template anyway.  So that is another deal breaker.

I really wanted to like this template and had high hopes for it, but I can't recommend it to my teams until it has an interactive board that can handle any process.  Good luck--I empathize with the difficulty of forcing TFS to do things it isn't well-suited to do, because I've banged my head against that wall myself with the process editor in past versions (2008, 2010).  I'll be keeping an eye on this template as it matures in hopes that I can use it for my teams in the future.

Tim E.

Mar 20, 2012 at 1:11 PM

I'm somewhat in the same boat on this -- I really want to like (and use!) this process template, but having a static board report isn't very functional.  I can appreciate that this is a "first cut" at a Kanban process template, but are there any plans for providing something more useful than an SSRS report for looking at the Kanban board?

Dave F.

Developer
Mar 21, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Hi Taelton,

Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts on the template (and Kanban in general).

RE: Flexibility of physical Kanban boards - I agree with you that no electronic tool will ever match the flexibility of a physical kanban system. The BIG question is "how flexible does an electronic tool need to be?"

When we were originally discussing what we should build we discussed these issues for a long time (weeks) - we finally made the decision to focus the first release on visualisation and sequential processes. We would then release and get feedback (and improve).

RE: Modifying your process - this can be done by modifying (adding new ones and changing the Order) the Process Step work items - the Process Steps that are created when you create a new project are more "default" steps.

RE: Interactive Kanban board - again, we've discussed this a lot and we're hearing you.

So to summarise your adoption blockers:

1. The Kanban board needs to be interactive

2. The Kanban board needs to support hierarchies of horizontal and vertical swimlanes.

This is great feedback and is much appreciated.

Dave, thanks for the +1 and additional comment.

Adam

Mar 21, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Yes, that summary is correct.  Glad to hear that these issues are on your radar.

Tim E.

May 20, 2012 at 12:39 AM

I totally agree with taelton analysis and still have to add another complain to the current template: the user experience for card lifecycle, based on the work item forms is simply awkward. If you read the guide at pages 30-31, you can also realize what I mean: to move to a state you have to select from two drop-down and be careful not to do other things... This was the main reason why our team decided to discard this template: it's too easy to make a mess and users would rapidly lose their confidence in the tool.

Please take a look at jira (http://www.atlassian.com/software/greenhopper/overview/kanban) to see how a kanban tool should be:

- interactive taskboard (kanban is all about flow visualization, so this is a must have): users change card state by a simple drag/drop, and there are horizontal swimlanes, coloured cards, and so on

- process customization made easy: no need to worry about global lists, synchronization services, and process template editors, just as easy as one click to the "add column" button on the top of the board

Please don't take my words as a blame, I really appreciate your efforts to provide kanban support in TFS, and I'm sure you will put more effort to improve this template, but you should become aware that just having fields and forms is not enough to make the template really usable, and you should realize how big the gap is from other tools, so that you can adjust your development efforts accordingly.

Alessandro

Developer
May 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Hi Alessandro,

Thanks for taking the time to post your comments and suggestions - we really appreciate them. Getting feedback like this helps us set the correct priorities for the next release.

We're currently planning the next release and we hear you loud and clear. We've had a lot of people ask for the interactive board. You're comments about simplifying the process editing are also very useful to us.

Thanks again,

adam