5 Reasons to Upgrade your Team Foundation Server

It's time to upgrade

It sits there in the background humming right along, bravely weathering every build you throw at it. It hungrily stores your source code and caringly serves up work items and reports like your best friend.  Team Foundation Server is the hub of your ALM activity.  You use it, abuse it, and rarely have to excuse it.

Now that your software development team is maturing, you need more mature ALM tools. You need tools like Kanban boards, team communication hubs, improved backlog and portfolio management, and a better Team Web Access.  If you’re going to take development to another level, your tools need to compliment your practices, not hinder them.

If you have an older Team Foundation Server, now is the time to consider updating it.

Here are 5 reasons why you should upgrade your legacy Team Foundation Server (TFS):

1) You’ve already paid for it. (You have an Enterprise Agreement.)

Having one of the Microsoft license agreements (such as an Enterprise Agreement, or EA) is like having an unopened box of chocolates sitting at your desk.  You can choose to open it and choose which chocolate you want.  Some people consume all of it, while others handpick which lovely morsels they consume.   Think of TFS as one of your favorite chocolate covered confections sitting in that unopened box.

Since you already have an EA, you have access to the latest and greatest version of TFS – it comes as part of your EA!  If you have an EA and you’ve been sitting on a version of TFS that isn’t the latest version, then you need to make the plan to upgrade.  There’s just so much going for the latest version that eclipses the previous version.  Since you are paying for it, why not use it?

2) You want to get more agile in your development practice.

With TFS 2012, Microsoft moved the functionality of product backlog management into a redesigned and incredibly powerful Team Web Access.  There are tools that allow you to easily (and visually) manage the product backlog and quickly manage tasks by user. Team Web Access now offers an easily customizable home page so your team can quickly see the current status of projects.  Since the release of TFS 2012, there have been 8 new TFS releases which include new features, major updates, and fixes. The addition of a customizable Kanban board and work item charting enables you to easily generate and display charts based on work item queries.  All of these features give your development teams improved tools for managing your agile development practices, providing you greater insight into your development cycles.

Since you want to deliver relevant, quality software to your customers in a timely fashion, you’ve undoubtedly implemented some form of agile development.  As you know, agile provides a framework so you can more quickly deliver quality software to your customers by enabling shorter cycles.  This results in faster feedback and can lead to higher quality and better value for your customers.   A combination of mindful software development practices, data that is easily encapsulated and informing, and tools that simplify the journey can lead to higher quality and better value for you and your customers.  The new tools in Team Foundation Server, including the Kanban board, Team Web Access, improved portfolio management, code reviews, and feedback manager go a long way to helping your software development team deliver on this value and become more agile.

3) You want to save money.

The old adage says “time is money”.  TFS has grown a lot since TFS 2010 (not to mention TFS 2005) and moving the portfolio management tools into Team Web Access has contributed greatly to the popularity of TFS amongst modern software development teams.  It’s easy to manage a product backlog with the latest version of TFS, and truly easy with its product backlog management page and the customizable Kanban board.  You can even begin the process of building test cases right in Team Web Access without having to open up Microsoft Test Manager (MTM) – no need for an MTM license to create test cases with test steps.  Now your team can work together building test cases without having to offload the entire responsibility on a tester, saving time and resources!

New and improved tools such as Kanban boards with drag-and-drop PBI’s and bugs, which are all part of Team Web Access, contribute to time savings (and time is money), but there’s more.   One of the value propositions of TFS is the ability to have end-to-end traceability for your software development organization.  Organizations that take advantage of this functionality are using the data they are gathering to get a better understanding of their application lifecycle practices and processes.  When you have insight into these practices then you have the opportunity to make informed decisions around both your software development and delivery practices, as well as the software you’re delivering.  And those mindful decisions can help your organization save money.

4) You or someone you work with likes Git.

Starting with Team Foundation Server 2013, organizations had another option for source control management – Git.  Git is a popular source control tool that much of the open source community is using, and subsequently a lot of developers have chosen to use it for their personal source control.  But Git isn’t just for single developers – enterprises have begun adopting it as well.

Git is fully supported in TFS.  If you have developers currently using Git and were concerned that they’d have to lose Git functionality if they moved to Team Foundation Version Control, you can allay their fears. Git and TFS play well together and should not be a reason to avoid moving to the latest version of TFS.  If you aren’t familiar with Git, check out this informative Git site to learn more!

5) It’s easy.

Since Team Foundation Server 2012, the TFS installation process has become considerably easier.  Wizards dominate the installation processes.  They are easy to use yet can support deployment scenarios for simple to complex environments.  An upgrade from 2010 can be as easy as pressing “Next” a few times!  Mind you, if you’ve customized your process template or the out-of-the-box work items then you may need to do a little work to make sure you don’t lose out on some of the neat features, but we can help you with that!

Of course, upgrading doesn’t just mean moving to an on premise TFS server.  You could also choose to upgrade by moving to Visual Studio Online (VSO).  VSO is the cloud-based version of TFS and is updated every 3 weeks, meaning you will have the latest feature updates before on premise TFS gets them. Moving to the cloud requires some proper planning and considerations and shouldn’t be done without fully understanding the scope and effort required. Reach out to us if you would like more information on a Visual Studio Online migration!

There are many reasons to upgrade your legacy ALM infrastructure, from cost savings to functionality.  If you are still on the fence about whether or not upgrading to the latest version of TFS is the right choice for you (it is!) or if you want to move to VSO, we can help you sort it out.  We would love to discuss the various options with you and assist you with your migration!

Contact clientservices@nwcadence.com for more information.

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  1. Fergal March 11, 2015 at 8:31 am

    WOW..it turns out I live in a cartoon strip. I had that conversation:-)

  2. Rennie A. (NWC) March 12, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Yep, me too. I wonder what it is about change that gets us so bothered? And thanks for the comment!

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