Organize your schedule around TFS work items

 
Every team member, regardless his project role, needs efficient tools for everyday work item management tasks. TeamCompanion treats work items as first class Outlook objects, allowing you to quickly apply your entire Outlook experience to working with work items from within Outlook. This approach is visible through the support for adding various flags and reminders related to work items, and schedule meetings regarding work items. TeamCompanion enables you to better organize your work and time by managing work items easily and efficiently from the very beginning.

Welcome to another blog entry in our series about real-life project scenarios, where we show how, with the help of TeamCompanion, you can handle different realistic situations you come across every day in your development process.

This time we will take a look at the following typical scenario: While previewing work item queries, you often need to deal with some work items afterwards. In order not to get overrun by other events and to forget about it, you would like to setup Remainders and set To-Dos related to those work items. Since you are using TeamCompanion in cooperation with Outlook, that isn’t a problem!

Note: You need to activate Outlook reminders for TeamCompanion in order to show reminders and tasks for work items.

Setting Outlook To-do flags and Reminders for TFS work items

Let’s assume you are using Scrum and you are browsing through the Product Backlog. You need to deal with the highly ranked requirements later in the day, so you need to add them to your To-do list in Outlook. Each work item query result list displays the Flag Status column as the last column in the list, same as for lists of emails. When you click on a flag in that column, you automatically set the default follow up flag for the work item and it automatically appears in the Task list in the To-Do Bar. By default, Outlook adds items to the list for today. Additional flags are available in the drop down Follow up menu. You can mark items with any preset or custom flag.

 

 ToDo.png
 

These flags have nothing to do with the rest of the team and are strictly intended for your personal use.

Setting reminders for work items is equally intuitive. In the drop down Follow up menu, you can choose to add a reminder on a particular point in time. The item will be shown in the Task list and it will be marked with the reminder icon.

 

 Reminder.png

When the reminder pops-up in the Reminders window, you are able to open the work item directly from it. The work item form opens and you can quickly check the reason why you wanted to be reminded about that particular work item.

 

 Reminder_WI
 
TeamCompanion treats TFS work items as first class Outlook citizens. Whenever you have some Outlook related object and some TFS related object which are associated, you can go back and forth between them, while TeamCompanion handles the bridging.

Organizing Outlook Meetings around TFS work items

We are in Outlook, so it’s natural to be able to schedule a meeting regarding a work item. TeamCompanion integrates Outlook meeting requests and TFS work items and takes care of the easy transition of data between them.

You usually want to discuss matters around work items with team members who worked on those work items in the course of time and correspondingly changed them. Those changes are recorded in the work item history. When you create a new meeting request from a work item, most appointment fields are already pre-filled. You can notice that all team members mentioned in the work item’s history are automatically invited to the meeting. Outlook will resolve their email addresses if they are configured in your address book. The subject is copied from the work item title. To finish, you need to set the meeting location and send the invitation.

 Meeting.png
 

Afterwards, while you preview the meeting request in your calendar, you can quickly access the work item that was used to create it. TeamCompanion automatically linked the meeting request with the corresponding work item, making it quickly accessible for within the meeting request. One of the key benefits of such relationship is that anyone invited to the meeting can easily open the associated work item and see what the meeting is about. This is one more example of going back and forth between different types of associated Outlook and TFS objects. Additionally, you can update the details of the referenced work item with contents of the meeting request body.
 

 Meeting_Update

In this scenario you saw how TeamCompanion treats work items as any other Outlook items – you can add Outlook style flags, reminders and appointments. All your experience with Outlook equally applies to work items. This ensures that new users are efficient from the day one. TeamCompanion automatically takes care of links between Outlook and TFS objects, making each associated work item just a click away. 

Note: Examples in this blog are based on the Brian Keller’s Visual Studio 2012 RTM ALM Virtual Machine, which has been upgraded to Office 2013 and expanded with TeamCompanion 5.1. RTM.

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