Sunday, 17 February 2019

Using the Basic Process Template in Azure DevOps to make support management easier

I love the introduction of a Basic Process Template in Azure DevOps, and I will tell you why – it provides a very simple structure for projects that do not want or require a more complex set of prescriptions, but it still feeds from the best practices and the consensus of Agile methodologies so you are not left totally in the dark or to yourself.

An example is support management (as well as escalation management – for the sake of this post I will only refer to support, but many of these concepts apply to both). While there are tools like Service Now which provide an end-to-end lifecycle for support tickets, for certain teams or organisation it can be like hammering a nail for a picture on the wall with a sledgehammer. Doable, but at what cost? Let’s use this scenario as an example.

For starters, you don’t really need Iterations here. While you could use them – nothing wrong with iterations within a support team – you can do equally well without them, it is up to the team and how it is organised. Areas are what you might need: at least an area per product. Don’t be tempted to add many sub-areas under each product, you can easily leverage tags and be way tidier that way.

Also – don’t be scared if you see this error message:

It is perfectly normal, you don’t have bugs in this project! You have Issues instead. So disregard that.
Onto your backlog now, you can start by clicking on the button to create a new Work Item – which is going to be an Issue:

You can go on for a while. I also really like the fact that you can define where the new Work Item goes: top, bottom or at selection. Really neat IMHO.

Once you have a backlog, people start working on it – Azure Boards come in very handy at this, and they are already pre-set in a way that many people will find intuitive:

If you think about it, support management is the perfect example of a Lean project in practice. Stuff comes in, it’s worked on for a while and it comes out on the other side with a status. That’s really it, and the Basic Process Template is a perfect starting point for this kind of approach.

And let me stress that – it is a starting point. You can customise it like any other Process Template and you can change everything about it, but IMHO its real value is in the simplified angle from where it tries to make life simpler for these teams or situations where other structures might be overkill.

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