There should never be a Kanban process template for Team Foundation Server(TFS)

As described in David J. Andersons book Kanban – Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

Kanban is not a software development lifecycle methodology or an approach to project management. It requires that some process is already in place so that Kanban can be applied to incrementally change the underlying process.

Kanban is an evolutionary process improvement tool that can act as a catalyst for improving your existing process.

[ Edit: David J. Anderson just posted to the kanbandev group – Is there a Kanban Process? ]

If you don’t have a process already in place or you are very unhappy with you current process you may, and I say may, want to put in place a new process in one big change.

Otherwise, and this is the most likely scenario, you should start by doing a value stream map of your current process. Based on that value stream map apply the Five Core Properties of a Kanban Implementation:

  1. Visualize Workflow
  2. Limit work-in-progress
  3. Measure & Manage Flow
  4. Make Process Policies Explicit
  5. Use Models to Recognize Improvement Opportunities

As you can read above and in referenced texts there are no reference to a specific set of process steps or artifacts. Process steps and artifacts are the core parts of a TFS process template. Therefore it is not especially interesting to develop a specific Kanban process template.

However, TFS has some very useful features that can be very useful when applying Kanban on you existing process.

  • Process templates – If your existing process is similar to any of the may TFS process templates out there, use the one that has the best fit as a starting point and make adjustments.
  • Reporting – the built-in data warehouse is great for collecting and reporting on your flow of work. You probably need to add some new reports but much of the reports and data is already there.
  • Test and Build system – Focus on Quality and Deliver Often are two out of the six steps in the recipe for success and the automated Test and Build system in TFS are great tools to achieve these steps.

There are pieces missing in the TFS product today for it to be a great fit for applying Kanban. Some of these are:

  • No build-in Workflow Visualization tool
  • No build-in support for “enforcing” work-in-progress limits (WIP limits)
  • No good tools for making process changes friction less
  • Some useful reports are missing

These are areas where new tooling for TFS could be very useful but a complete Kanban process template is most likely a waste of time.

I’m currently working on an open source Workflow Visualization tool called Visual WIP. You can find the project at and you can follow the progress by following the Visual WIP tag


5 thoughts on “There should never be a Kanban process template for Team Foundation Server(TFS)

  1. mostofa 2010-10-07 / 01:16

    I agree with your thinking but if you have geographically separated teams then a board on the computer is the best way of sharing information and of course if you are using TFS then linking it to the tasks in my opinion would make it more visible.

    Else using another external tool would make double entry for the same work.

  2. Håkan Forss 2010-10-07 / 01:28

    I agree that there is a need for a digital system for you process and TFS is a great fit. But …
    Build tools that will add to the Kanban toolbox to current process templates like MSF for CMMI, Microsoft Visual Studio Scrum 1.0, MSF for Agile, Scrum for Team System and so on. A visual board like Visual WIP that I’m currently working on is very useful but that don’t mean you have to develop a dedicated TFS process template for Kanban.
    On a side note: The two cases David J Anderson have in the book both used TFS and its predecessor.

  3. mostofa 2010-10-07 / 04:55

    I now understand what you mean .

    A Kanban template would not work in the same way as Scrum as Kanban is for the whole process while scrum only would work with the development and testing cycles only.

    Am I correct ?

    On another now what do you think of using Sharepoint as a solution for Kanban whiteboard implementation ? I could be completely wrong though about using Sharepoint as I have not used it that much .

  4. Håkan Forss 2010-10-07 / 09:15

    Scrum is a project management method that can be applied to many different type of work but are typically used in development processes.

    Using SharePoint as the data store for a kanban board is very feasible and I’m planning to add SharePoint support to my Visual WIP application soon.

    Using SharePoint as the place where a kanban board is shown is also very feasible.

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