As discussed in Chapter 1, in the decade since the Agile Manifesto, the industry has largely reached consensus on software process. Scrum is at its core, complemented with Agile engineering practices, and based on Lean principles. This convergent evolution is the basis for the practices supported by VS.
This chapter addressed how VS, and TFS in particular, enacts process. Microsoft provides three process templates with TFS: Scrum, MSF for Agile Software Development, and MSF for CMMI Process Improvement. All are Agile processes, relying on iterative development, iterative prioritization, continuous improvement, constituency-based risk management, and situationally specific adaptation of the process to the project. Microsoft partners provide more process templates and you can customize your own.
Core to all the processes is the idea of work in nested cycles: check-in, test, sprint, and release. Each cycle has its own definition of done, reinforced with tooling in TFS. The definitions of done by cycle are the best guards against the accumulation of technical debt and, thus, are the best aids in maintaining the flow of potentially shippable software in every sprint.
Consistent with Scrum, it is important to inspect and adapt not just the software but also the process itself. TFS provides a Process Template Editor to adapt the process to the needs of the project. The process design should reflect meaningful business circumstances and what the team learns as it matures from sprint to sprint.
Finally, inspect and adapt. Plan on investing in process and tooling early to improve the economics of the project over its life span. By following an Agile approach, you can achieve considerable long-term benefits, such as the development of high-quality and modifiable software without a long tail of technical debt. However, such an approach, and its attendant benefits, requires conscious investment.
The next chapter pulls back to the context around the sprint and discusses product ownership and the many cycles for collecting and acting on feedback. That chapter covers the requirements in their many forms and the techniques for eliciting them and keeping them current in the backlog.