Azure DevOps Tutorial: Agile Project Management

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With Azure DevOps, you can choose from a variety of planning tools in the Azure Board that are ideal for agile project management. So, if you’re transitioning from traditional project management to agile approaches, Azure DevOps is an excellent option for you.

Azure Boards’ agile planning and portfolio management tools help you swiftly plan, manage, and track work across your entire team.  It comes with features like product and sprint backlogs, task boards, dashboards, analytics reports, etc. All of them help project teams easily track their workflow throughout the development cycle.

You can connect to Azure DevOps within a single system if you are paired up with a project and portfolio management platform like PPM Express. This provides you with a complete portfolio and holistic project visibility by aggregating project-related information across groups, portfolios, and systems – without replacing any tools.

Azure DevOps 

Azure DevOps is a collection of tools that help software development teams track work, manage code, perform builds, deploy apps, and run tests. Azure DevOps is a flawlessly integrated set of tools perfect for any developer team from project initiation to the working software stage.

Developers, project and product managers, or business analysts can benefit from Azure DevOps for their Agile Project Management needs. However, it lacks the elements of a complete project management suite.


Some of the main features for Azure DevOps project management include:

  • User Controls: With Azure, you can connect to your Azure Active Directory (AD), sync with an on-premises AD, and even invite guests. Access rules apply to all users, limiting what they can see. Besides, when Users are finally assigned to teams, they can examine work, access code, and collaborate with others. An administrator adds all the users in Azure DevOps.
Azure DevOps user controls
  • Azure Guests: You can invite guests from other organizations to join your work by simply entering the person’s email address when adding the user and selecting a team in your Azure AD.
  • Groups/Permissions: Users can join one of the numerous built-in groups to access certain features. Add members to the relevant group under group management on the organization settings page. You can also configure permissions on a group for the project on the project settings page.
Azure DevOps permissions
  • Teams: Users can be assigned to one or more units, limiting the scope of what they can see when assigned to a specific team. The focus of a team can vary based on the portfolio, the project, or the iteration
  • Processes and Types: For Azure Boards, Azure DevOps provides a few generic and customized templates. Basic, agile, scrum and CMMI are the four built-in process types for boards. In this way, the project’s process categories apply to boards, but teams can have their boards display work items in alternative ways. 
  • Backlogs: Backlogs are where you keep track of work items, plan products, and features, and structure your projects. Portfolio Backlog is the higher-level backlog containing epics and features. Requirement Backlog is the more detailed backlog, including issues, product backlog items, or user stories. Lastly, the Iteration Backlog is a task-level backlog for each time-scoped iteration. These are the three basic backlogs in Azure DevOps.
Azure DevOps backlogs
  • Boards: Boards are used to organize and manage tasks. Work items are cards on a board that is separated into columns based on their current status.
Azure DevOps boards
  • Iteration Paths: Iteration Paths, often known as sprints, allow you to assign work items to time intervals. At the project level, you specify iteration pathways, and then each team chooses which ones they wish to employ. To enable releases, sub-releases, and sprints, you can construct a flat or a hierarchical set of iteration pathways.
Azure DevOps Iteration Paths
  • Areas: You can utilize Areas to logically divide work, match it to functional areas, or construct sites for different business lines. Areas are beneficial while working on a larger project because they make the job and boards more manageable.
  • Notifications: Almost any action in Azure DevOps can be alerted or opted out of by your team members. Work assignments and build success/failure are the two most common reasons for alerts.
  • Dashboards: You may construct dashboards for a variety of purposes with Azure DevOps. The dashboard design varies depending on the demands of team members, work item categories, and other factors.
Azure DevOps dashboards
  • Azure Repos: Azure Repository is a suite of version control tools that developers use to track coding changes over time. Version control systems keep track of each developer’s changes, merge and test them safely, and publish the changes. In Azure Repos, there are two methods of version control: Team Foundation Version Control and Git.
  • Analytics: Control charts, cumulative flow diagrams, and burn charts are some of the built-in analytics reports in Azure DevOps. These can significantly help product owners discover workflow patterns. You can include charts in dashboards or view them separately using the Azure Boards capability. Such data visualization gives an overview of projects and helps in their continuous improvement. In addition, PPM Express’s reporting features help you get reports powered by analytics tools like Power BI. You can receive real-time updates directly from Azure DevOps about your project and portfolio progress, manage their statuses, estimate risks, and more.
Azure DevOps Analytics

Best Practices for Agile Management 

The many features and functionalities of Azure DevOps might get confusing, but if you’re focusing on an agile process, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

Configure Your Teams

Each project has a default team. However, you should define the team if you have several features or development teams.

To follow agile methodologies, you should form agile teams based on the deliverables. Define a team for each group of developers and set scrum masters to streamline your agile project.

Configure Your Sprints

Iteration Paths specify sprints for a project, which are then chosen by teams. The sprint cadence may vary in terms of duration or hierarchy. Sprint backlogs, Taskboards, Forecast, and Delivery plans are all used by Azure Board tools to allocate sprints to a team.

Best practices for sprints in agile projects include defining a sprint cadence teams can use in your product group, defining several iterations for future planning, determining how teams will use iterations to manage backlog items, and so on.

Work in Sprints

Sprints allow developer teams to concentrate on a particular set of tasks. Work assigned to a sprint shows in the sprint backlog of the team. Only product backlogs have sprint backlogs; portfolio backlogs do not.

Sprint Burn-down Chart

The sprint burn-down chart makes it simple to keep track of your progress. For sprint planning, use your team’s Sprint backlog to evaluate the deliverables.

For an iterative approach, each sprint item is assigned to a team member. These tasks are scoped to be completed inside the sprint. You should also keep track of the sprint burn-down chart.

Besides, check in with other teams on dependencies that may affect your team. Regularly update the status of sprint work items as they go from New to Active to Complete.

Besides following the best practices, pair up Azure DevOps with PPM Express to get maximum efficiency out of your agile project. With PPM Express, you can examine and manage all your projects and portfolio status, cost, and progress in one spot.

Furthermore, PPM Express simplifies data analysis and reporting for your projects. It gives you control over the tasks, deadlines, and costs involved in the process. It also enables all projects, portfolios, and other internal data – terms, budgets, and performance indicators – to be connected in one system. 

PPM Express for Azure DevOps 

To get suggested time entries and report time on projects, you can link Azure DevOps projects with PPM Express. Linking projects also helps you analyze the tasks your users completed, allowing you to input exact and relevant time entries. Other benefits of combining it with PPM express:

Azure DevOps Portfolio 

PPM express ensures project portfolio visibility and a 360-degree view of your Azure DevOps activity, allowing you to make informed judgments with high-level data and manage statuses and deliveries with no effort.

In addition, it helps your project adhere to the agile manifesto and data-driven SAFe compliance. Besides, the portfolio management features allow you to see the big picture and make faster decisions with PPM Express’s business intelligence and analytics.

Azure DevOps portfolio

Powerful Reporting

With comprehensive PPM Express reports, you can make wise and quick decisions. Real-time project updates, status management, assessing resources, etc. – you can find all in one place with PPM Express’s agile portfolio management.

Other Tools

Integrated Project Portfolio Management Platform banner PPM Exoress

Apart from Azure DevOps, different teams use different technologies. Besides, PPM Express integrates with various project and task management systems, including Atlassian Jira, Microsoft Project Online, Office 365 Planner, and others, allowing you to see all of your projects in one place.

With PPM Express, you can also create portfolios and establish visibility across all Azure DevOps projects, regardless of how many you have. You can easily see the broad picture by integrating and syncing your project data from Azure DevOps to PPM Express.

You may also take VSTS/TFS agile project management to the next level by including portfolio management methods and high-level reporting that utilizes unified status reports and business intelligence.

Are you interested in giving PPM Express a try? Get a personalized demo or sign up for our free trial, and see the wonders for yourself!

Azure DevOps Tutorial: Agile Project Management
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