Implementing Scrum with Visual Studio Online – Part 1

Scrum is a way for teams to work together to develop a product. It is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while
productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value. To know more about Scrum and why it is used its heighly recommended to read the Scrum guide maintained by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland.

Visual Studio Online is the cloud infrastructure for Microsoft Team Foundation Server. Its the online home for development projects. It provides tons of features from hosting your project code, executing your build definitions and managing the complete project delivery pipeline.

Visual Studio Online can be totally free for small teams with 5 members or less which makes it a perfect choice for start-up agile teams as well as enterprise organizations.

In these series of posts, I will discuss the basics of implementing Scrum related activities using VSO. It is very important to keep in mind that Scrum is a lot more than what a technology or a software can provide, Scrum is more about how humans are interacting with each others rather than how they are using a software. However using VSO/TFS or similar systems can provide a lot of essential help during your Scrum journey.

In this first part of the series we will discuss the following topics:

  • Creating a new VSO account.
  • Creating the first project.
  • Adding Scrum team members to the project.
  • Configuring account settings.

Creating a new VSO account

To create a new VSO account, you need to go to, log in using your Microsoft account and follow steps to create a new VSO account. At some stage you will be provided with this screen:

Create VSO account

Here you can define the URL that your team will use to access the service and all team projects associated with it. If you are creating this account for your company, the company name is an excellent candidate to be the value in Account URL field.

In the same screen you have the option to change where you want your service to be hosted.

create VSO account - select region

After clicking on Create Account button and waiting for a few seconds, you will be redirected to your new account home page.

VSO account home page

Creating the first project

Following up from the previous step, in (Create your first project section) you can define your first team project:

create your first project

All you need to do here is to add the name of the project, select the type of source control for it and select the process template to use. By default Scrum is the default template for creating a new project in VSO so we don’t need to change Process template field.

Alternatively if you already have an existing project and you want to create a new one, you can click on the top left link that says Visual Studio Online to navigate to your account home page. then in projects section you can click on new link which opens Create new project dialogue which is exactly the same as Create your first project section I mentioned before.

how to add a new team project

create new project dialogue

After clicking on Create project button, you will be redirected to your new project home page:

new team project home page

Adding Scrum team members

In order to add the rest of your team to have access to the new project, navigate to project home page and click on Manage link in Members section.

add new users

Manage users dialogue will show up where you can click on click on Add button from to left corner and select Add User.

add users

Add users dialogue will show up where you can add Microsoft email addresses of all team members.

add users to project

After clicking Save changes button, an invitation email will be sent to add users to join the project.

Configuring account and project settings

Configuring Account Time Zone

Its important to define the most suitable time zone for your account. Users will still be able to override this by defining their time zone in their profiles. In order to change account settings you need to be logged in as account administrator. Then click on the top left link that says Visual Studio Online to navigate to account home page. Then click on settings icon in the top right bar.

settings icon

Account settings page will show up where you can change time zone.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 10.24.40 AM

 Other account settings

There is a number of other administrative account settings in the page like:

  • Changing account URL
  • Changing how users authenticate to the account
  • Setup billing
  • Connecting to Azure Active Directory.

In the next part of this series we will have a look at how to configure project sprints and releases and how to work with product backlog.

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