TFS & Visual Studio ALM – by Neno Loje

(formerly Team System, VSTS)

Using TFS for non-development projects

January 12th, 2009 · 2 Comments · 8970, 9672, Team Foundation Server, TFS Process Customization, Work Item Customization

Team Foundation Server is easily customizable and equipped with a general purpose workflow or state machine. So you might ask yourself: why not put a non-development or rather related process in TFS instead of using separate software.

Showcase #1: Lead Management

AIT_TeamSystemPro_Team_klein_120x58Since here at AIT TeamSystemPro Team we are TFS consultants we decided to not use a commercial CRM tool for managing our leads but rather customize a team project in TFS for this matter.

Here are a few impressions of the experience:

Leads in Excel 

Work Item queries:

Work Item Queries for our Leads

Work Item layout:

Leads - Work item Layout

in Outlook (via TeamCompanion)

Leads in Outlook

Leads in Outlook (2)

The pretty simple workflow behind it:

lead workflow 

Showcase #2: Customer Support

Needless to say that the TFS support that we offer is tracked using work items as well:

Support Case work item

Customer Support Queries

Showcase #3: List of managed TFS instances

Every TFS instance that we manage has a corresponding record:


Your Feedback

Do you have an interesting idea or have you used your TFS to support a non-dev related process? Feel free to leave me a comment or use the contact link – thanks!


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Chad

    Thanks for your post! There is little to no information about existing companies using TFS as a customer support tool. Appreciate you sharing it what you have done.

    We are considering TFS as a customer support tool for our internal IT help desk…or rather migrating from our existing help desk software to TFS. Another option is providing syncronization between the two.

    Would you recommend TFS as a help desk tool for medium sized companies? I can see how it would be convenient for a small company already using TFS to also use it for customer support but I’m concerned that for a larger company it will not scale as the company grows.

    Feeling like the maintenance of the custom work items and work flow changes may be a pain point in the future. Migrating from TFS2008 to 2010 was painful so I’m leary of getting too deep in the TFS weeds. Particularly since TFS is not our core competency.

    Appreciate any advice you may have.


    Our profile:
    I work for a medium sized company (~400 people). We have about 60 projects that span across 4 lines of business and are growing. Not all projects are using the same template.

    We have some experience with customizing templates in TFS but mostly use the standard stuff that comes with the CMMI template.

  • neno

    @Chad: I do consult teams that use TFS for help desk /support ticketing today. TFS does not offer all features that a professional help desk solution contains, so it really depends on your requirements and expectations.

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