Devops Office 365 Project Management

Managing Projects in a Modern World (Part 2)

In my previous post (Managing Projects in a Modern World (Part 1))I showed an example of an integrated Microsoft Teams, Azure DevOps and Project Roadmap environment. This post is all about setting up Azure DevOps to work with Teams and Roadmap

At a high-level we need to:

  1. Create a project
  2. Setup your teams
  3. Configure your work items

1. Create a Project

Navigate to and sign in with your Microsoft account.

If your organization has never used Azure DevOps. That is OK. You get five free licenses. Once your team gets larger or you choose to use more advanced features then there will be a cost associated.

At the top right of the page you will see a button “Create Project”. Click on the “Create Project” button will open a side bar.

  1. Project Name: The project name should reflect the project you are working on and if possible map it to the name of the Microsoft Team you will be creating.
  2. Description: This allows for you to describe what this project is about so anyone looking through the project list in Azure DevOps knows what it is about.
  3. Visibility: Public / Private. Public is used for open source projects. Private will usually be the correct choice
  4. Version Control: You have the choice between Git and Team Foundation Version Control. Git seems to be the most popular choice these days and most modern web developers will be capable of using it.
  5. Work Item Process: This is the most important choice you will make when creating a project. While you can customize the process you choose you cannot switch between processes. So if you choose CMMI but then wanted to move to a scrum process you would not be able too.

Work Item Process is your most important decision. Make sure you understand your options. Click Here to see the Work Item Process Options.

Once you have filled out the form click on “Create”.

It will take about a minute for your new project to get created.

Once the Project has been created, we can configure it to work for us. We don’t need to use Repos, Pipelines, Test Plans or Artifacts.

  1. Click on Project Settings.
  2. Scroll Down.
  3. Turn off Repos.
  4. Turn off Pipelines.
  5. Turn off Artifacts.
  6. Turn of Test Plans.

This does not remove your ability to use any of the tools. It just hides them until you are ready. Simplifying the user experience. When you are ready turn them on.

2. Create your Teams

While still within the project settings form. Select “Teams” under the general drop down.

Click on New Team and add all of your required teams. In this scenario the teams are broken down by role. This could very well be by features or functions.

When creating new teams you have the option to create a new Area path. This is helpful when you want to separate your backlog of tasks to each team. You will also be able to have separate sprint lengths.

The area path is what allows us to have channel specific Kanban boards.

3. Update your work items

For Azure Devops to work with Project Roadmap we need to have a Start Date and a Finish Date on a work item. Depending on the work item process you chose you may or may not have a start and finish dates on your work items.

In the case of this example I chose the “Basic” template which gives us “Epics”, “Issues” and “Tasks”. By default the epic does not have a Start Date or Targeted Date.

I would like to use epics on my project roadmap so to do so we can add the start and finish date.

The easiest way to do this is when creating a new Epic on your back log:

Once you are in the “New Epic” screen, click on the actions button on the far right.

Then click on “Customize”.

This will take you to the organization settings process page.

Click on “New Field”, then use an existing field.

Add the Start Date and Target Date. Your Epic layout should now look like below:

Now, when we create a new Epic, we can add a timeline to it:

Our Azure DevOps environment is now set up and ready for use. The backlogs can start to be populated and added to teams and project roadmaps.

Microsoft Teams Office 365 Project Management SharePoint

Managing projects in a modern world (Part 1)

Last week I wrote a blog post and it got a lot of interest. Just not for the reasons I would of thought. One of the screen shots on the blog post contained an image of dashboard.

Everyone was quite intrigued by this and were wondering what it was. So that is what today is about. This is the first of multiple blog posts showing how you can leverage Azure DevOps, Teams and Project Online to manage projects.

That dashboard is Azure Devops. Microsoft’s developer collaboration tools. It includes repositories(Azure Repos) for code, Kanban boards(Azure Boards), Test Plans(Azure Test Plans) as well as a few other tools targeted to developers.

In our case we are building a brand new intranet and plan to use Azure Boards to manage our workload across a variety teams, Azure Repos to store code for our Custom web parts as well as any scripts we create including site themes and site designs. Last but not least we will use Azure Test Plans to mange the quality of our new intranet.

So how can we setup our environment to ensure:

  • Has a place to communicate
  • Has a place to upload documents
  • Can manage their tasks
  • manage their sprint
  • See the overall project health

Step 1 Setup Azure Devops

  1. Create a new project called Intranet
  2. Create the teams in Azure Devops: “Communications”, “Training”, “Developers”, “Testers”
  3. Define the sprints in our case they are two week long
  4. Assign the sprints to each team
  5. Add your backlog of tasks
  6. Assign tasks to sprints
  7. Add the Delivery Plan extension for Azure DevOps

You will end up with something that looks like this.

Azure DevOps will play the basis for how we manage and plan our tasks. It is more powerful than Planner but can require significantly more effort to setup.

Step 2 Setup Up Teams

  • Create a new Team called Intranet
  • Create four new Channels “Communications”, “Training”, “Developers”, “Testing”
  • * Add a Azure DevOps KanBan board to each Channel aligning the Azure DevOps Teams Kanban to the Microsoft Teams Channel
  • * Configure Azure DevOps connector

* Azure DevOps was called Vistual Studio Team Services. Some of the documentation still references the old name.

All of your Channels should now look something like this

You will also be able have conversations about specific tasks

Step 3 Create a Roadmap

  • Turn on the Project Roadmap feature
  • Create a new Roadmap
  • Create Rows that align to each Azure DevOps Team
  • Add Features from DevOps to track the status and timeline

You will end up with something like the roadmap below.

The next post in this series will go into detail on how to setup Step 1 Azure DevOps. Configuring the iterations, teams and backlogs to work properly with Project and teams.


Join the Party: Letting Guests into your Office 365 Group

You’re a good chef. Cooking food is a favorite pastime, and you are constantly making delicious meals and treats. You’ll often host dinner parties for friends and family, and they come with their own concoctions and unique dishes. Everyone shares in the feast, and your inner circle are professionals at hosting a damn good pot luck!

But you want to share the delicious food with the neighborhood; after all, you have leftovers and you don’t mind new guests joining the party. So when the new family that moved in next door is mulling about on their front lawn, you open your window, invite them over to chat and give them samples of your food. They give the samples a thumbs up, chat with you about their favorite dishes, and even share with you a can’t-miss family recipe. In turn, you give them access to add the recipe to a new online cookbook you’re putting together that will be shared among your pot luck peeps – including your now freshly minted next-door friends.

What just happened here? Well, besides food bringing the neighbors together, this is analogous to providing Guests access to your Office 365 Group. Guests can be invited to join your Group conversations, consume team files, and even join team events.

Often times I have clients that ask about external access for vendors and the plausibility of having people outside the organization participating in the day-to-day activities. And it ranges from just having people “aware” of the conversations happening among the client team all the way to workflow-based document collaboration.

Every group of clients are different for a variety of reasons, but external sharing is a growing request as people become more comfortable with the cloud and managing online content collaboratively. However, sometimes the idea of setting up extranet capabilities can seem daunting. And no one wants to spin up a random cloud space just to share files; there has to be an easier way.

Here’s the cool thing about Guests in Office 365 – Guests do not require an Office 365 license to participate if you have Business Premium or Enterprise subscriptions. This is not a scenario where you have to set up an extranet environment just to get your Guests collaborating in Office 365.


Adding Guests is pretty easy. You add a new Member to a Group like normal, but just put in their email address of choice. Office 365 will do the rest for you. And the new Guest will get an email shortly afterwards confirming their Guest status with access links.


And much like a pot luck, there are some house rules and standards for being a Guest:

  • The first time a Guest accesses the Group site, they will be prompted with an Office 365 message about first-time logging in. However, there is no password to set up – Guests can get straight to the content areas.
  • Group members can only access certain parts of the Group site such as the team Home Page, Notebook, Documents, Pages, and Site Contents. This includes uploading and interacting with files.
  • Guests cannot access the Conversations from the Group Site. This can only be done through email conversations (you have to email the Group email address). If you try and click on the Conversations tab, you will get a friendly error message (and this makes sense, because there is no record for a Guest as a fully-licensed user of Exchange).
  • Regular people in your organization are already Members in Office 365. They don’t need to be invited as Guests. But they will need to be added as Group Members to get them into the Group activities.
  • If you feel like adding a Profile photo or changing the Display Name for a Guest, you’ll have to do it in Azure Active Directory.

The cool thing with Guests is that the functionality allows for a decent amount of collaboration; it does not simply pay lip service to being collaborative and then having a very restricting Guest experience. The Guest can get the full GUI and most functionality much like a normal user.


With the speed, scope, and continual growth of the Office 365 platform, Guest access may tend to get lost as a handy little feature to start collaborating with the right people, right now. But make sure to get organizational buy-in before you start; for as cool as the Guest functionality is, you certain want to align with your organization’s collaboration strategy as well as your I.T. policies and rules.

Hey, maybe a food truck is in your future because of your chef and people skills (and how cool would that be?) But for now, adding Guests is an easy and neighborly way to get more friends in the door having fun at the party.