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Articles & Deep Dives Into Microsoft Business Applications with a focus on Power Platform & D365 by the Dynamics Hotdish Team

Effectively Write User Stories with Azure DevOps

In the third blog in this series, we discuss how user stories are a crucial part of agile Dynamics 365 implementations as they let teams outline the desired functionality and capture user requirements. In this blog post, we’ll look at how to use Azure DevOps (ADO) to create user stories that work. Teams may speed up their user story authoring process and improve communication by employing ADO’s features and capabilities, which will lead to better software development outcomes. 

User stories are a way to document what users need to do in order to use Dynamics 365. They emphasize the user’s point of view, outlining their objectives and actions. Teams can gather requirements and break them down into manageable tasks using ADO. Teams can successfully coordinate their development efforts by defining user needs and outlining how to satisfy them. 

To assist in the construction of user stories, ADO provides a wide range of functions and tools. The product backlog items (PBIs) functionality allows teams to record specific job components. PBIs are different from user stories in that they focus on specific tasks rather than the viewpoint of the user. Depending on the needs and preferences of the project, teams can select between user stories and PBIs because of ADO’s flexibility. 

Following a defined framework is essential when creating user stories with ADO. A clear declaration at the beginning of the user story, such as “As a [role], I need to [action] to [benefit],” is advised. Teams can concentrate on understanding the needs of the user rather than coming up with specific solutions by making user stories broad and avoiding premature solutioning. This strategy encourages empathy and helps in the development of user-centric software. 

The features of ADO make task creation and problem-solving talks easier. After user stories are developed, teams can work together to come up with the best solutions to meet the needs of the user. The team might develop tasks throughout this process that specify the precise steps needed to successfully implement the solution. Teams can monitor progress and guarantee that work items are completed efficiently thanks to ADO’s task management capabilities. 

Agile projects require the writing of strong user stories, and Azure DevOps offers a reliable framework for this task. Teams may gather user needs, promote collaboration, and offer user-centric solutions by utilizing the advantages of ADO. ADO gives teams the tools they need to expedite their development procedures and produce products that closely match user requirements, whether they utilize user stories or PBIs. Adopting efficient user story authoring techniques with Azure DevOps improves software projects’ overall success and pleasure. 

Check out our podcast episode All About Azure DevOps, Part 1 where we discuss this topic and more! Ep 23 – All About Azure DevOps, part 1 – Dynamics Hotdish

Come back next time for guidance on how to properly create dependencies among your work items. 

Organize Projects for Success using Epics and Features

In our second blog of this Azure DevOps series, we dive into discussing how to effectively prioritize and organize work items that are essential for success in project management. Epics and features are two words that are frequently used in this context. We will examine the distinctions between epics and features and go over when to use each one. 

An epic is a significant piece of work that symbolizes a project’s grand, overarching objective or goal. It provides the project with a strategic perspective and acts as the highest level of grouping. Epics are frequently used to specify key features or parts of a system. 

In contrast, features are more precise and detailed than epics. They stand for distinct capabilities or features that help achieve the goals described in the epics. User stories or tasks can be subdivided into features, which are subcomponents of epics. 

Together, epics and features offer a hierarchical structure for classifying work items. While features divide the work into smaller, more manageable parts, epics define the overall scope. As an illustration, if the epic is “Account Management,” one of its features might be “Account Creation.” Features enable more thorough planning, requirement identification, and work assignment. 

Using epics and features to build a hierarchy has various advantages. It facilitates structure and allows teams to maintain alignment and focus. It is simpler to recognize dependencies, prioritize activities, and allocate resources efficiently when relevant objects are grouped together. 

Additionally, the hierarchical structure permits concurrent work. Team members with a variety of skill sets can work on several features at the same time, increasing productivity and efficiency. Additionally, it makes it possible to adopt agile approaches like sprints, where work can be split up into small chunks, enabling better planning and progress monitoring. 

Tools for managing and organizing projects successfully include epics and features. Epics offer a high-level perspective and specify the main goals while features divide the work into distinct parts. Project teams may stay organized, prioritize activities, recognize dependencies, and guarantee efficient communication in the direction of project success by using this hierarchical structure. Project management procedures and results can be greatly enhanced by being aware of the distinctions between epics and features as well as when to employ each of them. 

Check out our podcast episode All About Azure DevOps, part 1 where we discuss this topic and more! Ep 23 – All About Azure DevOps, part 1 – Dynamics Hotdish

Come back next week for a deep dive on how to effectively write User Stories for development. 

Increasing Project Success with Azure DevOps

Thanks for coming back to our blog! We are excited to kick off our blog with a series on a tool we all use in our project deployment process: Azure DevOps. 

The appropriate tools can make all the difference in the world of project management. Azure DevOps (ADO) is one such product that has greatly increased in popularity. Project managers and team leaders love it for its adaptability and comprehensive features. ADO can be the ideal answer if you frequently switch between other platforms, like as OneNote, emails, and Post-it notes, to keep track of projects and responsibilities. It enables you to manage a complete project and clearly see who is working on what while providing seamless organization capabilities. Come along with us as we explore the world of ADO and its potential for efficient project management. To get the most out of this fantastic tool, we’ll discuss its essential features, license options, and best practices in this blog series. Prepare yourself for a revealing adventure into the world of Azure DevOps! 

Azure DevOps stands out as a dependable and all-inclusive option when it comes to project management tools. Its seamless integration and navigation will be especially enticing to individuals who are accustomed to using Microsoft programs. Jira and Trello have previously been well-liked alternatives, showing comparable notions of project management and task administration. Microsoft’s approach offers familiarity and consistency, but ADO has the advantage. Moving to ADO can result in a greater appreciation for its features than with other systems. Join us as we examine the benefits and distinctive features of ADO and how it has evolved into the go-to tool for efficient project management. 

The accessibility and affordability of Azure DevOps are two outstanding features. Many users would be pleasantly surprised to learn that their current Microsoft 365 or Dynamics subscription already grants them access to ADO. They can use the capability of this project management application without paying any additional fees, so to speak. The pricing is quite reasonable, even for those who would need to buy licenses, with the first five users being free and additional users just costing $5 per month. ADO is a useful collaboration tool within the Microsoft environment because it is a Microsoft-hosted solution and is purposefully incorporated into a number of licensing packages. This integration demonstrates Microsoft’s understanding of how its tools work together and its dedication to streamlining licensing procedures for improved customer convenience and experience. 

A variety of compelling features offered by Azure DevOps are tailored to various project team responsibilities. The Kanban board, which enables effective task management and organization, is one noteworthy aspect. While developers make use of the code repository section to manage code updates and collaborations, functional consultants frequently use ADO to keep track of customer requirements and project objectives. ADO’s test plans give quality assurance teams a dedicated area to run tests and automate testing procedures. ADO’s capabilities are further increased by the accessibility of pipelines and artifacts, which provide alternatives for automating solution deployment and optimizing development processes. Due to its adaptability, ADO is a crucial tool for project management because it offers separate regions that may be customized to meet the demands of different team members. Whether it’s managing code repositories, scheduling work, keeping track of requirements, or carrying out test plans, Azure DevOps delivers a complete environment that promotes cooperation, boosts productivity, and guarantees project success. 

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for using Azure DevOps. It’s fine that every team and business will use the product in a different way. ADO’s adaptability enables flexibility based on the particular requirements and workload of the team. Although it’s crucial to establish a hierarchy and specify how certain work items, including epics, features, and user stories, will be used, there is still opportunity for customization and tweaking ADO to accommodate preferences. The most important step is to configure it in a way that meets the needs of the company and inform everyone on the team of its intended use. It is simpler to secure buy-in and ensure that ADO is used successfully by setting out clarity and guidelines, which optimizes productivity and streamlines project management procedures. 

As a result, Azure DevOps demonstrates to be a trustworthy and all-inclusive solution for efficient project management. It is a desirable option because of its smooth integration with Microsoft technologies, accessibility through existing licenses, and reasonable pricing. A flexible ecosystem is offered by the Kanban board, code repository, test plans, pipelines, and artifacts to accommodate various team roles and needs. The main lesson here is that there is no one proper method to use ADO, so teams can tailor the tool to meet their unique requirements. Businesses should make the most of ADO’s advantages by establishing a clear hierarchy and disseminating usage instructions, which will encourage teamwork, productivity, and project success. 

Check out our podcast episode All About Azure DevOps, Part 1 where we discuss this topic: Ep 23 – All About Azure DevOps, part 1 – Dynamics Hotdish.

Come back next week as we start to dive into work items available in Azure DevOps: Epics & Features. 

Introducing Our New Blog: Exploring Dynamics 365 CE, Power Platform, and Essential Soft Skills

Greetings! We are excited to announce the debut of our brand-new blog, which intends to serve as your go-to source for everything concerning Dynamics 365 CE, Power Platform, and the essential soft skills that support your professional development. We are pleased to welcome you to the realm of insightful analysis and professional expertise presented by our distinguished authors, Ashley Steiner, Ali Nelson, and Liz McGlennen. 


Why this Blog? 

You may already be familiar with our highly regarded Dynamics Hotdish podcast, which has been providing excellent information and engaging debates on a range of Dynamics-related subjects for more than two years. With this blog, we hope to enhance learning for our listeners and provide them with extra materials. We recognize that the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform environment is continually changing and that it can be difficult to stay current with the newest features, best practices, and soft skills. That’s where we come in. 


Meet the Authors 

Ashley Steiner: Ashley has been a Dynamics CRM administrator for more than ten years and has seen personally how the software has developed. Her comprehensive knowledge of the platform and its features will enable you to make the most of Dynamics 365 CE. 

Ali Nelson: Ali has a special talent for utilizing the Power Platform to transform complicated business needs into seamless solutions as a professional functional consultant. Her advice will help you through the complexities of creating reliable applications. 

Liz McGlennen: In the technical world, soft skills are frequently disregarded, but Liz is here to alter that. She will assist you with developing crucial soft skills like communication, leadership, and problem-solving with her background in psychology and a passion for professional growth. 


Topics We’ll Explore 

We’ll cover a variety of subjects in our blog, such as complex Dynamics 365 customization methods, Power Automate and Power Apps tips and tricks, efficient data management procedures, and much more. Additionally, we understand the value of soft skills in advancing careers, so you can anticipate pieces on developing your interpersonal skills, controlling stress, and overcoming obstacles at work. 


Join Us on This Journey 

Our blog will have something to offer everyone, regardless of whether you are an experienced Dynamics professional or are just getting started with the platform. We invite you to interact with our material, post questions, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

The crew is eager to start this new project, and we genuinely hope that this blog will be a useful tool for you as you explore Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Keep an eye out for our next articles and get ready to advance your abilities! 

Thank you for being a part of our community. 


Warm regards, 

The Dynamics Hotdish Team 

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