August 23, 2018

Should I Migrate From TFS to ALM?

Application Lifecycle Management

Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS) is used for many activities across development. Source code management. Reporting. Work item tracking. Test management. And application lifecycle management (ALM).

It’s built on top of Microsoft Visual Studio, which makes it easy for development teams to use initially. But TFS isn’t perfect.  

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Why Migrate From TFS?

Many developers are migrating from TFS to Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS). And many more are considering a migration.

Here’s why.


TFS is an on-premises tool that connects to an intranet server. VSTS is cloud-based.

So, VSTS offers more flexibility and collaboration. Teams across the globe can work together across the development lifecycle. And that’s why many development teams are pushing for a TFS migration.

But VSTS may not have everything you need to effectively manage the application lifecycle. 

TFS, VSTS, and GitHub

There are also some fears about what Microsoft’s recent GitHub acquisition will mean for both TFS and VSTS.

Will TFS and VSTS go away? Will they change? Should you migrate from TFS to VSTS? Or is it time to consider an alternative?

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TFS and ALM Tools

TFS can do ALM, to an extent. But its abilities are light compared to dedicated ALM tools. And migrating to VSTS might not give you everything you need.

So, if you’re considering a migration from TFS, you may want to consider a toolset that covers everything:

TFS for Source Control

TFS supports two types of source control. The first is centralized source control with its own repository — Team Foundation Version Control. The second is distributed source control with Git.

However, TFS can struggle to scale as your codebase grows larger and more complex.

Scalable Source Control With the Right Tools

Other source control tools are more scalable.

Helix Core offers centralized version control with support for Git. It can also scale to support distributed global teams and thousands of daily transactions.

TFS Requirements Management Is Light

TFS requirements management has very light capability. You can manage requirements (or tasks or user stories) in TFS.

But it lacks requirements traceability across development. And TFS requirements management is hard to customize and maintain for large-scale teams across distributed sites. 

You also can’t version a requirements document. This makes requirements review processes tricky. It’s difficult to know who’s reviewed which requirements. Or whether the requirements you’re looking at are the latest version. 

The same holds true even if you migrate to VSTS.

And in many cases, you’re stuck storing requirements documents in SharePoint — away from your other work items. So, while it's possible to use TFS requirements management, it’s certainly a challenge.

ALM Tools Make Requirements Management Easy

ALM tools offer more requirements management abilities.

In Helix ALM, you can manage both requirements and requirements documents. Every version of a requirements document is tracked. The review process is transparent. And you always know you’re looking at the latest version of requirements.

It’s easy to link requirements to tests, bugs, and code. You can even visualize the links in a traceability matrix.

And if a requirement changes, you’ll be able to do an impact analysis — and find out exactly what else is impacted by that change.

TFS Testing Is Limited

TFS offers some testing capabilities. And TFS is primarily used for manual tests and unit tests.

You can create a test from a requirement (or task or user story). But you can’t add test variants. So, if you want to run a test on multiple browsers, you’d have to manually run it for each browser type.

And it’s difficult to track testing efforts and test results in TFS. You don’t have visibility in test steps that passed or failed. That make it a challenge to create the audit trail for compliance.

Even if you migrated to VSTS, you wouldn't be able to create a test plan. 

ALM Tools Let You Test More

ALM tools offer more testing features.

In Helix ALM, you can create tests from requirements (and issues). You can add test variants, so you can test more in fewer steps. You can even track and report on automated tests (including .NET tests) within the tool.

You’ll also get visibility into all of your testing efforts. You’ll know which tests — and which test steps — have passed or failed. That makes it easy to measure progress — and create reports for compliance.

TFS Bug Tracking Is Lacking

TFS includes some bug tracking capabilities. Yes, you can create and track bugs in TFS, but it doesn't hold up as a bug tracking tool.

TFS lacks relationships between bugs and failed tests. The same holds true for VSTS (unless you buy an add-on). And that makes it a challenge to fix the bug.

ALM Tools Go Beyond Bug Tracking

ALM tools do more than just track bugs or work items.

More than a bug tracking tool, Helix ALM helps you understand bugs. You’ll be able to track bugs back to failed tests and requirements. So, you’ll know exactly what went wrong — and that makes it easier to fix.

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Benefits of Adding an ALM Tool

Using TFS for ALM may not be enough for your team. By migrating your ALM activities from TFS to Helix ALM, you’ll give your team a boost.

Integrate With Everything (Including Visual Studio)

Keep using Microsoft Visual Studio as your IDE. Helix ALM integrates with it. You can manage your issues in Visual Studio — and keep both tools up-to-date. And you can even link a commit to a bug or a requirement.

It doesn’t matter where your code is stored — TFS, VSTS, Git, Helix Core. You can commit your code and link it back to a work item, bug, task, test, or requirement. This streamlines your software build process. You’ll rest easy knowing issues, tasks, and code are linked. And if you need a requirements document in Microsoft Word, you can easily export it.

Plus, Helix ALM has a Jira integration and a Slack app. That makes it easier for teams to collaborate on requirements, tests, and issues.

Choose Your Development Methodology

In VSTS, you have to be Agile. But your team might be more comfortable with hybrid Agile development.

With Helix ALM, you’re free to choose your development methodology. So, be Agile, hybrid Agile, or Waterfall.

Accelerate Development

Helix ALM helps you accelerate development and ship on time.

You’ll have:

  • Efficient requirements reviews
  • Thorough testing
  • Fast bug resolution.

Plus, you’ll have visibility across the development lifecycle. So, you’ll always know what work has been done — and how much is left to go.

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Ready to Migrate From TFS?

See how Helix ALM makes it easy to migrate from TFS.

Try Helix ALM  See It In Action

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