When it comes to application lifecycle management (or ALM), which software tool do you prefer - Jira or Microsoft Team Foundation Server (or TFS)? While Jira from Atlassian is ranked no. 1 in project planning and issue tracking, Microsoft TFS is rated highly in project management.

Jira Vs TFS - Overview 

What is Jira

Developed by Atlassian, the Jira tool is a project and bug tracking tool that is used for both project planning and issue management. Initially released in 2002, Jira is available both as a cloud-based SaaS service and a commercial licensed tool. Developed using Java, Jira can also facilitate team collaboration and individual task delivery.

How does Jira work? For each assigned project-related task, you can open an issue Jira tickets that include the task description and can track the progress of the task. In addition to project and bug tracking, the Jira tool is now used within Agile and Scrum teams to provide work transparency and time-tracking capabilities.

What is TFS

Developed by Microsoft, Team Foundation Server (or TFS) is an open-source code management tool that is widely used for Microsoft .NET development. This ALM tool from Microsoft provides diverse capabilities including work item management, Waterfall or Scrum-based project planning, version control, along with deploying and testing features. Initially released in 2005, TFS is available as a SaaS product along with commercial licenses.

With the acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft, TFS also supports source code control along with software builds that enable continuous development and deployment. Like Jira, Microsoft TFS also supports Agile development particularly among Microsoft customers already having licensed products.

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Jira Vs TFS: Key Difference

Next, let us look at the 5 key differences between the Jira and TFS tools with regards to the following points:

Management modules

On its part, Jira supports multiple management modules including ALM, issue tracking and management, software development, and customer service.

On the other hand, Microsoft TFS supports source code management, version control, ALM, issue tracking, and software development. Additionally, project management is facilitated through its synchronization with Microsoft Project tools.

Reporting

Thanks to the use of the Jira Query Language (or JQL), Jira has simplified reporting by tracking every task and issue in the ongoing project. JQL enables you to easily filter the issues and generate the required report.

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On its part, Microsoft TFS can also generate reports easily by filtering team tasks, issues, and backlogs. TFS also allows you to generate pre-configured reports that are an essential part of the MS SQL Server reporting services. 

Integration

Both Jira and TFS support a range of IDE tools. While Jira has in-built IDE connectors for MS Visual Studio, IntelliJ, and Eclipse, TFS supports IDEs like Eclipse, IntelliJ, Visual Studio, and Android Studio.

Additionally, both tools allow you to extend their functionality through third-party tools. On its part, TFS allows you to install third-party solutions from its marketplace – or even order customized solutions. With Jira, you have the choice of downloading and installing mobile apps from the Atlassian marketplace. With over 2,500 apps that you can use, Jira also allows you to build your own apps and plugins with its APIs.

Functionality

With regards to the use of its features, Microsoft TFS allows limited functionality with its free version and complete functionality with its paid version. While this mode makes it simple, it also limits the functionality for its users.

On the other hand, with Jira, you have access to the complete suite of products including the Core Jira, Jira service desk, and Jira software. Besides, Jira can extend its functionality through integration with other Atlassian software tools like Statuspage, Confluence, Trello, and Bitbucket.

Agile mode of working

As mentioned before, both Jira and Microsoft TFS support the Agile-Scrum environment and project management. Jira supports both Scrum and Kanban dashboards – out-of-the-box and customized. 

Microsoft TFS also supports Agile practices including Kanban boards from its TFS 2012 version. Using TFS, you can manage other project management tasks including gathering software requirements, coding, and testing – along with working with the product backlog and task board.

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 Jira Vs TFS: About Project Planning

How do Jira and Microsoft TFS perform when it comes to project planning? Here are some properties that are either supported by both tools – or exist in just one of them:

  • Hierarchical tasks (or support for parent-child task relationships) is supported on both tools.

  • Task dependencies (or relationships that determine the sequential execution of tasks) are supported on both Microsoft TFS and Jira (using issue linking).

  • Gantt charts (or bar charts that visually depict the project schedule) are supported on Jira (through third-party plugins) but not on MS TFS. PERT (or Program Evaluation Review Technique) charts are not supported on either tool.

  •  Resource management (or managing both human and automated resources) is supported on TFS but not on Jira.

  • Time tracking (or estimating the duration of project-related tasks) is available in Jira (through plugins) but not on TFS – but can be enabled through third-party tools.

  • Cost tracking (or the property that tracks project expenses) is available in Jira (through third-party plugins) but not in MS TFS. 

  • Support for Scrum (including sprints and burn-down charts) and for Kanban (including task visualization on boards) is included in both the tools. For Jira, these properties are enabled through the Jira Agile add-on.

  • Project portfolio management (or managing and prioritizing multiple projects) is supported on Jira (through plugins) but not on TFS.

Additional project planning properties that are not supported on either tool include:

  • Recurring tasks (or defining tasks that are repeated)

  • Milestone tracking (or monitoring a major project milestone through completion of its included tasks)

  • Critical path and chain management. While the critical path method includes the set of tasks that cannot be delayed without increasing the project timeline, the critical chain method includes resource constraints into the critical path method.

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 Jira Vs TFS: How does Jira compare against TFS

Here is a comparison table that shows the main differences between Jira and Microsoft TFS:

 
Jira
TFS
Initial release year
2002
2005
Developer company
Atlassian
Microsoft
Web architecture
Yes
Yes (on its SaaS model)
Supported operating systems
Windows, Linux, Solaris
Windows
Management models
ALM, software development, issue tracking, customer service management
ALM, issue tracking, software development management, source code repository
Mobile app support
Android, Apple iOS
Android, Apple iOS, Windows Phone – all through third-party apps
Native mobile support
Full support
Partial support
API support
Yes (Java, REST)
Yes (REST)
Repositories
Yes (Git, BitBucket)
Yes (Git, Subversion, TFVC)
Hosting
Enterprise using data centers, cloud platforms, and on-premises server
On-premise server and cloud hosting (VSTS)
Version control
No in-built support for version control
Available with Git repository for version control – with centralized TFVC and distributed version control
Integration
Integration with BitBucket for issue tracking and project traceability
Integration with MS Visual Studio for automated code builds and deployment
Authentication
Yes using LDAP and password
Yes using the password, HTTP authentication, and Active Directory
Scalability
From single to unlimited users
From single to unlimited users
Extendable
Yes – using Atlassian marketplace
Yes – using Visual Studio marketplace
Pricing
Free trial version available along with paid version starting from $10 per month (maximum 10 users)Value for money – based on the availability of different pricing models and features
Free use (for up to 5 users) available along with paid version starting from $30 per month (maximum 10 users)Expensive – but can offer value for money depending on your use of its features, deployment and builds, and source code repositories.

Final Verdict

So what is the final verdict on which of these ALM tools are better – Jira or TFS? Thanks to its support for third-party plugins and other tools, Jira is generally more popular than TFS. Additionally, being an open-source tool, Jira is widely used for project management and issue tracking.

As shown in this comparison guide, both Jira and TFS have their share of pros and cons – and must be selected based on the tool functions that you are planning to use. While TFS is slightly more expensive, it can offer value for your money if you are utilizing its wide range of features.