Work in sprints

You can use sprints to schedule your work in intervals of time. You can also break down the work to be done in the sprint, to better understand who's doing what. Use the task board for daily work and to track progress.

Assign items from the backlog to the sprint

  1. If you haven't already, create your backlog and specify your sprint schedule.

  2. From the backlog page, move the items that you expect to work on into the current sprint.

    Move tasks into the current sprint 

    That’s your initial guess at what you’ll be able to do in the sprint. Next, you’ll define tasks, estimate that work, and use your team’s capacity to make sure it fits in the sprint.

Set your team's capacity

Setting capacity helps you make sure you’re taking on the right amount of work in the sprint. And, as you work day-to-day, you’ll be able to see if your team is on track.

  1. Go to the capacity tab for the sprint and set the daily capacity for each team member.

    Setting capacity per day for team members 

    If you have teammates who work on multiple teams, set capacity accordingly.

  2. If you have days during this sprint where the whole team is off, set them so the sprint capacity reflects that.

    Setting days off for the team 
  3. Individual team members can enter their days off, too.

    Setting days off for individuals 
  4. If you assign work by activities when you plan your sprint, allocate individual capacities to an activity.

    Setting activity types 

Break the items down into tasks

  1. In the sprint backlog, add a task.

    Adding tasks to a backlog item
  2. Give the task a name, and estimate the work it will take.

    Name the task and estimate the amount of work
  3. After you've added some tasks, your backlog looks something like this.

    What a backlog looks like
In addition, you can reorder items and re-parent tasks by moving them to a new location or under a different story/PBI. You can also move items to a different sprint or back to the backlog.

Use the task board

The task board is at the heart of daily standups that occur in Scrum. Let's look at some of the things you can do with the task board to facilitate these meetings and visualize progress.

  1. Move tasks on the task board to reflect their current state.

    Move tasks  
  2. You can assign a task to a specific person.

    Change an assignment on the taskboard 
  3. Update the remaining work by either using the drop-down list, or typing a specific value. 

    As you change the amount of remaining work, or move tasks from one state to another, the amount of remaining work for that column updates to reflect your changes.

  4. If you discover work during the sprint, use the plus sign to add a task to the backlog item.

  5. You can group tasks by people or filter tasks by a person. Stories where they don't have any tasks are collapsed.  

    Group by people or filter by a person

In addition, you can re-parent tasks by moving them under a new story/PBI. You can also move stories/PBIs to a different sprint or to the backlog.

We just walked through using the task board, including changing the state of work items, updating hours, and changing assignments.

Q & A

Q: Can I estimate my tasks or capacity in something other than hours?

A: Yes. The remaining work field on the Task work item is just an integer, as is the capacity field in capacity per day. Just make sure that you use the same measurement for both fields, and ignore the little 'h' when it appears.

Q: Is there a quick way to assign work to an activity or a person?

A: Yes. If you have the Work details pane turned on for the sprint backlog, you can drag and drop a work item onto the person or activity to assign it.

Q: How are tasks handled when I move a story/PBI to a different sprint or back to the backlog?

A: Tasks that have been completed for a sprint remain assigned to the sprint. Tasks still in progress are moved with the story/PBI to the sprint or backlog. 

Q: How can I tell if my team is on track to finish by the end of the sprint?

A: The task board chart can help you see your progress against the ideal trendline of completing work.

Sprint progress chart showing ideal trendline and actual work completed 

Note that the chart does not display information for dates that are not part of the standard work week, such as weekends.  A miniature version of this chart appears on your team home page. You can also choose to visualize progress in other ways.

Q: I don't like seeing an initial spike of work in the task board chart. How can I avoid that?

A: If you prefer to see a smooth burndown of work without an initial spike, set the first day of your sprint as a non-working day so everyone can add their tasks before charting begins.

Q: How can I tell when I have enough work for a sprint?

A: As you add estimated tasks to the items in the sprint backlog, you can tell how each task uses up your capacity.

You can see whether your team, as a whole, has the capacity to complete the work.

A view of work for all team members 

If you assign work to individuals when you plan the sprint, you can see whether each individual has the capacity for the work assigned to him.

A view of the work by team member 

Or, if you assign work to activities, you can make sure each activity is within capacity.

A view of the work by activity type 

The colors of the capacity bars help you understand whether you still have capacity remaining, whether you are over capacity, or whether you are simply looking at the total work without any reference to capacity.

Assess capacity at a glance 

Q: Why does the drop-down on the task board only contain certain names?

A: The task board is designed to help your team manage their work, so it only contains the names of team members. 

Q: Can I track my work if I belong to more than one team?

A: Yes.  Track your work for each team you belong to.

Q: Can I predict how much work my team can accomplish?

A: Yes. Learn how to  forecast a sprint.

Q: Is there a limit to how many tasks appear on the task board?

A: Yes. The limit is 1000 tasks.

Q: Where can I learn more about working in sprints?

A:  Start by reading some of the white papers for ALM, particularly the ones on sprint planning  and sprint retrospectives.

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