Plan and track your project with work items
Team Services | Previous versions
Feature availability: The new work item experience is currently only available from VS Team Services. This topic describes how to track work using the new form. If you connect to an on-premises Team Foundation Server (TFS), see Add work items to plan and track your project (TFS).
You add work items to plan and manage your project. You use different types of work items to track different types of work - such as tasks, features or user stories, test cases and bugs, risks or issues, and more. You can describe the work to be done, assign work, track status, and coordinate efforts within your team.
Different types of work items are used to track features, user experiences, code defects, tasks, and issues. You can link work items to one another, as well as to changesets and source code files. As the following image shows, each work item form comes with a number of controls, fields, and tabs.
Note: Depending on the process you chose when creating your team project--Scrum, Agile, or CMMI--the types of work items you can create will differ. For example, backlog items may be called product backlog items (PBIs), user stories, or requirements. All three are similar: they describe the customer value to deliver and the work to be performed.
For an overview of all three processes, see Choose a process.
Define new work
Here we show how to add work items from the web portal. Go here to learn about other supported clients.
From a web browser, connect to the team project that you want to work in. For example, the Fabrikam, Inc. team navigates to
If you haven’t been added as a team member, get added now.
Enter a title and then save the work item. Before you can change the State from its initial default, you must save it.
Update work status
As work progresses, team members can update the state and reassign it as needed.
While the workflow states differ for different work item types, they usually follow a progression from New or Active to Closed or Done. The following image shows the work flow states for the Agile process user story. If you want to discard a work item, change the state to Removed.
Typical workflow progression:
Removed work items remain in the data store and can be reactivated by changing the State. If you want to permanently remove a work item, you can delete it.
With each update, the Reason field also updates and changes are recorded in the History field which you can view through the History tab.
To find work items based on their history, see History & auditing.
Link items to support traceability
By linking work items using Related or Dependent link types, you can track work that is dependent on other work. Each work item contains one or more tabs with link controls. These controls support linking the work item to one or more objects.
Linked objects are grouped under the link type, such as Parent, Child, Related, and so on. To learn more about each link type, see Manage dependencies, link work items to support traceability.
Team Foundation version control (TFVC) lets you link work items to version control changesets or versioned source code files by using the Changeset and Versioned Item link types. When you check in pending changes or use My Work to check in changes, work items are automatically linked to your changes.
Git lets you link work items to commits by using the Commit link type. To learn how, see Manage and commit your changes.
Add to the discussion
Add and review comments made about the work being performed by going to the discussion section.
Click the discussion icon, which indicates how many comments have been added, to move your focus to the discussion section. Click the full screen icon to expand the display of the discussion section within the form.
Within the discussion section, you can use the @mention control to notify another team member about the discussion. Simply type @ and their name.
To reference a work item, use the #ID control. Type # and a list of work items that you've recently referenced will appear from which you can select.
Copy the URL
From the web portal, simply copy the URL from the web browser address or hover over the title and then click the copy-to-clipboard icon.
In Visual Studio, right-click the work item tab to copy the URL. The URL opens the work item in the web portal.
Keep in mind that the work item tracking experience and forms that appear in Visual Studio won't show several of the features that the web portal makes available.
Once you've added several work items, you can use additional features to get notified of changes, create queries, define status and trend charts, plus more.
Work item form controls
|Copy URL of work item to clipboard (appears on hover over work item title)|
|Go to Discussions section|
|Save work item and keep open|
|Save and close work item|
|Refresh work item with latest changes|
|Undo changes to work item|
|Open History tab|
|Open Links tab|
|Open Attachments tab|
|/||Enter or exit full display mode of a section within the form|
|/||Collapse or expand a section within the form|
|Open Actions menu for additional work item tasks|
|Add new work item and link to existing work item (May appear under Actions menu)|
|Move work item to a different team project (May appear under Actions menu)|
|Copy work item and optionally change work item type (May appear under Actions menu)|
|Email work item (May appear under Actions menu)|
|Storyboard with PowerPoint (May appear under Actions menu)|
|Recycle work item (May appear under Actions menu)|
|Add new Git repository branch (May appear under Actions menu)|
See also Keyboard shortcuts.
Plan your project
The quickest way to plan your project is to create your backlog. If you have a number of product backlog items, user stories, requirements, or tasks that you want to bulk add, you can use Excel or Project.
If you are planning a product suite and managing a portfolio of projects across several teams, you’ll want to read (New) Manage work across the enterprise.
Feature availability: The Start storyboarding menu option is only available from VS Team Services. However, from TFS, you can click the Start Storyboarding link from the Storyboard tabs from a backlog item, or simply open PowerPoint. See Storyboard your ideas using PowerPoint for requirements and usage.
You can storyboard your ideas using PowerPoint to bring your ideas to life with storyboard shapes, text, animation, and all the other features that PowerPoint Storyboarding provides. From any work item, you can open PowerPoint by choosing the Start storyboarding menu option.
Feature availability: The Development section is only available for team projects configured with Git for source control. Go here to learn how to drive your Git development process starting by adding a branch for your work items.
Customize your form
You can add custom fields and change the layout of the work item form. To start, open a work item of the type you want to customize and then click the customize option from the Actions menu.
The Process>Work Item Types page will open for the work item type you selected. Follow the instructions provided in Customize a process.
If the menu option isn't active, you don't have permissions to modify the process. Ask your project collection admin to grant you permissions.
Find or list work items
Type an ID in the Search work items box and then choose the search icon.
Use the context menu to add a filter based on assignment, status, a keyword, or a work item type.
Or, using the context menu, add filters to find items based on assignment, status, a keyword, or a work item type. For example, enter A=@Me T=Task to list all tasks assigned to you. Use the =, :, and – operators to specify the operations: Equals, Contains, and Not, respectively.
Once you have a results list, you can modify the filter criteria to refine your search results.
Clients that support tracking work items
You can add work items from various clients, such as:
- From the web portal backlog pages, you can add user stories, backlog items, features, and epics from the quick add panel.
- From the Team Explorer add-in to Visual Studio, you can add most types of work items from the Work page.
- If you work in Eclipse, you can create work items using Team Explorer Everywhere.
- From Test Manager or the web portal, you can can create test cases that automatically link to a user story or product backlog item.
- You can create bugs from the web portal, Visual Studio, or when testing with Test Manager.
See Choose the client to support your tasks for an overview of all clients that connect to your team project.
Team context and new work items
The system automatically assigns new work items the default area and iteration paths based on the team context. Work items you add from the team dashboard (new work item widget) and queries page are assigned the team default iteration. Work items you add from a team backlog or board, are assigned the team default backlog iteration.
To learn more or to change team defaults, see Set team defaults.
You navigate to your team context from the top navigation bar.
Choose Browse All if the name you want doesn't appear in the list.