Add work items to plan and track your project

Last Update: 3/29/2017

TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

IMPORTANT

Feature availability: The new web form provides many additional features. If you connect to Visual Studio Team Services or the web portal for TFS 2017 or later versions, see Add work items to plan and track your project.

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.

Work item form to track features or user stories

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.

Add work items to define new work

You can start adding work items once you connect to a team project. If you don't have a team project yet, create one in Team Services or set one up in an on-premises TFS.

Here we show how to add work items from the web portal. For additional clients that you can use, see Clients that support tracking work items.

  1. From a web browser, connect to the team project that you want to work in. For example, the Fabrikam, Inc. team navigates to http://fabrikamprime:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/Fabrikam%20Fiber%20Website/.
    If you haven't been added as a team member, get added now.

  2. From a team home page, you can choose the type of work item you want to create.

    Home page -  create work items

    Work items you add are automatically scoped to your team's area and iteration paths. To change the team context, see switch team project or team focus.

  3. Enter a title and then save the work item. Before you change the default State, you must save it.

    Product backlog item work item form

    You can add tags to any work item to filter backlogs and queries.

Update work items as work progresses

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 Completed or Done. The following image shows the work flow states for a product backlog item. If you want to discard a work item, change the state to Removed.

Typical workflow progression:

  • Create a product backlog item in the default state, New.
  • Change the state from New to Approved.
  • Change the state from Approved to Committed.
  • Change the state from Committed to Done.

Atypical transitions:

  • Change the state from New to Removed.
  • Change the state from Removed to New.
  • Change the state from Approved to Removed.
  • Change the state from Committed to Approved.
  • Change the state from Done to Committed.
User story workflow, Agile process

Removed work items remain in the data store and can be reactivated by changing the State.

With each update, changes are recorded in the History field which you can view through the History tab.

View change history

To find work items based on their history, see History & auditing.

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.

Link control tab from the web portal

Link controls provided in a work item form

Some work item types have two or more link control tabs. Each tab is designed to support specific types of links and restricts the types of link relationships made. To learn more, see Manage dependencies, link work items to support traceability.

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. To customize a work item type, see Customize your work tracking experience.

Switch team project or team focus

Several features depend on the team project or team that you have selected. For example, dashboards, backlogs, and board views will change depending on the context selected.

When you add a work item, the system references the default area and iteration paths defined for 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 change team defaults, see Set team defaults.

You navigate to your team context from the top navigation bar. The method changes slightly depending on the platform you work from.

Click the name of the team project/team and select a team or team project that you've recently visited. If you don't see the team or team project you want, click Browse all to browse all team projects and teams.

Choose another team from the team project menu

Clients that support tracking work items

You can add work items from various clients, such as:

For an overview of all clients that connect to your team project, see Tools and clients that connect to Team Services and TFS.

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.

Get the URL for a work item

From the web portal, simply copy the URL from the web browser address or open the context menu for the work item ID hyperlink and choose the Copy shortcut.

In Visual Studio, right-click the work item tab to copy the URL. The URL opens the work item in the web portal.

Email a hyperlink for a work item