Work as a stakeholder

Last Update: 10/24/2016

Team Services | TFS "15" | TFS 2015 | Previous versions

With stakeholder access, anyone on your team can check project status and provide feedback. Stakeholders can track project priorities and provide direction, feature ideas, and business alignment to a team. They can contribute to plans by adding and modifying work items.

Feature availability: Platform and version dependent features are annotated as follows:
- Team Services - Available from Visual Studio Team Services (cloud service)
- TFS - Available from Team Foundation Server (on-premises)

Go here to determine your platform or TFS version.

Stakeholders contribute to team projects through the web portal using any supported browser. Within a team project, stakeholders can perform the following primary tasks by navigating to a hub/page or their account profile.

Task Hub, Page, or Account Team Services TFS 2015 TFS 2015.2
View team dashboards 1 Home checkmark checkmark checkmark
View, add, and modify items on backlogs 2, 3
View, and modify items on sprint backlogs
Work, Backlogs/Backlog checkmark checkmark checkmark
View, and modify items (Kanban) 3, 4
Add tasks to the checklist (Kanban) 4
View the cumulative flow diagram
View, and modify items (task board) 3, 4
Work, Backlogs/Board checkmark checkmark checkmark
View, create, and modify work items 4
View, create, and save queries
Work, Queries checkmark checkmark checkmark
Submit, view, and change your feedback responses Work checkmark checkmark checkmark
Change work item type Work checkmark
Follow changes made to work items Work checkmark
Set personal alerts for changes to work items Account settings checkmark checkmark checkmark
View releases 5
Approve a release
Release checkmark checkmark


  1. Does not include access to the welcome page
  2. Does not support changing the backlog priority order
  3. Does not support updating status by moving cards on the board
  4. Stakeholders can assign existing tags to work items, but not create new tags
  5. Stakeholders can only view and approve releases.

If you choose a feature that's not available to you as a stakeholder, you'll receive an error message indicating that you have insufficient permissions when you try to complete the task.

Note: The images you see from your web portal may differ from the images you see in this topic. These difference results from updates made to Team Services or your on-premises TFS. However, the basic functionality available to you remains the same unless explicitly mentioned.
For an overview of the administration context and the new navigation experience supported in Team Services, see Work in the web portal.

Add user as a stakeholder

Stakeholder access support business owners and analysts and other team members who don't contribute to code, build, and test activities. They contribute by adding ideas to the backlog, adding context and information to work items, and reviewing status and progress. All members of an organization who don't use Visual Studio but want to contribute to work item tracking and monitor progress can be assigned as a stakeholder.

Stakeholder access provides free access to Team Services and to on-premises TFS team projects. Stakeholders don't have to have a client access license (CAL). This view restricts functionality so that your organization complies with the end-user license agreement for Team Foundation Server. For more information, see Visual Studio licensing white paper.

For information on adding stakeholder accounts:

Team Services:  Add users in Visual Studio Team Services
On-premises TFS:  Change access levels

Only account owners or members of the Team Foundation Server Administration group can add accounts to get Stakeholder access.

Note:  If you cancel purchases of Team Services users in your account, the access level of the account owner and the next four people to sign in to the account will be set to Basic. Team Services provides five free users with Basic access to each account. Subsequent users to sign in will have their access level reduced to Stakeholder. This means that these users would have access to fewer features.

First time signing in

  1. If you're connecting to Team Services, click the link provided in the email invitation you should have received.

    Or, open a browser window and enter the URL for the web portal.

    Team Services:

    On-premises TFS: http://ServerName:8080/tfs/

    For example, to connect to the server named FabrikamPrime, type http://FabrikamPrime:8080/tfs/.

  2. Enter your credentials. If you aren't able to sign in, you need to be added as a member to a team and added to Stakeholder access.

  3. To connect to a team project, choose Browse.

    Browse team projects

    If you don't see a project listed, contact the project administrator for your team and ask them to add you to the project.

  4. From the Overview dashboard, you can open the backlog that tracks work. Or, you can create a work item to track new work.

    Add a work item from home page

    You might see different work item types in your view based on the process selected for your team project: Scrum, Agile, or CMMI.

    If you don't see these options in one of the dashboards for your team, contact your team admin and ask that they provide the New work item and Work links widgets on a dashboard for you to use.

Check the backlog or add new work

Work appears in the backlog in priority order.

  1. To view or edit a work item, select it and choose Enter.

    Backlog page with work items in priority order

  2. To add a new item, select the type and then name it. Your items are added to the bottom of the list.

    Add a backlog item from the quick add panel

Check work in progress

To view the team's work status, open the board. Choose an item to open or edit it.

View Kanban board

Find work assigned to you, or query for other work items

Open the Queries page to see the list of work items assigned to you.

Queries page, items assigned to you

Or, open any of the queries defined in the Shared Queries folder.

Run a shared query

And, you can create new queries or edit existing queries and save them under My Queries folder.

Query Editor

Create a bug

You can create any type of work item listed on the New menu. Types listed can differ among different projects.

  1. Open a bug.

    Open bug work item form

  2. Fill out the form and save it. A field with a yellow background indicates you need to enter valid data.

    Fill out the bug work item form

    Manage bugs provides more info on capturing bug information.

**Note: **A caution icon on a tab indicates values that violate validation rules. You must correct information on that tab in order to save the work item. To learn more about each of the default work item types, see one of these topics: Scrum, Agile, or CMMI.

To learn more about the latest features available to you, see:

Features stakeholders can't access

If you need access to these features, you need to be added to either the Basic or Advanced access level group:

  • Change the priority of an item within a backlog
  • Delete work items or move work items to another team project
  • Create shared queries, view charts, and modify the home page
  • Access the full set of features of the Code, Build, Test, and Release hubs
  • Participate in team rooms, which capture interactive, detailed conversations about the project
  • View the Welcome page
  • View administrative pages that support managing membership, permissions, area and iteration paths, and licensing.

These features support the daily work of product owners, team leads, developers, testers, and project administrators.

For Team Services pricing, go here.

For on-premises TFS, go here for a comparison chart of access levels.

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 as shown. Choose Browse All if the name you want doesn't appear in the list.

Backlog page, old nav, switch team context
Tip: To enable or disable the new navigation experience, open your user account menu. For more information, see Work in the web portal, Admin context.

You navigate to your team context from the top navigation bar as shown. Choose Browse All if the name you want doesn't appear in the list.

Backlog page, new nav, switch team comtext

To view or create work items for another team project or team, switch to that project.

Work in Team Explorer

You can use Team Explorer and other Team Foundation clients to add, modify, and query for work items. Some features, such as the product backlog and Kanban board, you can only view through the web portal.

In Team Explorer, if you choose a feature that's not available for stakeholders, you'll just get an error that you don't have access. Download Visual Studio Community to get Team Explorer for free.

Access to third-party tools

With Stakeholder access, you can access third-party tools that are connected to Team Services through APIs or service hooks. You'll only be able to access those tools that support work item tracking.