Work in Excel or Project

Last Update: 4/1/2017

Team Services | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

You can communicate with Team Foundation Server by using Office Excel and Office Project. You can decide to either work in an online mode where you are connected to the server that hosts the team project that you have accessed, or in an offline mode where you are accessing the local computer and document.


You may receive the following error if you install Office 2010 on the same computer as a previous version of Office.

Team Foundation Error

Interface not registered (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80040155)

You may be able to resolve this error by repairing Office. You can access the Repair option by opening the Control Panel, choose Uninstall or change a program, open the context menu for Office 2010, and then choose Change. See also, TFS-Office integration issues.

You can start work from Excel, Project, or Team Explorer. Your worksheet or project plan can be tied to a list of work items or a work item query.

To work in Excel, see Bulk add work items with Excel.

Open Query Results in Office Excel

To work in Project, see Create your backlog and tasks using Project.

Exporting Work Items to Office Project

When you import work items into Excel or Project, local copies of your work items are created. The data in the local document at first matches the data in the database, but you or other team members can change the data about work items and cause the two to differ. To view the most recent changes from the database, refresh the document. This downloads the latest values in the data store to your local document. To write changes from the document to the database, publish the changes. Publishing uploads the changes you made to the work item tracking data store.

Work offline and reconnect to Team Services or TFS

One advantage of working in Excel or Project is that you can work offline and add or modify work items. The following procedures show you how to disconnect an Excel work item list or a Project plan from Team Services or TFS and later reconnect to synchronize the document with the work item database.


If the team project that contains work items for your Excel or Project document is moved to a different account, project collection or TFS instance, you must reconfigure the server to which the document connects. For more information, see Connect to team projects, Connect to Excel or Project.

Disconnect a document file from the network

To disconnect a an Excel or Project document file from the network:

  1. Open the document that you want to change while you are offline.

  2. Refresh the work item list to retrieve the latest information from the work item database.

    • If you are using Excel, on the Team ribbon, in the Work Items group, choose Refresh.
    • If you are using Project, on the Team menu, choose Refresh.
  3. If you are using Excel, add to the work item list the columns for all fields that you want to modify.

    You can't add columns when the work item list is disconnected from the server.

  4. Disconnect your computer from the network, or save the work item list file and copy it to another computer.

    An error message might appear that tells you that the Office program could not establish a connection with Team Foundation Server.

  5. Modify or update the work item list as needed.


    You can't create most types of links between work items when the work item document is disconnected from the system. The exceptions are parent-child links in an Excel tree list, and both parent-child and predecessor-successor links in a Project plan.

Reconnect a file to Team Services or TFS

To reconnect an Excel or Project document file:

  1. Reconnect your computer to the network, or copy the file to a computer that is connected to Team Services or TFS.

  2. If you changed the document while you were offline, follow one of these steps:

    • If you are using Excel, on the Team ribbon, in the Work Items group, choose Publish.
    • If you are using Project, on the Team menu, choose Publish Changes.
  3. If you didn't change the document while you were offline, follow one of these steps:

    • If you are using Excel, on the Team ribbon, in the Work Items group, choose Refresh.
    • If you are using Project, on the Team menu, choose Refresh.
  4. Resolve any data validation errors or conflicts that occur.

Can I open a query in Excel or Project from the web portal?

To open Excel from the web portal, install the VSTS Open in Excel Marketplace extension. Otherwise, you can open Excel or Project and then open a query that you've created in the web portal.

Resolve publishing errors

To resolve publishing errors that arise when working in Excel or Project, see the following topics:

  • Resolve data conflicts: A data conflict occurs when one team member changes a field value in either Microsoft Project or Microsoft Excel at the same time another team member changes the same field in Team Foundation Server.

  • Resolve data validation errors: A data validation error occurs if a team member changes a work item in a way that violates the rules for that type of work item.

  • Resolve invalid links in a tree hierarchy: An invalid link occurs if a team member views work items in Excel as a hierarchy or tree list, and moves a work item or sorts the list so that it breaks the dependencies between work items. You can resolve this error by reviewing the error message and repositioning work items to reflect the work item structure.

  • Address inaccuracies published for summary values: If you determine that hours are counted twice in reports that contain task hours, you can correct the problem by using the Work Items With Summary Values team query.