Plan and track work

Azure Boards | Azure DevOps Server 2019 | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

You track your work by creating work items. This article walks you through creating issues and tasks using a Kanban board for the Basic process, or creating user stories and tasks using for the Agile process.

Choose either the Basic process or Agile process for guidance depending on what process was selected for your project.

Note

The Basic process is available when you add a project to Azure DevOps Services or Azure DevOps Server 2019 Update 1. For earlier on-premises deployments, choose Agile, Scrum, or CMMI process.

The Basic process provides three work item types—epics, issues, and tasks—to plan and track work. We recommend you start by adding issues to track your user stories, bugs, or feature items. If you need to group them into a hierarchy, you can define epics. If you want to track additional details of work, you can add tasks to an issue.

Work item types Backlog hierarchy
Basic process work item types, conceptual image Hierarchical backlog

Within each work item form, you can describe the work to be done, assign work to project contributors, track status, and collaborate with others through the Discussion section.

Here we show how to add issues and child tasks from the web portal and add details to those work items .

Open the Kanban board

A Kanban board is provisioned with the addition of each project and each team. You can only create or add Kanban boards to a project by adding another team. To learn more, see About teams and Agile tools.

The Issues Kanban board is the best tool for quickly adding issues and child tasks. To open, choose Boards>Boards.
Open your Kanban board

The Epics Kanban board is the best tool for quickly adding epics and issues that are children of those epics. To open the Epics board from the Issues board, choose Epics from the board selector.

Open the epics board

Add issues or user stories

  1. From the Issues board, choose New item and start adding those issues you want to track.

    Add new item

  2. Enter return and the system assigns a work item ID to the issue.

    Added item

  3. To track the work you want to manage, add as many issues that you need.

Add details to an issue or user story

Choose the issue or user story title to open it. Change one or more field values, add a description, or make a note in the Discussion section. You can also choose the attachments icon Attachments tab and drag-and-drop a file to share the file with others.

For example, here we assign the issue to Raisa Pokrovskaya and we add a discussion note, at-mentioning Raisa.

Issues work item form, add details

Note

You can only assign work to a user who has been added to the project.

Choose Save & Close when done.

Field description

Field Definition

Title

Enter a description of 255 characters or less. You can always modify the title later.

Assigned To

Assign the work item to the team member responsible for performing the work. Depending on the context you are working in, the drop-down menu will list only team members or contributors to the project.

State

When the work item is created, the State defaults to the first state in the workflow. As work progresses, update it to reflect the current state.

Reason

Use the default first. Update it when you change state as need. Each State is associated with a default reason.

Area Choose the area path associated with the product or team, or leave blank until assigned during a planning meeting. To change the dropdown list of areas, see Define area paths and assign to a team.
Iteration Choose the sprint or iteration in which the work is to be completed, or leave it blank and assign it later during a planning meeting. To change the drop-down list of iterations, see Define iteration paths (aka sprints) and configure team iterations.
Description Provide enough detail to create shared understanding of scope and support estimation efforts. Focus on the user, what they want to accomplish, and why. Don't describe how to develop the product. Do provide sufficient details so that your team can write tasks and test cases to implement the item.

Priority

A subjective rating of the issue or task it relates to the business. You can specify the following values:

1: Product cannot ship without the successful resolution of the work item, and it should be addressed as soon as possible.

2: Product cannot ship without the successful resolution of the work item, but it does not need to be addressed immediately.

3: Resolution of the work item is optional based on resources, time, and risk.

4: Resolution of the work item is not required.

Effort
Provide a relative estimate of the amount of work required to complete an issue.

Most Agile methods recommend that you set estimates for backlog items based on relative size of work. Such methods include powers of 2 (1, 2, 4, 8) and the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.). Use any numeric unit of measurement your team prefers.

The estimates you set for Effort are used to calculate velocity and to forecast sprints.

Update status

As work starts, drag the issue from the To Do column to the Doing column. Once completed, move to the Done column.

Update status on Kanban board

You can add or rename columns as needed, see Customize your board.

Add tasks

Task checklists provide a quick and easy way to track elements of work which are important to support completing an issue.

  1. To start adding tasks, choose the actions icon for the issue and select the plus icon Add Task option.

    Choose Add Task from Issues menu

    Enter a title for the task and type Enter when done.

    Add first task

  2. If you have a number of tasks to add, simply keep typing your task titles and type Enter.

    Several tasks added

  3. You can mark a task as done, expand or collapse the task checklist, or reorder and reparent tasks.

    Mark a task as done Reorder and reparent tasks Expand or collapse the checklist
    To mark a task as complete, check the task checkbox. The task State changes to Done.
    Mark task as done
    To reorder a task, drag it within the checklist. To reparent a the task, drag it to another issue on the board.
    Drag tasks to reorder them within the list
    To expand or collapse a task checklist, simply choose the task annotation.
    Collapse task checklist

Add details to a task

If you have details you want to add about a task, choose the title, to open it. Change one or more field values, add a description, or make a note in the Discussion section. Choose Save & Close when done.

Here we assign the task to Jamal.

Task form

Field descriptions

In addition to the fields you can define for an issue, you can specify the following fields for a task to support capacity and time tracking.

Field Definition
Activity

The type of activity that is required to perform a task.To learn more about how this field is used, see Capacity planning. Allowed values are:

  • Deployment

  • Design

  • Development

  • Documentation

  • Requirements

  • Testing

Remaining Work

The amount of work that remains to finish a task. You can specify work in hours or in days. There are no inherent time units associated with this field even though the taskboard always shows "h" for hours in relationship to Remaining Work.

Remaining Work is often used to calculate burn down for a sprint.

Capture comments in the Discussion section

Use the Discussion section to add and review comments made about the work being performed.

Discussion section within a work item form

The rich text editor tool bar displays below the text entry area when you click your cursor within each text box that can be formatted.

Discussion section, New Rich Text Editor toolbar

Mention someone, a group, work item, or pull request ( ,  , or pull-request id icon)

Choose one of these icons — ,  , or pull-request id icon— to open a menu of recent entries you've made to mention someone, link to a work item, or link to a pull request. Or, you can simply type @, #, or ! to open the same menu.

Discussion section, @mention drop-down menu

Note

This latest version of the rich text editor requires Azure DevOps Server 2019 Update 1 or later version.

Type a name, or enter a number and the menu list will filter to match your entry. Choose the entry you want to add. You can bring a group into the discussion by typing @ and the group name, such as a team or security group.

Edit or delete a comment

If you need to edit or delete any of your discussion comments, choose  Edit or choose the  actions icon and then choose Delete.

Discussion section, Edit, Delete actions

Note

The edit/delete feature requires Azure DevOps Server 2019 Update 1 or later version.

After updating the comment, choose Update. To delete the comment, you'll need to confirm that you want to delete it.

A full audit trail of all edited and deleted comments is maintained in the History tab on the work item form.

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.

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.

Important

For on-premises Azure DevOps Server or TFS, you must configure an SMTP server in order for team members to receive notifications.

Note that you can't edit or delete comments once they've been entered.

Add a reaction to a comment

You can add one or more reactions to any comment. Choose a smiley icon at the upper-right corner of any comment or choose from the icons at the bottom of a comment next to any existing reactions. To remove your reaction, click the reaction on the bottom of your comment. The following shows an example of the experience of adding a reaction, as well as the display of reactions on a comment.

Add reactions to a comment

Try this next