Organize your backlog, map child work items to parents

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

After you've added features or epics to your portfolio backlog, you can quickly organize your backlog by mapping backlog items to them. With features and epics, you can quickly add and group items into a hierarchy, drill up or down within the hierarchy, reorder and reparent items, and filter hierarchical views.

In this article you'll learn how to:

  • Open your product backlog or portfolio backlog
  • View the tree hierarchy
  • Group backlog items using the Mapping pane
  • Reparent items using drag-and-drop or the Change parent option

[!div class="checklist"]

  • Open your product backlog or portfolio backlog
  • View the tree hierarchy
  • Group backlog items using the Mapping pane
  • Reparent items using drag-and-drop

Note

The Epic portfolio backlog is supported in TFS 2015 and later versions.

Note

To understand the differences between backlogs, boards, taskboards, and Delivery plans, see Backlogs, boards, and plans. If your backlog or board doesn't show the work items that you expect or want, see Set up your backlogs and boards.

Note

To understand the differences between backlogs, boards, and taskboards, see Backlogs, and boards. If your backlog or board doesn't show the work items that you expect or want, see Set up your backlogs and boards.

Prerequisites

  • You must connect to a project. If you don't have a project yet, create one.
  • You must be added to a project as a member of the Contributors or Project Administrators security group. To get added, Add users to a project or team.
  • To add or modify work items, you must be granted Stakeholder access or higher. For details, see About access levels.
  • To view or modify work items, you must have your View work items in this node and Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. To learn more, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.

Note

Users with Stakeholder access for a public project have full access to backlog and board features just like users with Basic access. For details, see About access levels.

  • You must connect to a project. If you don't have a project yet, create one.
  • You must be added to a project as a member of the Contributors or Project Administrators security group. To get added, Add users to a project or team.
  • To add or modify work items, you must be granted Stakeholder access or higher. For details, see About access levels.
  • To view or modify work items, you must have your View work items in this node and Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. To learn more, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.

Users with Stakeholder access for a private project can't use drag and drop to map or reparent work items or change their sprint.

Users with Stakeholder access can't use drag and drop to map or reparent work items or change their sprint.

Open your backlog from the web portal

From your web browser, open your product backlog.

  1. (1) Check that you have selected the right project, (2) choose Boards>Backlogs, and then (3) select the correct team from the team selector menu.

    Open Work, Backlogs, for a team

    To select another backlog, open the selector and then choose a different team or select the View Backlog directory option. Or, enter a keyword in the search box to filter the list of team backlogs for the project.

    Choose another team

    Tip

    Choose the  star icon to favorite a team backlog. Favorited artifacts ( favorited icon) appear at the top of the team selector list.

  2. Check that you have selected Stories (for Agile), Issues (for Basic), Backlog items (for Scrum), or Requirements (for CMMI) as the backlog level.

    Choose product backlog level, Backlog items, Stories, or Requirements

  3. (Optional) To choose which columns should display and in what order, choose the  actions icon and select Column options. To learn more, see Change column options.

    Open Column Options

  1. (1) Check that you have selected the right project, (2) choose Boards>Backlogs, and then (3) select the correct team from the team selector menu.

    Open Work, Backlogs, for a team

    To choose another team, open the selector and select a different team or choose the home-icon Browse all backlogs option. Or, you can enter a keyword in the search box to filter the list of team backlogs for the project.

    Choose another team

    Tip

    Choose the  star icon to favorite a team backlog. Favorited artifacts ( favorited icon) appear at the top of the team selector list.

  2. Check that you have selected Backlog items (for Scrum), Stories (for Agile), or Requirements (for CMMI) as the backlog level.

    Choose product backlog level, Backlog items, Stories, or Requirements

  3. (Optional) To choose which columns should display and in what order, choose the  actions icon and select Column options. To learn more, see Change column options.

    Open Column Options

From your web browser, open your team's product backlog. (1) Select the team from the project/team selector, choose (2) Work, (3) Backlogs, and then (4) the product backlog, which is Backlog items (for Scrum), Stories (for Agile), or Requirements (for CMMI).

Open the Boards>Backlogs page

To choose another team, open the project/team selector and select a different team or choose the Browse option.

Choose another team

From your web browser, open your team's product backlog. Select Boards>Backlogs.

Boards>backlogs, TFS 2015, 2013 web portal

Note

The images you see from your web portal may differ from the images you see in this article. These differences result from updates made to your web app, options that you or your admin have enabled, and which process was chosen when creating your project—Agile, Basic, Scrum, or CMMI.

Show parents and expand the tree hierarchy

  1. To view Parents or a tree hierarchy, choose the  view options icon and slide Parents to On.

    Boards>Backlogs>Open view options and choose Parents ON

    The hierarchical view displays. From this view, you can reparent items by drag and drop, moving a child item to a new parent.

    Hierarchical view

  2. Use the expand expand icon and collapse collapse icon icons to expand or collapse one level of the hierarchy.

    Hierarchical view, expand and collapse icons

From the product backlog page, set Parents to Show when you want to drill up or down within the hierarchy. You can also drag and drop items to reparent items from this view.

Hierarchical view of backlogs

Use the expand expand icon and collapse collapse icon icons to expand or collapse one level of the hierarchy.

Collapsed hierarchical view

Map items to group them under a feature or epic

If you've already created your backlog, and now you want to organize it, you can do that most easily by mapping child items to parents.

  1. Choose the  view options icon and select Mapping.

    Boards>Backlogs>Open view options and choose Parents ON

    The Mapping pane displays immediately.

  2. Find Unparented backlog items which will appear at the end of the parented set of backlog items. Parents must be turned on in view options.

    Map unparented items to a feature

  3. To map features to epics, select the Features backlog from the backlog selector. The Epics Mapping pane will automatically display.

To map a backlog item under a feature, you first turn mapping on from your backlog (Backlog items, Stories, or Requirements). Next, find the Unparented backlog items group by turning the Parents control to Show. Unparented backlog items will appear at the end of the parented set of backlog items.

Drag items that are currently unparented to the feature under which they belong. Also, you can drag a backlog item to a different feature to change its parent. This mapping creates parent-child links from feature to user stories, which is captured in the Links tab icon (links) tab.

Map a backlog item to a portfolio backlog work item

You can multi-select work items on the backlog and sprint backlogs in the same way as multi-select works within query results.

Multi-select of work items on the backlog and sprint backlogs requires TFS 2015.1 or later versions. This feature works in the same way as multi-select works within query results.

It's the same process to map features to epics. From the Features backlog, drag features to an epic listed under the mapping pane.

Change parent (re-parent) and reorder items

When you need to change the order or grouping, simply drag the item to its new location.

You can re-parent an item using the mapping pane, or simply drag it within the hierarchy to change its parent.

Reparent or reorder work items on a backlog

You can only re-parent backlog items under other features, and features under other epics.

Also, to change an item's priority within a group, you can drag the item up or down within its hierarchical group. This works the same as when you moved items into priority order on your product backlog.

Change parent of multiple backlog items

From the product backlog you can multi-select several work items and choose Change parent… to link the items to a parent work item item.

Change parent of several backlog items

Add portfolio backlog levels and boards

If you need more than two portfolio backlogs, you can add up to two more for a total of five backlog levels.

You can add them by customizing your process, adding new work item types, and then configuring your backlogs and boards. You can also add or modify the fields defined for a work item type (WIT) or add a custom WIT. For details, see Customize an inheritance process and Customize your backlogs or boards (Inheritance process).

You can add them by either customizing your inherited process or modifying your XML definition files. You can also add or modify the fields defined for a work item type (WIT) or add a custom WIT. To learn how, see the following articles based on the process model used to update your project:

Inheritance process model:

On-premises XML process model:

You can add them by defining additional work item types and then customizing your process configuration. You can also add or modify the fields defined for a work item type (WIT) or add a custom WIT. To learn more, see Customize the On-premises XML process model and Add a portfolio backlog level.

Display rollup progress, counts, or totals

Product and portfolio backlogs support the display of rollup columns. You can add one or more rollup columns to display progress bars, counts of descendant work items, or totals of select numeric fields. Your settings persist for each page you customize and are only valid for your views.

Progress bars indicate the percentage of descendant items within a hierarchy that are closed or completed. Counts display the total number of descendant items. And, Totals provide a sum of numeric fields, such as Effort, Story Points, Completed Work, or Remaining Work of descendant items.
For example, progress bars are shown here for a portfolio backlog.

Example portfolio backlog with progress bars