Track user stories, tasks, and features

Azure Boards

This article walks you through creating user stories and tasks using a Kanban board for the Agile process.

Important

Select the version that meets your location and process: We are experimenting with a new acquisition model which is currently available for users located in the United States and that sign up through azure.com/boards. This model supports a new Basic process.
For International users and others who sign up through another method, the Agile process is used. Select your version of this article based on your location and process used.

Your first project uses the default Agile process which provides several work item types—for example, user stories, tasks, bugs, features, and epics among others—to plan and track work. We recommend you start by adding user stories. If you need to group them into a hierarchy, you can define features. If you want to track additional details of work, you can add tasks to a user story.

Work item types Backlog hierarchy
Agile 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 User Stories board

The User Stories Kanban board is the best tool for quickly adding user stories and child tasks. To open, choose Boards>Boards.

Open your Kanban board

The Features Kanban board is the best tool for quickly adding features and user stories that are children of those features. To open the Features board from the User Stories board, choose Features from the board selector.

Open the features board

Add user stories

  1. From the User Stories board, choose New item and start adding those stories you want to track.

    Add new item

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

    Added item

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

Add details to a user story

  1. Choose the 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 story to Raisa Pokrovskaya and we add a discussion note, at-mentioning Raisa.

    User Story work item form, add details

    Note

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

  2. Choose Save & Close when done.

Field descriptions

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.

Acceptance Criteria

Provide the criteria to be met before the user story can be closed. Before work begins, describe the customer acceptance criteria as clearly as possible. Conversations between the team and customers to define the acceptance criteria will help ensure that your team understands your customers' expectations. The acceptance criteria can be used as the basis for acceptance tests so that you can more effectively evaluate whether an item has been satisfactorily completed.

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.

Value Area

The area of customer value addressed by the epic, feature, requirement, or backlog item. Values include:

  • Architectural : Technical services to implement business features that deliver solution

  • Business: Services that fulfill customers or stakeholder needs that directly deliver customer value to support the business (Default)

Story Points 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 are used to calculate velocity and forecast sprints.

Update user story status

As work starts, drag the user story card from the Backlog column to the Active column. Once work is ready for review, move to the Resolved column. After it is reviewed and accepted, move to the Closed column.

Update status on Kanban board

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

Add tasks to a user story

Task checklists provide a quick and easy way to track elements of work which are important to support completing a user story. In addition, you can assign individual tasks to different team members.

  1. To start adding tasks, choose the actions icon for the story 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

  1. 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.

    Here we assign the task to Christie Church.

    Task form

  2. Choose Save & Close when done.

Field descriptions

In addition to the fields you can define for a user story, 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

Original Estimate

The amount of estimated work required to complete a task. Typically, this field doesn't change after it is assigned.

You can specify work in hours or in days. There are no inherent time units associated with this field.

Completed Work

The amount of work spent implementing a task.

Remaining Work

The amount of work remaining to complete a task. As work progresses, update this field. It's used to calculate capacity charts, the sprint burndown chart. If you divide a task into subtasks, specify hours for the subtasks only. You can specify work in any unit of measurement your team chooses.

Capture comments in the Discussion section

Use the Discussion section within a form to add and review comments about the work under development.

Discussion section within a work item form

Use the @mention control to notify another team member about the discussion. Simply type @ and their name. Or, bring a group into the discussion by typing @ and the group name, such as a team or security group. To reference another issue, task, or 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.

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

Discussion section, Rich Text Editor toolbar

Use the icons— at-mention,  #-work-item-ID, and  pull-request ID —to facilitate bringing others into the discussion or linking to work items or pull requests. Choose one of these icons and a menu displays with the most recent options that you've previously selected.

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