What is Azure Boards?

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With the Azure Boards web service, teams can manage their software projects. It provides a rich set of capabilities including native support for Scrum and Kanban, customizable dashboards, and integrated reporting. These tools can scale as your business grows.

You can quickly and easily start tracking user stories, backlog items, task, features, and bugs associated with your project. You do this by adding work items based on the process and work item types available to your project.

Video: Plan your work with Azure Boards

Work item types

Two of the most popular processes used are Basic and Agile. A process determines the work item types and workflow available in Azure Boards.

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.

Basic provides three work item types—epics, issues, and tasks—and a very simple workflow. As works progresses from not started to completed, you update the State workflow field from To Do, Doing, and Done.

Work item types Workflow
Basic process work item types, conceptual image Basic process workflow, conceptual image

When you add an issue, task, or epic, you create a work item. Each work item represents an object stored in the work item data store. Each work item is assigned an identifier. The IDs are unique within your projects.

Add epics to track significant features or requirements. Use issues to track user stories, bugs, or other smaller items of work. And, use tasks to track even smaller amounts of work for which you want to track time either in hours or days.

If you want a project that uses the Scrum or CMMI process, then you can add another project and specify the process through advanced setting options. See Choose a process for a comparison of processes.

Track work on interactive backlogs and boards

Quickly add and update the status of work using the Kanban board. You can also assign work to team members and tag with labels to support queries and filtering. Share information through descriptions, attachments, or links to network shared content. Prioritize work through drag-and-drop.

Update the status of issues

Add and update the status from To Do, Doing, and Done. Add tasks as child items to issues. To learn more, see Track issues and tasks.

Update status on Kanban board

Prioritize your backlog of issues

Prioritize work through drag-and-drop on your team backlog. To learn more, see Create your backlog.

Reorder work items

Collaborate

Collaborate with others through the Discussion section of the work item form. Use @mentions and #ID controls to quickly include others in the conversation or link to other work items. Choose to follow specific issues to get alerted when they are updated.

Create dashboards that track status and trends of work being accomplished. Set notifications to get alerted when an issue is created or changed.

Get updated when a work item is updated

Work item form, Follow icon control

To learn more, see:

Work in sprints, implement Scrum

Plan sprints by assigning work to current or future sprints. Forecast work that can get completed based on effort estimates. Determine how much work can be done within a sprint. Bulk assign issues and tasks to team members and sprints.

Assign backlog items to a sprint

Boards>Backlogs>Drag-drop items onto sprint

Boards>Backlogs>Drag-drop items onto sprint

To learn more, see:

Work effectively

You'll find you can work more effectively through these actions:

  • Organize work into a hierarchy by grouping issues under epics, and tasks under issues.
  • Create queries and quickly triage issues and tasks.
  • Create work item templates to help contributors quickly add and define open meaningful issues and tasks.
  • Quickly find work items that are assigned to you. Pivot or filter your work items based on other criteria, such as work items that you follow, that you're mentioned in, or that you viewed or updated.

Group items to create a hierarchy

Backlogs, show parents

To learn more, see:

Connect with GitHub

If you use Azure Boards connected with GitHub, you can also do the following tasks:

  • From GitHub, use #AB to link GitHub commits and pull requests to your issues and tasks.
  • From Azure Boards issues and tasks, link to GitHub commits and pull requests.

To learn more, see GitHub & Azure Boards.

Best tool for the job

Azure Boards provides the following interactive lists and signboards. Each tool provides a filtered set of work items. All tools support viewing and defining work items. To learn more about effective use of these tools, see Best tool to add, update, and link work items.

  • Work items: Use to quickly find work items that are assigned to you. Pivot or filter work items based on other criteria, such as work items that you follow, that you're mentioned in, or that you viewed or updated.
  • Boards: Boards present work items as cards and support quick status updates through drag-and-drop. The feature is similar to sticky notes on a physical whiteboard. Use to implement Kanban practices and visualize the flow of work for a team.
  • Backlogs: Backlogs present work items as lists. A product backlog represents your project plan and a repository of all the information you need to track and share with your team. Portfolio backlogs allow you to group and organize your backlog into a hierarchy. Use to plan, prioritize, and organize work.
  • Sprints: Sprint backlogs and taskboards provide a filtered view of work items a team assigned to a specific iteration path, or sprint. From your backlog, you can assign work to an iteration path by using drag-and-drop. You can then view that work in a separate sprint backlog. Use to implement Scrum practices.
  • Queries: Queries are filtered lists of work items based on criteria that you define by using a query editor. You use queries to support the following tasks:
    • Find groups of work items with something in common.
    • List work items for the purposes of sharing with others or doing bulk updates. Triage a set of items to prioritize or assign.
    • Create status and trend charts that you then can add to dashboards.
  • Boards: Boards present work items as cards and support quick status updates through drag-and-drop. The feature is similar to sticky notes on a physical whiteboard. Use to implement Kanban practices and visualize the flow of work for a team.
  • Backlogs: Backlogs present work items as lists. A product backlog represents your project plan and a repository of all the information you need to track and share with your team. Portfolio backlogs allow you to group and organize your backlog into a hierarchy. Use to plan, prioritize, and organize work.
  • Sprints: Sprint backlogs and taskboards provide a filtered view of work items a team assigned to a specific iteration path, or sprint. From your backlog, you can assign work to an iteration path by using drag-and-drop. You can then view that work in a separate sprint backlog. Use to implement Scrum practices.
  • Queries: Queries are filtered lists of work items based on criteria that you define by using a query editor. You use queries to support the following tasks:
    • Find groups of work items with something in common.
    • List work items for the purposes of sharing with others or doing bulk updates. Triage a set of items to prioritize or assign.
    • Create status and trend charts that you then can add to dashboards.

Support independent, autonomous teams

A team refers to a group of project members who work in a particular product area. Those areas are represented as area paths. Area paths are hierarchical paths that denote the possible areas of ownership in an organization. A team is defined by a name, its members, and its area paths.

Boards, Backlogs, Sprints rely on team configurations. For example, if you want to add a Kanban board or product backlog, you define a team. For more information on teams, see About teams and Agile tools.

Manage work across projects

Most work is tracked within a project. However, many enterprises create several projects to support their business needs as described in Plan your organizational structure.

To track work across several projects, you can:

Get access to more tools

Extensions provide support for additional tools. An extension is an installable software unit that adds new capabilities to your projects. Find extensions in the Azure DevOps Marketplace. Extensions can support planning and tracking of work items, sprints, scrums, and more and collaboration among team members.