Configure a hierarchy of teams

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

In Portfolio management we showed how management teams and feature teams can use their backlogs to focus on the work that's most important to them. In this article, we show how to configure teams that best supports the different backlog views of management and feature teams.

Specifically, we'll show you how to configure a team structure like the one shown in the image below.

Each team has its own view of the work

In this article you'll learn how to:

  • Set up a hierarchical set of teams and backlogs
  • Define a single sprint cadence for all teams
  • Review which area paths are assigned to teams
  • Set up a hierarchical set of teams and backlogs
  • Define a single sprint cadence for all teams
  • Review which area paths are assigned to teams

Prerequisites

Add teams

The first step is to add a team for each feature team and management area. You can also rename teams that you've already added. When you finish, you'll have a set of teams similar to the ones shown.

Project settings, Teams

  1. From the web portal, choose Project settings and open Teams.

    Open Code, new nav

  2. Choose New team. Give the team a name, and optionally a description.

    Create a sub-team with its own area path

    Repeat this step for all feature and management teams you want to create.

  1. From the web portal, choose the  gear settings icon to open the Project settings page for the project.

    Open project admin page

  2. Choose New team. Give the team a name, and make sure to select Create an area path with the name of the team. If you do not select this option, you will have to set the default area path for the team once you create it. You can choose an existing area path or create a new one at that time. Team tools aren't available until the team's default area path is set.

    Create a sub-team with its own area path

    Repeat this step for all feature and management teams you want to create.

  1. From the web portal, choose the  gear settings icon to open Project Settings.

    Open project admin page

  2. Create a new team. Give the team a name, and make sure to select Create an area path with the name of the team.

    If you do not select this option, you will have to set the default area path for the team once you create it. You can choose an existing area path or create a new one at that time. Team tools aren't available until the team's default area path is set.

    Create a sub-team with its own area path

    Repeat this step for all feature and management teams you want to create.

Move area paths into a hierarchical structure

In this next step, you want to move the areas paths associated with feature teams from a flat structure to a hierarchical structure.

Flat area structure Hierarchical area structure
Flat area paths Hierarchical area paths
Flat area structure Hierarchical area structure
Flat area structure Hierarchical area structure

You do this by opening each area path associated with a feature team and changing its location to be under the management area path.

  1. Choose (1) Project Settings, expand Work if needed, and choose (2) Project configuration and then (3) Areas.

    Project Settings>Work>Project Configuration

  2. Next, choose the  actions icon for one of the area paths associated with a feature team and select Edit. Then change the Location to move it under it's corresponding management team area path.

    For example, here we move the Customer Profile to under Account Management.

    Edit area path dialog

    Repeat this step for all feature team area paths.

  1. From the web portal for the project, choose the  gear icon.

    Open Admin context, project level

    If you're currently working from a team context, then hover over the gear icon and choose Project settings.

    Open Project Settings, horz nav

  2. Choose Work.

  3. Next, choose the  actions icon for one of the area paths associated with a feature team and select Edit. Then change the Location to move it under it's corresponding management team area path.

    For example, here we move the Customer Profile to under Account Management.

    Edit area path dialog

    Repeat this step for all feature team area paths.

  1. From the web portal, choose the  gear icon to open project administration pages. Then choose Areas.

    Open the project administration page

  2. Next, choose the  context icon for one of the area paths associated with a feature team and select Edit. Then change the Location to move it under it's corresponding management team area path.

    For example, here we move the Customer Profile to under Account Management.

    Team admin context, Open and edit area paths for feature teams

    Repeat this step for all feature team area paths.

Include sub-area paths for management teams

By including sub-area paths for the management teams, you automatically include the backlog items of their feature teams onto the management team's backlog. The default setting for all teams is to exclude sub-area paths.

You define both areas and iterations from Project Settings>Boards>Team configuration. You can quickly navigate to it from Teams.

  1. From Project Settings, choose Teams, and then choose the team whose settings you want to modify.

    Here we open the Account Management team.

    Teams, choose a team

  2. Choose Iterations and areas and then Areas.

    Team Profile, choose Iterations and area

    If you need to switch the team context, use the team selector within the breadcrumbs.

  3. Choose Select area(s), and select the area path for Account Management and check the Include sub areas checkbox.

    Select areas for Account Management team

    Verify that only this area path is selected for the team and is the default area path. Remove any other area paths that may have been previously selected.

    Verify area paths for Account Management team

    Repeat this step for all your management areas. Also, if you want to enable rollup across all feature teams and management areas to the top level area, repeat this step for the default team. In our example, that corresponds to Fabrikam Fiber.

  1. You open team settings from the top navigation bar. Select the team you want and then choose the  gear icon. To learn more about switching your team focus, see Switch project, repository, team

    Open team settings

  2. Choose Work, and then Areas.

  3. Choose Select area(s), and select the area path for Account Management and check the Include sub areas checkbox.

    Select areas for Account Management team

    Verify that only this area path is selected for the team and is the default area path. Remove any other area paths that may have been previously selected.

    Verify area paths for Account Management team

    Repeat this step for all your management areas. Also, if you want to enable rollup across all feature teams and management areas to the top level area, repeat this step for the default team. In our example, that corresponds to Fabrikam Fiber.

From Areas, open the  context menu and select Include sub-areas.

Here we choose to include sub-area paths for the Account Management area.

Team admin context, Open and edit area paths for feature teams

Repeat this step for all your management areas. Also, if you want to enable rollup across all feature teams and management areas to the top level area, repeat this step for the default team. In our example, that corresponds to Fabrikam.

Define a single sprint cadence for all teams

If your feature teams use Scrum or use sprints to assign their work, you'll want to set up a series of sprints that all teams can use. By default, you'll see a set of predefined sprints. Add more sprints and set their sprint dates from Project Settings as described in Add iterations and set iteration dates. You can rename and edit the default sprints as needed.

Note

While maintaining a single sprint cadence simplifies project administration, you can create different cadences as needed. For example, some teams may follow a monthly cadence while others follow a 3-week cadence. Simply define a node under the top project node for each cadence, and then define the sprints under those nodes. For example:

  • Fabrikam Fiber/CY2019
  • Fabrikam Fiber/3Week Sprints

Here we define the start and end dates of the first 6 sprints corresponding to a 3-week cadence.

Iteration path

Sprint schedule selected sprints

Configure additional team settings

For all teams to be well defined, you'll want to add team administrator(s) and have them verify or configure additional team settings. These include:

For additional details, see Manage and configure team tools

Review area paths assigned to teams

From Project Settings>Project configuration>Areas, you can review which Area Paths have been assigned to which teams. To modify the assignments, choose the team and change the team's area path assignments.

Area Paths and Teams

From Project Settings>Work>Areas, you can review which Area Paths have been assigned to which teams. To modify the assignments, choose the team and change the team's area path assignments.

Area Paths and Teams

This feature isn't supported for TFS 2015 and earlier versions.

With the hierarchical set of teams in place, you're well positioned to start planning and using the Agile tools available. To take the next steps in planning your portfolio of projects, see these articles: