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 topic 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

Note

Your web portal uses either the New navigation or Previous navigation user interface. Choose the New navigation tab if the New Navigation feature is enabled. You'll see a vertical sidebar along with other navigational features when New Navigation has been enabled for the signed-in user or the organization. Choose Previous navigation when you see a top-level, blue-bar—indicating that New navigation isn't enabled. For more information, see Web portal navigation.

Note

Choose the New navigation tab for guidance. Azure DevOps Server 2019 supports the New Navigation user interface. For more information, see Web portal navigation.

Note

Choose the Previous navigation tab for guidance. TFS 2018 and earlier versions only support the previous navigation user interface. For more information, see Web portal navigation.

  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.

Choose the Previous navigation tab for guidance. New navigation isn't supported for TFS 2018 and earlier versions.

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.

Choose the Previous navigation tab for guidance. New navigation isn't supported for TFS 2018 and earlier versions.

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.

Choose the Previous navigation tab for guidance. New navigation isn't supported for TFS 2018 and earlier versions.

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.

Here we've defined 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

Choose the Previous navigation tab for guidance. New navigation isn't supported for TFS 2018 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: