Get started as a Stakeholder

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Stakeholders are users with free but limited access to Azure DevOps features and functions. With Stakeholder access, you can add and modify work items, manage build and release pipelines, and view dashboards. You can check project status and provide direction, feedback, feature ideas, and business alignment to a team. For a quick overview of the features available to Stakeholders, see the Features and functions available to Stakeholders later in this article.

Note

For public projects, Stakeholder access gives users greater access to features. To learn more, see Default roles and access for public projects. For information about working with pipelines, see these articles: Build your GitHub repository and Build OSS repositories.

Stakeholders are users with free but limited access to Azure DevOps features and functions. With Stakeholder access, you can add and modify work items, view and approve pipelines, and view dashboards. You can check project status and provide direction, feedback, feature ideas, and business alignment to a team.

Stakeholders are users with free but limited access to Azure DevOps features and functions. With Stakeholder access, you can add and modify work items. You can check project status and provide direction, feedback, feature ideas, and business alignment to a team.

Stakeholder access is one of several supported access levels as described in About access levels.

Note

Azure Boards supports several Agile methods such as Kanban and Scrum. Depending on what methods your team uses, you'll want to become familiar with other tools that Azure Boards supports. This article focuses on getting familiar with work items and the Kanban board. For additional information, see Related articles at the end of this article.

Use this tutorial to learn how to do the following tasks:

  • Sign in to a project
  • Understand which work item types are available to your project
  • Open the Kanban board and add a work item
  • Add details, tags, or comments to a work item
  • View the product backlog
  • Find work assigned to you, or query for other work items
  • Understand what features are and aren't available to users with Stakeholder access

Connect to the web portal of a project

You must have been added to the Azure DevOps project and been granted Stakeholder or higher access level.

  1. Choose the link provided in the email invitation you should have received. Or, open a browser window and enter the URL for the web portal.

    http://dev.azure.com/OrganizationName/ProjectName

    http://ServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/ProjectName For example, to connect to the server named FabrikamPrime and project named Contoso, enter http://FabrikamPrime:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/Contoso.

  2. Enter your credentials. If you can't sign in, ask the organization owner or Project Administrator to add you as a member of the project with Stakeholder access.

Understand work items and work item types

Work items support planning and tracking work. Each work item represents an object stored in the work item data store. Each work item is based on a work item type and is assigned an identifier which is unique within an organization or project collection. Different work items are used to track different types of work as described in About work items. The work item types available to you are based on the process used when your project was created—Agile, Basic, Scrum, or CMMI—as illustrated in the following images.

User Stories and Tasks are used to track work, Bugs track code defects, and Epics and Features are used to group work under larger scenarios.

Agile work item types, conceptual image

Open your Kanban board from the web portal

You can start viewing and adding work items once you connect to a project. The easiest way to add work items is through the backlog or Kanban board. Here we show how to add work through a Kanban board.

  1. Check that you selected the right project, and select Boards > Boards. Then select the correct team from the team selector menu.

    Open your Kanban board

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

    Select another team's board

    Tip

    Select the  star icon to make a team board a favorite. Favorite artifacts ( favorite icon) appear at the top of the team selector list.

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

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

  1. Check that you selected the right project, and select Boards > Boards. Then select the correct team from the team selector menu.

    Open your Kanban board

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

    Select another team's board

    Tip

    Select the  star icon to make a team board a favorite. Favorite artifacts ( favorite icon) appear at the top of the team selector list.

  2. Check that you selected Stories for Agile, Issues for Basic, Backlog items for Scrum, or Requirements for CMMI as the backlog level. Here we have selected Backlog Items for the Scrum process.

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

  1. To view your Kanban board, open your project from a web browser. Select Work > Backlogs > Stories, and then select Board.

    Open Portfolio Kanban board, features

    If you don't see Work, your screen size might be reduced. Select the three dots ( ) icon. Then select Work > Backlogs > Board.

    Open Work when screen size is reduced

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

    Select another team

    Your Kanban board appears.

    Kanban board, Agile template

  1. To view your Kanban board, open your project from a web browser. Select Work > Backlogs > Stories, and then select Board.

    Open Portfolio Kanban board, features

    If you don't see Work, your screen size might be reduced. Select the three dots ( ) icon. Then select Work > Backlogs > Board.

    Open Work when screen size is reduced

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

    Select another team from the project menu

    Your Kanban board appears.

    TFS 2015, Kanban board, Agile template

Add work items to a product backlog

From the Kanban board, you can add work items. However, with Stakeholder access, you can't update the status of a work item by drag and drop to a different column.

  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. Add as many user stories that you want to track.

Add details to a work item

To add information to a work item, open it by double-clicking the title or by selecting it and then typing Enter. Change one or more field values, add a description, add a tag, or add a comment in the Discussion section. You can also choose the attachments icon Attachments tab and drag-and-drop or upload a file to share with others.

To add information to a work item, open it by double-clicking the title or by selecting it and then typing Enter. Add a description, change one or more field values, or add a tag. You can also choose the attachments icon Attachments tab and upload a file to the work item to share with others.

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

Note

The work item form you see may differ from those shown in the following images. The basic functionality is the same, however, changes have been made with different versions of Azure DevOps.

For example, here we assign the story to Raisa Pokrovskaya and we add a discussion note, at-mentioning Raisa. Choose Save & Close when done.

User Story work item form, add details

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)

Effort
Story Points
Size
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.

Add tags to a work item

Tags are useful for filtering backlogs, boards, and queries. As a Stakeholder, you can add existing tags to a work item, however, you can't add new tags.

From the web portal, open a work item and choose Add tag and type a keyword of an existing tag. Or, select from the list of previously assigned tags.

Add one or more tags to a work item

Add one or more tags to a work item

Tags that appear in the tag bar are already assigned to the work item. To unassign a tag, simply choose the x on the tag,Delete a tag assigned to a work item.

Note

By default, all Contributors and Stakeholders of public projects are granted permissions to add new and existing tags. Stakeholders in private projects can add tags that are already defined, but not add new tags. To grant or restrict permissions to create new tags, you set the permission Create tag definition at the project-level. To learn more, see Add administrators, set permissions at the project-level or project collection-level.

Capture comments in the Discussion section

Use the Discussion section to add and review comments made about the work being performed.

Discussion section within a work item form

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

Discussion section, New Rich Text Editor toolbar

Mention someone, a group, work item, or pull request ( ,  , or pull-request id icon)

Choose one of these icons — ,  , or pull-request id icon— to open a menu of recent entries you've made to mention someone, link to a work item, or link to a pull request. Or, you can simply type @, #, or ! to open the same menu.

Discussion section, @mention drop-down menu

Note

This latest version of the rich text editor requires Azure DevOps Server 2019 Update 1 or later version.

Type a name, or enter a number and the menu list will filter to match your entry. Choose the entry you want to add. You can bring a group into the discussion by typing @ and the group name, such as a team or security group.

Edit or delete a comment

If you need to edit or delete any of your discussion comments, choose  Edit or choose the  actions icon and then choose Delete.

Discussion section, Edit, Delete actions

Note

The edit/delete feature requires Azure DevOps Server 2019 Update 1 or later version.

After updating the comment, choose Update. To delete the comment, you'll need to confirm that you want to delete it.

A full audit trail of all edited and deleted comments is maintained in the History tab on the work item form.

Use the @mention control to notify another team member about the discussion. Simply type @ and their name. To reference a 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.

To reference a 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.

Important

For on-premises Azure DevOps Server or TFS, you must configure an SMTP server in order for team members to receive notifications.

Note that you can't edit or delete comments once they've been entered.

Add a reaction to a comment

You can add one or more reactions to any comment. Choose a smiley icon at the upper-right corner of any comment or choose from the icons at the bottom of a comment next to any existing reactions. To remove your reaction, click the reaction on the bottom of your comment. The following shows an example of the experience of adding a reaction, as well as the display of reactions on a comment.

Add reactions to a comment

Check the backlog and prioritized work

You can check the product backlog to see how the team has prioritized work. Backlog items appear in priority order. Work item types may include bugs depending on the settings made for the team.

From the Kanban board, choose View as backlog.

Choose Backlog

From the Kanban board, choose View as backlog.

Choose Backlog

From the Kanban board, choose Backlog.

Choose Backlog

You should see the list of backlog items listed in priority order. You can add a backlog item which will be placed at the bottom of the list. With Stakeholder access, you can't re-prioritize work.

To view or edit a work item, select it and choose Enter.

Find work assigned to you, or query for other work items

  1. Choose Boards>Work Items, and then select Assigned to me.

    Work, Work Items page, Choose Assigned to Me

    You can focus on relevant items inside a project using one of the seven pivots as described next. Additionally, you can filter and sort each pivot view. For details, see View and add work items using the Work Items page.

  2. To query for work items, see View, run, or email a work item query.

  1. Open Work>Queries and select Assigned to me to see the list of work items assigned to you.

    Queries page, items assigned to you

  2. Or, open any of the queries defined in the Shared Queries folder.

    Run a shared query

  3. And, you can create new queries or edit existing queries and save them under My Queries folder.

    Query Editor

Features and functions available to Stakeholders

With Stakeholder access, users can create and modify work items and create and save queries. They have limited access to many of the Azure Boards features. They also can view and approve release pipelines and perform administrative tasks when granted administrative permissions or added to an administrative group.

Note

Stakeholders that choose a feature that's not available to them receive an error message indicating that they don't have permissions to complete a task.

Public versus private feature access

Stakeholder access grants access to features differently depending on whether you're working from a private or a public project. To learn more about public projects, see What is a public project?.

Service, application, or setting Private project Public project
Dashboards Partial access Full access
Wiki Partial access Full access
Boards Partial access Full access
Repos No access Full access
Pipelines Full access Full access
Test Plans No access No access
Notifications Full access Full access
Semantic search Full access Full access
Project settings Partial access Partial access
Organization settings Partial access Partial access

Features not available to users with Stakeholder access

If a Stakeholder needs access to one or more of the following features—which support the daily work of product owners, team leads, developers, testers, and project administrators—you need to have Basic access.

For Private projects:

  • Change the priority of an item within a backlog
  • Delete work items or move work items to another project
  • Create shared queries, view charts, and modify the home page
  • View Delivery Plans (a Marketplace extension)
  • Access the full set of features under Pipelines, Repos or Test Plans.

For Public projects:

  • View Delivery Plans (a Marketplace extension)
  • Access the full set of features under Repos or Test Plans.
  • Change the priority of an item within a backlog
  • Delete work items or move work items to another project
  • Create shared queries, view charts, and modify dashboards
  • View Delivery Plans (a Marketplace extension)
  • Access the full set of features under Pipelines, Repos or Test Plans.
  • Change the priority of an item within a backlog
  • Delete work items
  • Create shared queries, view charts, and modify dashboards
  • View Delivery Plans (a Marketplace extension)
  • Access the full set of features under Code, Build and Release or Test.
  • Change the priority of an item within a backlog
  • Delete work items
  • Create shared queries, view charts, and modify dashboards
  • View Delivery Plans (a Marketplace extension)
  • Access the full set of features provided under Code, Build and Release or Test
  • Participate in team rooms, which capture interactive, detailed conversations about the project.
  • Change the priority of an item within a backlog
  • Delete work items
  • Create shared queries, view charts, and modify the home page
  • Access the full set of features provided under Code, Build and Release or Test
  • Participate in team rooms, which capture interactive, detailed conversations about the project.

For a comparison chart of Stakeholder vs Basic access, see this feature matrix. See also these quickstart guides: