Schedule sprints

Go here to open the Visual Studio 2015 version of this topic.

Sprints are useful for scheduling work and providing focus for your team. Teams that employ agile or scrum practices can assign backlog items or user stories to sprints and use the task board to monitor progress.

For each sprint you define for your team, a corresponding sprint backlog page becomes available.

  1. If you're not a team administrator, get added as one. Or have someone provide you with explicit permissions to Edit this node or Create child nodes under an iteration path.

  2. Configure iterations from your team project’s home page.

    Configure sprints and schedules

    From Visual Studio Online, the link is located under Other links.

    Configure schedule and iterations link, home page

    Most team projects are created with a set of predefined iterations. For example, scrum projects are configured with four releases and six sprints for Release 1.

    Scrum pre-defined iterations/sprints

    But what if you want more sprints, or different names, or even want to move the sprint?

  3. To add another sprint, select New child. Name it what you want. Here, we call it Sprint 7.

    Add a sprint


    To change the name or to relocate to another parent node, open the iteration and modify its properties.

    For information about naming restrictions, path length, managing security, and other guidance, see Add and modify area and iteration paths.

  4. Select the sprints your team will use. These sprints will show up on your Backlog page.

    Select team sprints

  5. Open a sprint or an iteration, and set the start and end dates.

    Define start and end dates for a sprint


    After you set the start and end dates for one iteration, the calendar tool automatically attempts to set the next set of dates, based on the same iteration length you specified for the first. For example, if you set a 3 week sprint for Sprint 1, then when you select the start date for Sprint 2, the calendar tool automatically determines the start and end dates based on the next three weeks. You can accept or change these dates.

    Close the Iterations dialog box when you're finished.

  6. Refresh your Home page to see updated charts.

With sprints defined, team members can assign work items to current or future iterations. They can work in sprints.

Q & A

Q: Is there any additional guidance for planning sprints?

A: Sprint Planning by Mitch Lacey provides examples and strategies for keeping sprint planning focused and effective.

Q: What features are associated with a sprint or an iteration?

A: With each iteration that you schedule, your team gains access to the following elements:

  • Sprint backlog page for planning the sprint.

  • Task board page for tracking the status of tasks during the sprint.

  • Capacity page for setting the availability of team members during the sprint.

  • Burndown chart for visualizing progress during the sprint.

After the sprint is complete, you can continue to access these elements from the Past folder.

Persistent task board and burndown chart

Q: What features can I customize for a sprint backlog page?

A: For Visual Studio Online, you can specify the team’s working days. Open Settings from the team’s administration page.

Team settings page for default working days

For on-premises deployments, you can customize the following features for the sprint backlog pages. Customizations apply to all teams working within the team project:

  • The types of work items that appear on the task board.

  • The column headings. You add or remove a column by adding or removing a state from the metastate mapping. For example, if you have a workflow state that you use to indicate blocked work items, you can map that state to have the blocked column appear on the board page.

  • The colors assigned to the work item types displayed.

  • The default team days off. Or, you can remove the days off completely.

  • The number of items that can appear on the task board, which is set to 500 items by default.

For details, see Process configuration XML element reference.