Work on the Kanban board

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

You can use the Kanban board to view work in progress, who's doing the work, what needs to be done next, and what's been accomplished.

For Visual Studio Online users, see Work on the Kanban board.

  1. If you don't have a backlog yet, create one.

  2. Go to your team's backlog page and open the Kanban board. All contributors to a team project can use the Kanban board to update work.

    Open the Kanban board

    Your first 20 items appear in backlog priority order, so if you don't see a backlog item, it probably isn't in your top 20. To change the maximum number, jump to Set max work items and work in progress limits.

    View of the Kanban board

    To change the order of items in your backlog, go here.

  3. Move an item into another column to change its state.

    Move an item to a different column

  4. Assign an item to someone. You can also set an estimate.

    Give the item an owner or an estimate

  5. You can review progress over time by expanding the chart.

    Open the cumulative flow diagram

    The cumulative flow diagram (CFD) shows up to 30 weeks of data. You can configure the start date.

    View the cumulative flow diagram

Customize your Kanban board

  1. If you’re not a team administrator, get added as one. Only team administrators can customize the Kanban board.

  2. Open the customization dialog.

    Change column limits

Set max work items and work in progress (WIP) limits

  • Manage the amount of work your team has in progress by setting work in progress (WIP) limits for each column.

    Set the work in progress limit for a column

    The Max work items that you set on the first and last columns restrict the number of items that will appear in those columns. The first column lists items in their stack ranked order. The last column displays those items that your team has most recently completed.

    You can see when a column has more items in it than the WIP limit.

    Change column limits

Change the title of a column

  • If the title of a column doesn't reflect how your team works, you can change it.

    You can modify the names of the columns

Add, move, or delete a column

You can add, move, and delete columns, also known as swim lanes. A swim lane is a pseudo state or interim state within a workflow state. Although you can track progress on the Kanban board with these pseudo states, you can't query for items that are in these states.

  1. To add a column ...

    Add a column or swim lane

    Then, give it a title and assign corresponding workflow states.

    Add column and define all fields

  2. You can also move columns (except the first and last columns).

    You cannot move the first or last column

  3. To delete a column, first make sure that no work items are listed in the column. If there are, move them to another column first and then delete the column.

    Delete a column

Try this next

Q & A

Q: How do I move multiple items at one time?

A: To update the status of several items, use the query results bulk edit feature. From the backlogs and boards, you can only move one item at a time.

Q: How do I change the start date for the CFD?

A: Open the Edit Chart dialog from the CFD and choose the start date. (This feature requires TFS 2013.2)

Edit chart start date

Q: What features require a team administrator to change?

A: Team administrator permissions are role-based and address a subset of those tasks allocated to Project Administrators. See Administer team activities

Q: Can I use the Kanban board with Features or portfolio backlogs?

A: Yes, the Features Kanban board, or Kanban boards for other portfolio backlog work item types, works just like the Kanban board for backlog items.

Q: Why aren't all of my completed items in the done column?

A: The done column displays the Max work items that you specify. By default, it’s set to 20 completed items, with the ones you completed most recently at the top. (The Max work items feature requires TFS 2013.2)

Q: Why are the column headings different than those shown?

A: These column headings are for a team project that uses the Scrum process template. If your team project uses a different process template, the headings might be different. Also, someone else on your team might have changed the column titles.

Q: Do you want to have bugs or other work item types appear on your Kanban board?

A: Some teams like to track bugs as tasks and other teams track them as backlog items, such as user stories or requirements. If you’re using a Scrum project, bugs are already in your backlog and appear on your Kanban board. However, if your team project was created using the Agile, CMMI, or other process template, bugs don't appear on the task board or the backlog. You can learn how to add them here.

Q: Do you want to work with multiple backlogs?

A: You can manage a portfolio with portfolio backlogs. To learn about managing a portfolio or projects with multiple teams, see this whitepaper: Agile Portfolio Management: Using TFS to support backlogs across multiple teams.

Q: Do you want to manage your backlog in TFS and use Microsoft Project?

A: You can work in both TFS and Project to manage backlog and tasks. See Create your backlog and tasks using Project.

Q: Would you like to learn more from industry experts about managing your work?

A: See these whitepapers: Build and manage the product backlog and Estimating.