Customize the workflow

VSTS

Each work item type is associated with a workflow that supports tracking the status of work as it moves from creation to completion. To support your business and team processes, you can add custom states to most work item types (WITs). For example, you may want to insert a Triaged state for bugs, or a Design state for features or user stories.

Here, the Bug WIT has been customized to support a Triaged state. The state and reason fields appear on the work item form in the header area.

Bug work item form, header area

Note

Before adding a workflow state, review Workflow states and state categories to learn how workflow states map to state categories.

Prerequisites

  • You must have an organization created in VSTS. If you haven't created one yet, do that now.
  • You must be a member of the Project Collection Administrators group, the organization owner, or be granted explicit permissions to edit, create, or manage a specific process and to create a project.

    If you aren't a project administrator, get added as one. Or, have someone provide you with explicit permissions to Edit or Create a specific process and Create new projects.

Open Settings>Process hub

You create, manage, and make customizations to processes from the Settings>Process hub.

  1. To open the admin context from the user context, choose the settings icon and choose Account settings.

    Important

    If you don't see the Account settings option, then you're working from an on-premises TFS. The Process page isn't supported. You must use the features supported for the On-premises XML process model as described in Customize your work tracking experience.

    VSTS web portal, open Account Settings

  2. Choose Process.

    Account Settings context, Process page

Note

As you customize an inherited process, all projects that use that process will update automatically to reflect the customizations. For this reason, we recommend that you create a test process and test project when you have a number of customizations to make in order to test the customizations prior to rolling them out to your organization. To learn more, see Create and manage inherited processes.

Add a workflow state

States you add will appear in the picklist for the States field shown in work item forms and the query editor. A transition to and from the State you add is created to every other State, except not to a Removed state. Also, default reasons are defined, such as Moved to state Triaged, Moved out of state Triaged.

Note

States that you add to the task WIT will add columns to the task board. If you track bugs along with tasks, then states you add to the bug WIT will also add columns to the task board. You don't have to add the same states to each of these WITs, however, you may want to do so in order to update the status in the same way and to minimize the number of columns that get added.

If you add a state to a WIT which you is associated with a backlog level, each team will need to update their Kanban board columm settings in order to view and use the affected Kanban board.

  1. From the Work Item Types page, choose the work item type you want to modify, choose States, and then choose New State.

    Process page, Bug WIT, States tab, Add state

  2. Enter the name of the State, choose its category and color, and then click Save. The color you specify will appear throughout the product including on the work item form and when the State field appears on a backlog, boards, query results, and more.

    State dialog box

    Note

    You can't change the order of states. States are listed in the order you add them within the States page, and they're listed alphabetically within the drop down list of a work item form).

  3. When you've finished adding states for the WIT, verify your changes by refreshing your browser and open a work item of the type you just customized.

    Here we show the state drop down field with Triaged selected.

    Bug form, Triaged state added

  4. Remember, when you add a state to a WIT which is associated with a backlog level, each team that uses the Kanban board will need to update their column settings.

Edit a state

You can edit the category or the color of a custom state. However, you can't change the name of the custom state.

  1. Choose Edit from the … context menu for the state you want to modify.

    Bug WIT, Edit custom state

  2. Modify the category or color, and then click Save.

  3. If you change the category, teams that use the Kanban board to update their status will need to update their column settings.

Hide or remove a state

When you hide or remove a state:

  • The state no longer appears in the State picklist for the WIT
  • No changes occur to the work item history
  • Existing work items maintain their state value, but are in an invalid state. If you want to make a change to the work item, you must first update the state values. You may want to create a query and do a bulk update to move the affected work items into a valid state. If you add the state back to the work item type, the work items revert to a valid state.

Hide or unhide an inherited state

You can hide an inherited state that your team doesn't use in its workflow process. However, you must have at least one state defined for each category.

  1. Open the … context menu for the state you want to hide and choose the Hide option.

    Here we hide the Resolved state for the Bug WIT.

    Hide an inherited state

    Note

    If you hide the state of a WIT tracked on a Kanban board, each team that uses the Kanban board will need to update their column settings.

  2. To unhide, open the … context menu and choose the Unhide option.

Remove a custom state

  1. Open the … context menu for the state you want to remove, and choose Remove. You can only remove a custom state.

  2. From the Remove State dialog, click Remove.

    Remove state warning dialog box

  3. If teams use the Kanban board to update their status, each team will need to update their column settings.