Get started as a Stakeholder

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

With Stakeholder access, you can add and modify work items, approve releases, and view dashboards. You can check project status and provide direction, feedback, feature ideas, and business alignment to a team.

Use this topic to learn:

  • How to sign-in to an account
  • How to add a work item
  • How to view the product backlog and add new work to it
  • How to view work in progress on the Kanban board
  • Find work assigned to you, or query for other work items
  • Understand the set of features you have access to

First time signing in

  1. If you're connecting to VSTS, click the link provided in the email invitation you should have received.

    Or, open a browser window and enter the URL for the web portal.


    On-premises TFS: http://ServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/ProjectName

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

  2. Enter your credentials. If you aren't able to sign in, ask the account owner or project administrator to add you as a member of the team project with Stakeholder access.

Add a work item

You might see different work item types in your view based on the process selected for your team project: Scrum, Agile, or CMMI.


A caution icon on a tab indicates values that violate validation rules. You must correct information on that tab in order to save the work item.

VSTS, TFS 2017

From the Work hub, choose a work item, for example User Story, from the New Work Item list of options. Click the pin icon pin icon to have it show up within the Work hub drop down menu.

Web portal, project page, Work hub, Add a work item

Enter a title and then save the work item. Before you can change the State from its initial default, you must save it.

Agile process, User story work item form

TFS 2015

From the Queries page, choose a work item from the New drop down menu.

TFS 2015, TFS 2013-Queries page, Add a work item

Enter a title and then save the work item. Before you can change the State from its initial default, you must save it.

You can add existing tags to any work item to support filter backlogs and queries.

Work items you add are automatically scoped to your team's area and iteration paths. To change the team context, see Switch team project or team focus.


Depending on the process chosen when the team project was created—Scrum, Agile, or CMMI—the types of work items you can create will differ. For example, backlog items may be called product backlog items (Scrum), user stories (Agile), or requirements (CMMI). All three are similar: they describe the customer value to deliver and the work to be performed.

For an overview of all three processes, see Choose a process.

Check the backlog or add new work

Work appears in the backlog in priority order.

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

    Backlog page with work items in priority order

  2. To add a new item, select the type and then name it. Your items are added to the bottom of the list.

    Add a backlog item from the quick add panel

Check work in progress

To view the team's work status, open the Kanban board. Click the title of an item to open or edit it.

View Kanban board

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

Open the Queries page to see the list of work items assigned to you.

Queries page, items assigned to you

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

Run a shared query

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

Query Editor

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

If you want to provide a group of users access to provide feedback, then you don't need to give them Stakeholder access. Instead, simply give reviewers permissions to provide feedback.

Stakeholder feature access


Feature availability: The following features are available from VSTS or from the web portal of the listed on-premises TFS version or a later version. Those not annotated are available from all platforms and versions. To determine your platform or TFS version, see Platform and version support.


  1. Stakeholders cannot view markdown README files defined for repositories.
  2. In order to add users and assign licenses for VSTS, stakeholders must be added to the Project Collection Administrators group. Also, they must use the current Users page (not the Streamlined User Management page under preview) in order to manage users. To learn more, see Manage users and access.
  3. Stakeholders can only view and approve releases.
  4. Stakeholders can assign existing tags to work items, but not create new tags.
  5. Stakeholders cannot change the backlog priority order (all items are added at the end of the backlog), assign items to an iteration using drag and drop, use the mapping pane or forecasting.
  6. Stakeholders cannot move cards on the board to update status, set the values of fields shown on cards, or set or view team capacity.
  7. Stakeholders can save queries under My Queries but cannot save under Shared Queries.

Also, Stakeholders cannot add or view Delivery Plans.

If you choose a feature that's not available to you as a stakeholder, you'll receive an error message indicating that you have insufficient permissions when you try to complete the task.

Features stakeholders can't access

If you need access to the following features—which support the daily work of product owners, team leads, developers, testers, and project administrators—you need to be have Basic access:

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


Stakeholders can view administrative pages that support managing permissions, area and iteration paths, and more; however, for the most part, they can't modify any objects on these pages. The one exception is their ability to manage users and access.