Organize your backlog, map child work items to parents

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

After you've added features or epics to your portfolio backlog, you can quickly organize your backlog by mapping backlog items to them. With features and epics, you can quickly add and group items into a hierarchy, drill up or down within the hierarchy, reorder and reparent items, and filter hierarchical views.

In this topic you'll learn:

  • How to view the tree hierarchy
  • How to group backlog items using the Mapping pane
  • How to reparent items using drag-and-drop or the Change parent option
  • How to view the tree hierarchy
  • How to group backlog items using the Mapping pane
  • How to reparent items using drag-and-drop


The epic portfolio backlog is supported in TFS 2015 and later versions.


  • You must be a member of the Contributors group or be granted Stakeholder access to add, modify, or remove work items
  • Or, you must have your View work items in this node, and your Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow.

To learn more, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.

Show parents and expand the tree hierarchy

From the product backlog page, set Parents to Show when you want to drill up or down within the hierarchy. You can also drag and drop items to reparent items from this view.

Hierarchical view of backlogs


The images you see from your web portal may differ from the images you see in this topic. These differences result from updates made to your web app, options that you or your admin have enabled, and which process was chosen when creating your team project—Agile, Scrum, or CMMI.

Use the expand expand icon and collapse collapse icon icons to expand or collapse one level of the hierarchy.

Collapsed hierachical view

Map items to group them under a feature or epic

If you've already created your backlog, and now you want to organize it, you can do that most easily by mapping them.

To map a backlog item under a feature, you first turn mapping on from your backlog (Backlog items, Stories, or Requirements). Next, find the Unparented backlog items group by turning the Parents control to Show. Unparented backlog items will appear at the end of the parented set of backlog items.

Drag items that are currently unparented to the feature under which they belong. Also, you can drag a backlog item to a different feature to change its parent. This mapping creates parent-child links from feature to user stories, which is captured in the Links tab icon (links) tab.

Map a backlog item to a portfolio backlog work item

You can multi-selectwork items on the backlog and sprint backlogs in the same way as multi-select works within query results.

Multi-select of work items on the backlog and sprint backlogs requires TFS 2015.1 or later versions. This feature works in the same way as multi-select works within query results.

It's the same process to map features to epics. From the Features backlog, drag features to an epic listed under the mapping pane.

Change parent (re-parent) and reorder items

When you need to change the order or grouping, simply drag the item to its new location.

You can re-parent an item using the mapping pane, or simply drag it within the hierarchy to change its parent.

Reparent or reorder work items on a backlog

You can only re-parent backlog items under other features, and features under other epics.

Also, to change an item's priority within a group, you can drag the item up or down within its hierarchical group. This works the same as when you moved items into priority order on your product backlog.

Change parent of multiple backlog items

From the product backlog you can multi-select several work items and choose Change parent… to link the items to a parent work item item.

Change parent of several backlog items