Process and team projects

VSTS (Hosted XML)


Feature availability:  Import process supports the Hosted XML process model which allows you to manage customizations through updating the WIT definition of a process template. This feature is only available for accounts that have been migrated to VSTS using the TFS Database Import Service.

If you use the Inheritance process model, you can customize your work tracking through the user interface by creating an inherited process. If you use the On-premises XML process model, you can customize a process template, see Upload or download a process template and Customize a process template.

To learn more about process models, see Customize work tracking.

In VSTS, you manage customization of work tracking objects through a process. Processes are imported and exported through a web based administration experience.

When you import a new process, you're able to create new team projects using it.
When you import an existing process, all team projects that use that process are updated to reflect the changes.

For example, updates made to any of the custom processes listed below automatically update the two team projects that use the process.

Custom processes mapped to projects

As you discover additional customizations that you need to make, you can export the existing process, update the process XML definition files, zip the result and re-import the newly updated process. Your changes will be applied to all your existing team projects that use that process.

Import process supports the following scenarios:

Import a process from an on-premises TFS

Your first step in migrating team projects that contain custom work tracking objects is to import the process to VSTS. In Team Foundation Server, each project has its own copy of process so careful consideration needs to be made as to which processes should exist for your organization. Migration to VSTSis a great time to think about process alignment across your organization and reducing the number of variants of that centralized process.

  1. Run the process export script to generate a process for a given team project.

  2. (Optional) Edit the ProcessTemplate.xml file name and description. Ensure it conforms to the rules and constraints outlined in Customize a process.

  3. Create a zip file of the process folder and files.

  4. Import the zip file of your custom process by following the steps in the next section.

  5. Repeat the above process for each process you want to import to VSTS.

  6. Using the imported process(es), create team projects on VSTS for each you want to migrate.

    With the project created, you can now migrate the project data to VSTS using the TFS Database Import Service.

Open Process in the admin context

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


    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. Click Process.

    Account Settings context, Process page

Import a process

Prior to importing a process, you'll want to customize it to support your work tracking needs. Name your process something other than Scrum, Agile, or CMMI. These system processes are locked and you're prevented from overwriting them.

  1. Only administrators can import process so if you aren't the account owner or a member of the Project Collection Administrator's group, get added.

  2. From the Process tab, choose import and then browse to the zip file of the process you've customized.


    If you don't see the Import process link, then your account isn't set up to support the Hosted XML process model. You should work with the Inheritance process model for your customization needs. The Hosted XML process model is only supported if your account was created through the Data Import Service.

    Import Process, choose process file to import

  3. Choose the file to upload. Your custom process must meet specific constraints in order to pass validation checks during import.

    Import Process, choose process file to import


    You can't update one of the locked processes: Agile, CMMI, and Scrum.

  4. Upon successful import, you'll see the following messsage.

    Import process dialog, Process file successfully imported

    If the process doesn't pass the validation checks performed on import, you'll receive a list of error messages.
    Correct each error and then retry the import.

  5. You can immediately create a team project using the newly imported process.

    Create team project from imported process

Update an existing process

Once you've added a process, you can update it by importing a zip file where you've modified one or more files within the process template.


It's a best practice to Export a process before making changes so that you don't accidentally overwrite changes made by other users.

  1. Import the process according to steps 2 and 3 from the previous procedure.

  2. Confirm that you want to update the existing process.

    Import process confirmation dialog

  3. You'll see the following dialog while the system updates all team projects that were created using the updated process.

    Apply process changes dialog

  4. Upon successful import, you'll see the following messsage. All team projects that were created with the process are updated with the modifications.

    Process page, Process template file successfully imported and team projects updated

  5. If you renamed or deleted fields or work item types, you will receive a confirmation message. Go ahead and check the box and proceed with the import. To learn more about each message, click the forward link provided. Information messages don't require any action on your part.

    Deleted field confirmation dialog

Set the default process

Set a process as the default to have it preselected for all new team projects you plan to create.

Process page, Set default process

Export a process

Export a process when you want to update it or use it as the basis for creating another process.

The system exports a zip file containing an XML representation of the process. This can be modified and later imported.