Customize a process

VSTS (Inheritance)

Your process provides the building blocks for tracking work. For each work item type (WIT) you want to customize, you do so from the WIT's Process>Layout page. If you haven't created an inherited process yet, do that now. You can only customize inherited processes.

Any changes you make to the inherited process will automatically show up in the team projects that use that process.

For example, the following image shows the work item form layout for the Bug WIT. From this page, you can add fields, groups, pages, and custom controls. To modify the workflow, you click States.

Admin context, Process, Work item types, bug type, layout tab

What you can customize

You can customize the elements listed below. Some options of inherited elements are locked and can't be customized. To perform any of these actions, you must be a member of the Project Collection Administrators group or be granted explicit permissions to edit a specific process.


For a list of limits placed on the number of fields, work item types, backlog levels, and other objects you can customize, see Work tracking object limits.


Choose your inherited process, the work item type and then add and edit fields from the Layout page. Customizations are subject to the guidelines and limitations outlined under What is a field?.

Work item types

Choose your inherited process, and then add or edit a work item type from the Work item types page.

Web form layout

Choose your inherited process and the work item type, and then modify the form from the Layout page.

Workflow states

Choose your inherited process, the work item type, and then modify the workflow from the States page.


Choose your inherited process, and then modify the backlogs configuration from the Backlog levels page. Inherited backlogs aren't locked.

Start customizing

The easiest way to start customizing a process is to start from the work item of the type you want to customize.

  1. From the web portal, open the WIT you want to customize, open the context menu, and choose the Customize.

    Web portal, web form, open context menu, choose Customizee

    • If the team project already uses an inherited process, then the Layout page for the corresponding WIT will open.

      For example, the MyAgile process, User Story WIT, Layout page appears.

      Web portal, web form, open context menu, choose Customize


      The Add custom control option only appears when qualifying extensions have been added from the Marketplace.

    • If the team project uses a system process, but a valid inherited process has been defined, then you have the option to select which inherited process you want the team project to use.

      Web portal, Choose process dialoge

      Upon choosing, the Layout page for the corresponding process and WIT opens.

    • If the team project uses a system process, and no valid inherited process have been defined, then the system will automatically create an inherited process, labeling it AccountName_ParentProcessName—for example, fabrikam Agile—and automatically update the team project to use the process. You can later rename the process.

      After which, the Layout page for the corresponding process and WIT opens.

  2. From the Layout page, you can customize the WIT. Review the next section for a summary of all the customizations you can make.

Open the Process hub from the user context

You can also start customizing an inherited process by navigating to the inherited process from the user 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 are 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.

    Default Collection Overview, Projects reference processes

  2. Click Process and then select the inherited process you want to customize. If you haven't yet created an inherited process, do that now. See Create an inherited process.

    Web portal, Account menu, Turn on new navigation selection

  3. From the Work Item Types page, choose the WIT that you want to customize.

    Here we open Bug for the MyAgile process.

    Process page, WITs

Web versus Visual Studio form layouts

The customizations you make only impact the work item forms displayed in a web browser. The work item forms displayed in Visual Studio or other supported clients won't reflect any process customizations you make.

Return to the process list

To return to the Process page, simply click the Process hub or the All processes breadcrumb link.

Return to process overview page

To return to a specific process and choose another WIT to customize, click the process name from the breadcrumb link.

Keep in mind that all team projects that reference the inherited process that you're customizing will automatically update to contain the modifications you make.

To customize a single team project, always start by creating an inherited process and changing the team project to use that process. Then, all the customizations that you make to the inherited process automatically appear for the team project you migrated.

See also:

Programmatically work with processes

You can get, create, update, and delete processes defined for an account using the REST API, Processes.