Work with portfolio backlogs

Visual Studio 2013

Do you like to start by thinking big—defining your large features first and then break down and define work as you go along? You can work with a hierarchical portfolio of backlog items by creating features and then creating links between those features and the backlog items that support them. You can then view overall progress for features as well as for the backlog items that support them.

You can drill down from one backlog to the other to view the level of detail you prefer. For example, you can view the backlog items and bugs associated with each feature item in a Scrum project.

Drill down to backlog items, bugs, and tasks

You can use the default backlogs with the single team that is created when you create a team project. However, if you want a more nuanced view of progress across several teams, with a separate view of progress for management, you can configure that, too, by creating a hierarchy of teams.

  1. Create some Features.

    Quick add features from the Features backlog
  2. Now open a feature and create some backlog items.

    You can also link existing work items

    This creates a parent-child link between the feature and the backlog item.

    Alternatively, if you already have existing backlog items, or just want to create backlog items quickly from the quick add bar and associate them later, you can create the parent-child relationships to support the automatic reporting of progress by using the mapping pane. First, turn it on.

    Toggle the mapping switch to enable or disable

    Now drop items from the backlog onto the mapping pane feature you want to associate as a parent.

    Drag and drop, or select, shift focus to parent
  3. Once you've created the hierarchy, you can view one or more hierarchical backlog views.

    Drill down to backlog items, bugs, and tasks

Some teams like to break down their work even further, defining the really big picture and breaking it down into increasingly detailed layers of smaller work items. If two levels of backlog aren't enough for you, you can add up to four more. Learn how here, or read a whitepaper to see examples of configuring TFS to support a hierarchical team structure and multiple backlogs: Agile Portfolio Management: Using TFS to support backlogs across multiple teams.

A team only sees initiatives they work on

If you want to split work among teams and have those teams' work roll up into a portfolio backlog, you can configure that, too. It's easy to create a hierarchy of teams for your project and add people to them. You'll be able to manage your portfolio of work by grouping items according to backlog levels and see how it's being accomplished across multiple teams.

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