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Customize work tracking objects to support your team's processes

For on-premises deployments of Team Foundation Server (TFS), you can customize how you plan and track work. To add or modify a field, a work item type (WIT), or an Agile planning tool, see one of the topics listed in the table below.

If you have additional needs for customizing your team project, see An end-to-end view of what you can configure and customize in Visual Studio TFS.

Depending on your customization requirements, you might want to configure defaults by customizing a process template. You create a team project from a process template. Objects that you customize within the process template provide the initial configuration of the object. By customizing a process template, you increase compliance with processes across all team projects that are created with the process template. For more information about default TFS process templates, go here.

You can make many customizations at different scope levels. As you plan your customization requirements, consider the scope areas outlined in the following table.


Implementation notes

Project or collection scope

  • Process template: Choose this option when you plan to create several team projects and you want to minimize the time to get projects up and running and enforce compliance of team processes. To learn about customizing a process template, go here.

  • Project collection: Changes you make to work item fields, global lists, and link types impact all team projects defined in the team project collection. Consider the implications when implementing changes at this level.

  • Team project: Choose this option when you only want to make changes that your team or group of teams working in the same team project require.

    To apply changes to several team projects, you will need to import changes to object definition files to several team projects.

  • Team: Choose this option when only your team requires the changes. To learn what you can configure, see Collaborate using team resources.

Data integration requirements

A select set of fields integrate with Team Foundation Build, Test Manager, and Team Foundation version control. These applications automate the assignment of data to these fields. See Fields that support integration with test, build, and version control.

Localization and globalization requirements

You can localize the names of WITs, fields, and many elements defined for a WIT. See Localization and globalization of WITD child elements.

Category groups required to support cross-group efforts

When you have similar WITs with different names, you can use categories to group them and generate reports more easily. Categories support flexible queries, reporting, process configuration, and integration across team projects. See Use categories to group work item types.

Upgrades to TFS may introduce new features which require updates to one or more WITs or the process configuration for your existing team project. Minimizing changes to the workflow for a WIT or the process configuration can help minimize the work you must do when you upgrade your TFS.

To minimize your maintenance operations, follow these recommended practices:

  • Identify the best options for customizing work items that support your tracking requirements. When you change objects that track work items, you should identify how these changes will affect existing and future team projects.

  • Put process templates and all XML definition files under version control. Do not deploy objects that you define but have not stored in a repository.

  • Test your customized objects just as you would test your software.

  • Minimize the number of custom fields that you introduce. Minimize the number of fields that you make reportable.

In addition, changes you make to WITs or the workflow could require updates to other artifacts provided with your process template, such as Excel or SQL Server Reporting Services reports.

To learn more about updating team projects after a TFS upgrade, see Configure features after a TFS upgrade.

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