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Create a backlog

Creating a backlog helps you define the work that needs to be done. Once you have a backlog, you can use it to help manage when that work gets done, as well as associate items on the backlog with check-ins, acceptance tests, or other criteria.

  1. If your team doesn’t have one, set up your team project now. If you do have a team project, but you don’t have access to it, get invited to the team.

  2. Open the backlog page from Team Web Access or Team Explorer. For example, the Fabrikam, Inc. team navigates to http://fabrikamprime:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/Fabrikam%20Fiber%20Website/_backlogs.

    Open your team's backlog page
  3. Create a backlog item. Enter a title and add the item.

    Add an item to your product backlog

    Different backlog item types appear with different colors, to help you distinguish them at a glance. For example, bugs show as a different color than backlog items.

    Different types have different colors

    Want to create a portfolio backlog instead? Work with portfolio backlogs

  4. Highlight an item in the list, and then add another item. It will be added where focus is in the backlog, which is indicated by a line.

    The green line shows where the item will go.

    You can move the focus in the backlog with the up and down arrows on the keyboard, or with a pointing tool.

A: Yes. Move items in the list to change their priority.

Reorder items in the list to show priority.

Now it is reordered.

The numbering changes to reflect the order.

To move an item in the list using the keyboard, hold down the Alt key and use the up and down arrows.

A: If you don't see a backlog item listed, check the area path of the item. Only backlog items assigned to the default area path for the team will appear in your backlog. (You can use predefined queries or create queries on the Queries page to find missing backlog items.)

A: No, but you can change the status of items so that they don't appear. You can also change the area path of a backlog item so that it no longer shows up as work for your team.

A: Yes. Open a backlog item and provide an estimate of the effort (story points or size) required to complete it.

You can provide an estimate of work.

A: Yes, depending on the type of project you created (or more specifically, the process template you chose when creating the project). If you use Scrum, you'll create backlog items and features in the backlogs, with estimates in the effort field. If you use MSF for Agile Software Development, you'll create stories and features in the backlogs, and estimate story points. With MSF for CMMI Process Improvement, you'll create requirements and features in the backlogs, and estimate size.

A: Each of the backlogs serves similar but distinct purposes. The product backlog and portfolio backlogs contain high-level views of the stories, deliverables, features, or experiences that product owners want to track for the duration of a product release. Your product owner ranks the backlog items or deliverables in these backlog views and provides sufficient detail during the planning meeting so that your team can estimate and implement product backlog items.

In contrast, your team creates the sprint backlog, which contains the tasks to complete to finish backlog items committed for the sprint. In the product backlog, your team estimates the Effort, Size, or Story Points of backlog items. In the sprint backlog, your team estimates tasks, usually in hours or days. You do not need to create a sprint backlog in order to use the product and portfolio backlogs, but you will need to create a product backlog in order to create sprint backlogs.

Your product owner might update the product backlog every week, while your team might update the sprint backlog daily. Your product owner maintains the same product backlog throughout the project, but your team creates a new sprint backlog for each sprint.

The following table provides a comparison of each backlog's features.

Feature

Portfolio backlog

Product backlog

Sprint backlog

Level of detail

Less detailed

Less detailed

Very detailed

Mapping

Supported

Supported

Supported

Board type

Kanban

Kanban

Task

Add more backlog page views

Yes, see Add a backlog to Agile portfolio management

No

Yes, see Schedule sprints

Prioritize items on the page

Yes

Yes

No (items inherit priority from backlog)

Forecast

No

Yes

No

Filtering

Tags

Tags

N/A

Chart

Cumulative flow diagram

Cumulative flow diagram

Burndown, capacity

Duration

Project

Project

Sprint

Persistent

Yes

Yes

Yes

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