Agile tools

Visual Studio Online | Visual Studio 2015 | Previous versions

As a project manager you can plan and track the work required to bring your applications from idea to completion. Agile tools provide you with the power, flexibility, and responsiveness you need to stay on top of changing priorities, deadlines, and requirements.

To use these tools, you need to first create a team project. You can do that either in the cloud with Visual Studio Online, or by creating one on an on-premises Team Foundation Server (TFS).







To manage work, you have access to three flavors of backlogs: product, sprints, and portfolio. Each backlog displays work items in list or board format. You use work items to share information, assign work to team members, track dependencies, organize work, and more.

With list backlogs you can quickly develop your project plan and group and prioritize work. With boards, you can quickly update status and fields displayed for each work item.

Your backlog corresponds to your road map for what your team plans to deliver. Once defined, you have a prioritized list of features and requirements to build. Your backlog also provides a storehouse of all the information you need to track and share with your team.

Create your backlog

Plan your project by adding a work item for each user story or requirement to develop

Build your backlog of user stories and requirements

Track issues and other types of work

Different types of work items track different types of work - such as bugs, test cases, risks, issues, and more

Manage bugs

Capture and triage bugs using a variety of tools

Choose how you want to track bugs

Each team can choose how they want to manage bugs and where they'll show up on the backlogs and boards

Choices for tracking bugs

Organize your backlog

Group items into a hierarchical list using portfolio backlogs and quickly reorder and re-parent items to effectively manage your deliverables

Link work items

Track related work, dependencies, and changes made over time by linking work items

Link control, web portal


Visualize your ideas and user stories and support greater understanding of them by storyboarding them with PowerPoint, also link your storyboards to your backlog work items

Request feedback

Request feedback on working software and easily track responses that capture interaction with video, verbal, or type-written comments

Request feedback


Scrum teams use sprint backlogs to plan sprints and focus on just the set of work they want to accomplish during a sprint.

Sprint backlogs organize work for a sprint

Define sprints

Schedule and activate your team's sprints to gain access to sprint backlogs and task boards Set start and end dates for a sprint

Plan sprints

Build your sprint backlog, add tasks, and load balance work across your team as you plan your sprint

sprint backlogs

Velocity & forecasting

Use velocity & forecast tools to estimate work that can be completed in future sprints

Forecast when work can get done

Manage resources

Use capacity planning tools to track individual, team, and activity over and under capacity for a sprint

Capacity bars

Track work on your task board

Use your task board during your daily Scrum meetings to view and update progress

Sprint burndown charts

Monitor progress and review team patterns from sprint burndown charts

Sprint burndown chart


Your Kanban board turns your backlog into an interactive signboard, providing a visual flow of work. Each Kanban column represents a work stage, and each card represents a work item. Using the product backlog Kanban board, you can quickly update workflow status by moving items to a downstream column or different swimlane.

Drag items into a swimlane

Kanban basics

Use your Kanban board to visualize and track the flow of work from idea to completion as well as quickly update work item fields

Update fields on cards

Add task checklists

Add and mark tasks as done with lightweight tasks checklists

Track tasks with a checklist

Add columns

Customize columns to support your team's workflow and track work from start to finish
Add columns to map your workflow

Set WIP limits

Set constraints on the amount of work your team undertakes at each work stage to gain access to sprint backlogs and task boards

Set WIP limits to constrain the work in progress

Definition of done

Support your team to be in sync about when to handoff items to a downstream work stage

Split columns

Turn on split columns to track the lag between when items are done in one state and work actually starts in a new state

Expedite work

Use swimlanes to track work at different service-level classes

Customize cards

Add fields to cards that you can edit directly on your Kanban and task boards
Customized card with added work item fields and styling rules


Track and visualize progress using fit-for-purpose tools. You can search the code base, list work items, and set up alerts to get notified when changes that you care about occur.


Open shared queries or create your own query using the query editor to list work items or show hierarchical or dependent items

Work item search box: find work items based on ID, assignment, changed date, or keyword

Use the search box to find work items based on ID, assignment, changed date, or keyword

Query by workflow or Kanban board changes: List work items based on changes made to the workflow or Kanban board

Query by date or current iteration: List work items based on when changes occurred or if they belong to the team's current sprint

Use CodeLens to find references and changes to your code, linked bugs, work items, code reviews, and unit tests


Add tags to work items to filter backlogs and queries

Add tags to filter backlogs, boards, and queries

Manage risks and dependencies

Link work items to track related work, dependencies, and changes made over time

Alerts & notifications

Get notified as changes occur to work items, code reviews, source control files, and builds

History & Auditing

Review and query work item change history to learn of past decisions and support future ones


Build charts that bring your data to life and share them with your team, organization, and stakeholders

Create status and trend charts from flat list queries


Create dashboards that show progress and trends and make them visible to your team and stakeholders

Team dashboards provide a centralized location for keeping both the team and stakeholders in sync. Each dashboard tile provides quick access to the progress of builds, status of work items, or latest code changes.

Access pinned items from the team dashboard/homepage


How do you manage work across the enterprise using Agile tools? How do Agile tools scale to support a growing enterprise?

As your organization grows, your tools can grow to meet your needs in the following ways:

Related notes

You access tools provided by Visual Studio Online and TFS by connecting from a client to the server, either in the cloud or on-premises. Some tools require an Advanced license or Advanced access.

Team projects and process

Team Foundation clients and additional tools