Agile process

Visual Studio Team Services | Visual Studio 2015 | Previous versions

Using the work item types (WITs), reports, and dashboards shown in the illustration, teams can plan projects, then track, view, and report their progress. These artifacts, which are based on Agile principles and values, are created when you create a team project using the Agile process.

Agile process artifacts

Feature availability: Select artifacts, such as SQL Server Reporting Services reports and dashboards, are only available when you connect to a team project from an on-premises Team Foundation Server (TFS). Other resource requirements apply to working with these artifacts.

If you connect to VS Team Services, you’ll always have access to the latest version of the Agile process, which you can also customize.

If you connect to an on-premises Team Foundation Server (TFS), the latest version of the Agile process uploads automatically when you install or upgrade to the latest version of TFS. Use the Process Template Manager to download and upload process templates. go here to learn how to customize team projects.

In addition to the WITs, reports, and dashboards, teams have access to a set of shared work item queries to track information, analyze progress, and make decisions.

Plan and track work

Teams plan their project by capturing features and requirements as user stories. They track bugs, work, and blocking issues using the bug, task, and issue WITs. To support portfolio management, teams create features to view a roll up of user stories across teams. For details about using these WITs, see Agile process work item types and workflow.

Agile work item types

A work item is a database record that contains the definition, assignment, priority, and state of work. Work item types define the template of fields, workflow, and form for each type. Work items can be linked to each other to support tracking dependencies, roll up of work, and reports.

List work items using queries

You can manage your workload more effectively by frequently reviewing the status of user stories and tasks. You can use the shared work item queries to list work items for a current sprint or the product backlog.

Agile work item queries

You can open these queries from the Work/Queries page in the web portal or from the Work Items page in Team Explorer. You can modify a query using the query editor to apply different filter criteria. Also, you can add queries to team dashboards.

From Team Explorer, you can open any work item query in Excel to perform bulk edits.

Quick tips

Review these tips to learn how you can manage work more effectively:

  • You can find work items that are assigned to you by opening one of the "My" shared queries. To open a query, select it and choose Enter.
  • All valid users with standard access can create queries and folders under the My Queries area. To create queries and query folders under Shared Queries , you must have the Contribute permission set. For more information, see Set permissions on queries.
  • You can find work items that are neither resolved nor closed for the current iteration by using any of the Active or Open shared queries. For example, the Open User Stories query lists all stories that are Active and assigned to Iteration 1. You must update the query to point to the current iteration.
  • You can modify any query by adding criteria to focus on a product area, an iteration, or another field. To modify a query, open the query editor.
  • You can open any query in Excel or Project, where you can modify the query and publish your changes to the database for tracking work items.
  • You can visualize progress by creating a pie-chart, column chart, or other chart for flat-list queries.
  • Each team should consider creating a team folder under the Shared Queries area and providing contributor permissions to the team members.

Product backlog and feedback queries

Product owners can use the shared queries that are defined in the following table to plan and track user stories that compose the product backlog.

Shared query


Product Backlog

Provides a tree list of all user stories that are in a New, Active or Resolved state and sorts them by rank.

Product Planning

Provides a flat list of all user stories that are not in a Removed state, and have not been closed in the last 90 days.


Lists all feedback responses that are in an Active state.

Iteration planning queries

The following table describes the shared queries that are listed under the Current Iteration folder. These queries find work items that are assigned to a specified iteration. As you plan additional iterations, you can modify these queries to specify a different iteration and then save them to additional folders that you create, such as Iteration 2 or Iteration 3.

The project administrator for each team project defines area and iteration paths for that project so that the team can track progress by those designations.

Shared query


Active Bugs

Lists all active bugs and sorts them by rank, priority, and severity.

Active Tasks

Lists all active tasks and sorts them by rank, priority, and severity.

Bug Triage

Lists all active bugs that are not assigned to a team member.

The Triage Workbook references this query.

Completed Tasks

Lists all tasks that have been closed and sorts them by rank, priority, and severity.

Iteration Backlog

Lists all user stories and their linked tasks and sorts the stories by rank and priority.

Open Issues

Lists all issues under the specified iteration path that are not closed and any tasks that are linked to the issues and then sorts the issues by rank and priority.

The Issues Workbook references this query.

Open Test Cases

Lists all test cases that are not closed and sorts them by priority.

Open User Stories

Lists all active user stories and sorts them by their stack rank.

Resolved Bugs

Lists all resolved bugs and sorts them by rank, priority, and severity.

User Stories

Lists all user stories that are not closed and sorts them by priority and then ID,

User Stories without Test Cases

Lists all user stories that do not have a link to a test case. Stories are sorted by ID.

Tip: Queries listed under the Current Iteration folder do not automatically update when a new iteration becomes current. The current iteration is based on the dates that you assign to your sprint schedules. You must manually update the iteration path of each query to have it point to the iteration path that corresponds to the current iteration. Or, you can edit the shared query to use the @CurrentIteration macro.

Find tasks with summary values

The Work Items With Summary Values shared query, which is located in the Troubleshooting folder, lists all tasks that have child tasks and that contain non-zero values in the Remaining Work or Completed Work fields. This query is designed to find tasks that report work effort that is already accounted for in their child tasks. For the hours to be counted only once, summary tasks should not be assigned any hours. For more information, see Address inaccuracies published for summary values.


You can use the following Excel workbooks to review open issues and to rank and assign untriaged work items. Each workbook references a shared query.

Feature availability: Workbooks are only available when you connect to an on-premises TFS that's been configured with a SharePoint portal.

Because these queries support workbooks, if you change these queries, it will affect those workbooks that use them.

Monitor progress

All processes--Agile, Scrum, and CMMI--support building status and trend charts and dashboards. In addition, several charts are automatically built based on the Agile tools you use. These charts display within the web portal.

Power BI reports

If you connect to VS Team Services, then you can use Power BI to create charts and reports.

SQL Server reports

If you connect to an on-premises TFS, you can access the following Agile process reports. For these reports to be useful, teams must perform certain activities, such as define build processes, link work items, and update status or remaining work.

To access these reports, your team project collection and the team project must be configured with SQL Server Analysis Services and Reporting Services. If you need to add reporting services or update reports to the latest versions, see Add reports to a team project.

Project management reportsTest and bug reportsBuild reports

SharePoint portal dashboards

If you connect to an on-premises TFS, you can access Agile process dashboards displayed through SharePoint. These dashboards display project data, support investigation tasks, and help teams to perform common tasks quickly. The following dashboards support the display of web access parts for listing work items and reports that were built in the Analysis Services cube.

Standard dashboardsEnterprise dashboards

To use Dashboards your team project must have a project portal configured and the project portal must point to a SharePoint site.

Related notes

Before you start tracking work, you must have a team project. To create one hosted in the cloud, see Sign up for Visual Studio Team Services. To create one hosted on an on-premises TFS, see Create a team project.

If you have a team project, start tracking work:

For more information on Agile tools: