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Use work items to manage a project

You add work items to plan and manage your project in Team Foundation Server (TFS). With work items, you can describe the work to be done, assign work, track status, and coordinate efforts within your team.

Different types of work items are used to track features, user experiences, code defects, tasks, and issues. You can link work items to one another, as well as to changesets and source code files. As the following image shows, each work item form comes with a number of controls, fields, and tabs.

Work item form to track features or user stories

From a team project or team home page, you can start adding work items.

  1. If you or your team hasn’t created a team project, do that now.

  2. If you haven’t been added as a team member, get added now.

  3. From a web browser, connect to the team project that you want to work in. For example, the Fabrikam, Inc. team navigates to http://fabrikamprime:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/Fabrikam%20Fiber%20Website/.

    From the home page, you can choose the type of work item you want to create.

    Home page -  create work items
  4. Enter a title and then save the work item. Before you change the default State, you must save it.

    Product backlog item work item form

    The types of work items available to you depend on the process template used to create the team project. To learn more, see Scrum work item types (Product Backlog Item plus others), Agile work item types (User Story plus others), and CMMI work item types (Requirement plus others).

As work progresses, team members can update the state and reassign it as needed. While the workflow states differ for different work item types, they usually follow a progression from New or Active to Completed or Done. The following image shows the work flow states for a product backlog item. If you want to discard a work item, change the state to Removed.

Typical workflow progression:

  • Create a product backlog item in the default state, New.

  • Change the state from New to Approved.

  • Change the state from Approved to Committed.

  • Change the state from Committed to Done.

Atypical transitions:

  • Change the state from New to Removed.

  • Change the state from Removed to New.

  • Change the state from Approved to Removed.

  • Change the state from Committed to Approved.

  • Change the state from Done to Committed.

Product backlog item workflow, Scrum process

Removed work items remain in the data store and can be reactivated by changing the State.

With each update, changes are recorded in the History field which you can view through the History tab.

View change history

To find work items based on their history, see Query for work items using the History field.

By linking work items using Related or Dependent link types, you can track work that is dependent on other work. Each work item contains one or more tabs with link controls. These controls support linking the work item to one or more objects.

Link control tab from the web portal

Link controls in Visual Studio Online and TWA

Some work item types have two or more link control tabs. Each tab is designed to support specific types of links and restricts the types of link relationships made. To learn more, see Manage dependencies, link work items to support traceability.

Team Foundation version control (TFVC) lets you link work items to version control changesets or versioned source code files by using the Changeset and Versioned Item link types. When you check in pending changes or use My Work to check in changes, work items are automatically linked to your changes.

Git lets you link work items to commits by using the Commit link type. To learn how, see Manage and commit your changes.

A: Yes. With an on-premises TFS you can add fields, change the workflow, and customize the form. You can also add work item types. To learn more, see Customize work tracking objects to support your team's processes.

A: The quickest way to plan your project is to create your backlog. If you have a number of product backlog items, user stories, requirements, or tasks that you want to bulk add, you can use Excel or Project.

If you are planning a product suite and managing a portfolio of projects across several teams, you’ll want to read (New) Manage work across the enterprise.

A: Type an ID in the Search work items box and then choose the search icon.

Seach work items text box

Or, using the Context Menu Icon context menu, add filters to find items based on assignment, status, a keyword, or a work item type. For example, enter A=@Me T=Task to list all tasks assigned to you. Use the =, :, and operators to specify the operations: Equals, Contains, and Not, respectively.

Once you have a results list, you can modify the filter criteria to refine your search results.

A: From the web portal, simply copy the URL from the web browser address or open the context menu for the work item ID hyperlink and choose Copy shortcut. In Visual Studio, right-click the work item tab to copy the URL. The URL opens the work item in the web portal.

Email a hyperlink for a work item

A: In addition to the web portal, you can connect to TFS from Visual Studio, Eclipse, plus other clients. See Choose the Team Foundation client to support your tasks.

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