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The TFS 2010 Product Backlog Ecosystem

In Scrum for Team System 2.x Product Backlog Items (PBI’s) lived a simple life. They had an iteration path, an area path and were linked to Sprint Backlog Items (SBI’s). Confusingly, the more common terminology for SBI’s amongst non TFS users is Sprint Backlog Tasks – or SBT’s – which is why we’ve adopted this terminology for our Version 3.0 template for Visual Studio 2010.

To make life easier for people our Event Service did three things to the PBI:

  1. It added up all the outstanding hours remaining on linked Tasks and reflected this total on the PBI
  2. It synced up undone and linked SBI’s to have the same Iteration Path as their PBI “parent”
  3. It marked the PBI as done once all the Sprint Tasks linked to it also became done

But that was about it, and it looked like this:


The named linkages in TFS 2010 have enabled us to produce a far richer template. In this post I want to focus on the changes not to the PBI Work Item Type (WIT) itself, but rather the ecosystem it now lives in.

PBI’s are now linked bi-directionally to three WIT’s – Sprint Backlog Tasks, Acceptance Tests and Impediments.


And those WIT’s are linked back to that PBI, using a different link type.


If the reason for this isn’t clear at first, it will become so over the course of the next few posts.

The key thing to understand here is that we now leverage the Event Service and other TFS 2010 features to help you enforce Done on your projects (Why is that important? It’s a crucial part of successful Scrum, and one of Jeff Sutherland’s pillars of Hyper productive Scrum)

In 2.2/2008 a PBI was marked as Done when all the Sprint Tasks linked to it became Done. The hours remaining would also be zeroed out, because the Event Service also ensured that when a Sprint Task became Done, the hours were zeroed out. Handy.

This generally worked well, but wasn’t terribly “strict”, and some teams got themselves all tied into knots because they’d finish all their sprint tasks before they really were finished building the PBI.

In 3.0/2010 a PBI can only become Done once:

  1. All your Sprint Backlog Tasks are Done
  2. All your Acceptance Tests have passed
  3. All your linked Impediments are closed
Published Wednesday, November 11, 2009 3:50 PM by Anonymous

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Simon Bennett's Blog said:

  Next week I’m speaking on Scrum in the Enterprise and Process Customisation with Microsoft Visual

November 11, 2009 4:18 PM

Jon said:

Where can I download the 2010 template?

November 23, 2009 9:08 PM

Crispin Parker's Blog said:

This post relates to Scrum for Team System version 3. A recent comment revealed that there is some confusion

January 21, 2010 11:48 AM

Bibhakar Saran said:

That's good. Howver, it raises the quetion of whether these acceptance tests are the same one being used by the "Test Manager 2010". If not it will create a gap and manual work to synchronise the results and associated bug management activities.

April 14, 2010 5:52 AM

Anonymous said:

Hi Bibhakar,

Yes, they are the exact same ones as being used by MTM. It was about this time last year that Stu & I went over to Redmond to implement the design with what was then called Test & Lab Manager. Although we had to change the design a little (MTM isn't that customisable at all), the essence remains.

Our Bug Report type is also the same as the no-repro bug.


April 14, 2010 9:40 AM

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