Background: I have worked with many scrum teams over the past 5 years using Atlassian JIRA. I changed companies and they are using TFS 2015.

Issue: Using JIRA there was one scrum board per team and that all roles on the scrum team use the scrum board to understand where stories are in the process during the sprint. It gave the QA member information around when a story was ready for testing, it gave DevOps information about when an item could be deployed, etc. etc.. In TFS 2015 the scrum board is fixed based on the BPI (or User Story depending on the Process Template you are using). It seems that during a sprint team members have to view both the BPI/UserStory board and the sprint board to get the full picture of what is happing with a BPI/Story in context of the sprint.

I don’t mind and kind of like the separation of concerns around the fact that epics, features, BPI/Stories have their own boards. This is great for the PO to track their process in preparing work for the team. What is frustrating to me is it seems that it would be better to allow the scrum team to define their scrum board to map to their process separate from what the product owner is doing on the BPI/Story board.

With this new job I am getting back into the Microsoft stack (I left it for ~5-6 years for the JBOSS/Tomcat/Apache/Linux stack). It seems to me Microsoft is being heavy-handed forcing development teams to do it the way they think it should be done versus giving the teams the flexibility to find what works for them. A lot of things about Microsoft gives me that impression and, for me, it is hard to swallow.

Is there a way to customize the sprint board (I have not found a way via the web interface)? Maybe the process template XML? Does anyone else feel this way? Am I thinking about this wrong?

  • Are you using an on prem installation or the cloud hosted version? You can (very limitedly IMO) modify the board in the cloud hosted version. I don't know about on prem. Can you better explain exactly how you'd like to set up your board?
    – RubberDuck
    Sep 1, 2016 at 9:21
  • I would like to have To Do, In Progress (doing/done split), In Testing/Validation (split), Review, Done columns on the task board. We get that information from the PBI board but it would be nice to have the team work off of the task board with the logical process steps. I have talked with other teams that are in the company and what they do is they create development, test/validation, and UAT (review) task per PBI. While this works, I feel like it is overhead created by the fact that you can drag a story/task across the board with that same breakdown.
    – mrklewis
    Sep 1, 2016 at 15:09
  • you can split columns for the cloud hosted version. That's nearly precisely how we have our board set up. Are you using VSO?
    – RubberDuck
    Sep 1, 2016 at 15:44

2 Answers 2


More of an alternative than a direct answer, but - does your whole Team all work in the same place? (And if not, is it possible to change it so they do? The Team really should, ideally, be co-located.)

If so, you could always just use an actual board, with sticky-notes for the stories (might consider also using tacks to make sure they stay on - just in case). If you need to split the stories in the backlog based on functional areas or some other criteria, you can simply use differently-coloured sticky notes, or place actual stickers upon or otherwise mark the notes.

If you do that, you can organize it however you want and Microsoft won't be able to do anything to stop you.

  • I had considered this as we are co-located, it is a good suggestion no doubt. The issue is, there are no shared spaces where a board would work. It's either a cube, small manager offices, and shared conference rooms. The other thing is TFS allows us to split the backlog up over functional areas so that the business users can see and edit their part of the backlog without being able to see or impact other areas PBIs. The team services 5 functional areas in the business.
    – mrklewis
    Sep 1, 2016 at 15:13

As far as I know you can't update the columns on the task board. Just the Product Backlog board. The link below has a part where it mentions what customization you can do but it never mentions updating columns on the task board. I'm not sure if this helps. But in the past with my teams we have actually managed out work in the product backlog board as you can see all the linked tasks in the drop down on the work item. Then we would just use that board to show what state it was in for your purposes. Could be the wrong way of doing things but that is just how we did it. Also would like to note that I've really only worked with the On Prem version not nearly as much in VSO.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.