Choosing the Right Process for Azure DevOps Boards (2024)

In the realm of project management, selecting the appropriate process for Azure DevOps Boards is pivotal. Your choice will not only shape the workflow but also significantly influence the success of your project. This article delves into the various processes available within Azure Boards and offers guidance on making the right selection for your project. So, let's dive right in!

Understanding Process Model

Before we proceed to choose a process, it's crucial to grasp the concept of a process model. This term refers to the model used to support projects created within an organization or project collection. Importantly, each project can have only one process model at a time. The selection of the process model hinges on your organization's unique requirements.

Exploring Process vs. Process Template

In Azure DevOps, two key concepts are central to defining your project's structure: Process and Process Template.

  • Process: This defines the fundamental building blocks of the work item tracking system and supports the Inheritance process model for Azure Boards. It allows for customization of projects through a user-friendly What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) interface.

  • Process Template: In contrast, a Process Template defines the building blocks of the work item tracking system and other subsystems accessible through Azure DevOps. Process templates are employed exclusively with the Hosted XML and On-premises XML process models, enabling project customization by modifying and importing process template XML definition files.

Default Processes

Azure Boards provides four default processes: Basic, Agile, Scrum, and CMMI. These processes cater to a spectrum of project management needs. Let's explore each in detail:


  • When to Choose: Opt for Basic when your team seeks a straightforward model utilizing Issues, Tasks, and Epics for work tracking. Tasks are designed to track Remaining Work.


  • When to Choose: Agile is your pick if your team follows Agile planning methods, including Scrum, and wishes to track development and test activities separately. Agile supports user stories and, optionally, bugs on the Kanban board, or bugs and tasks on the taskboard.


  • When to Choose: Scrum is the ideal choice when your team practices Scrum. This process excels in tracking product backlog items (PBIs) and bugs on the Kanban board. It also allows breaking down PBIs and bugs into tasks on the taskboard.


  • When to Choose: Opt for CMMI when your team adheres to more formal project methods that necessitate a framework for process improvement and an auditable record of decisions. With this process, you can track requirements, change requests, risks, and reviews.

Customization and Portfolio Backlogs

Should your team's requirements exceed the defaults, additional backlog levels can be added based on the process model you use:

  • Inheritance: Customize your backlogs or boards for a process.
  • Hosted XML or On-premises XML: Add portfolio backlogs.

Key Distinctions Among Default Processes

The default processes share many work item types (WITs) across them but exhibit variations in their workflow states and features. Here's a summary of the primary differences:

  • Workflow States: Each process has its unique set of workflow states, such as To Do, Doing, Done, and others.
  • Product Planning: The type of work items used for product planning varies across processes.
  • Task and Sprint Planning: Processes like Scrum and Agile offer distinct features for task and sprint planning.
  • Bug Backlog Management: Bug management differs in each process, accommodating the process's requirements.

Workflow States, Transitions, and Reasons

Workflow states play a crucial role in tracking the status of work items as they progress through the project. It's important to understand the transitions between states and the reasons for transitioning work items.

For Azure DevOps Services and Azure DevOps Server 2019, the default workflow transitions support any state to any state transition, although customization is possible. Utilizing State Model Visualization Marketplace extension can provide insights into supported workflow transitions for each work item type.

Managing Work Item States

When you alter the state of a work item to Closed, Done, or Removed, it affects where these items appear:

  • Closed/Done: Work items in this state do not show on portfolio backlog and backlog pages but are visible on the sprint backlog, Kanban board, and taskboard.
  • Removed: Work items in this state do not appear on any backlog or board.

It's important to note that completed or closed work items cease to display on backlogs and boards after a certain duration, typically 183 days or more.

Work Item Types Common to All Processes

Apart from the core work item types, Azure DevOps Boards adds certain work item types to all processes except the Basic process. These include Test Plan, Test Suite, Test Case, Feedback Request, Feedback Response, and others. These types are integrated into specific tools and serve various purposes.

In conclusion, choosing the right process for Azure DevOps Boards is a pivotal decision in project management. It influences the entire project's structure, workflow, and success. By understanding the available processes and their nuances, you can make an informed choice that best aligns with your team's requirements and project goals. Make your decision wisely, and watch your projects thrive with Azure DevOps!

Choosing the Right Process for Azure DevOps Boards (2024)


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