Prioritizing the Backlog


Prioritizing the backlog allows the product owner to specify which work should (or must) be done next. The most important work always appears at the top of the list. There are two ways to set the priority:

  1. The priority fields of the individual work items (for example, the Priority field in stories and bugs).
  2. The Priority View of the backlog to order work.


Priority Fields

Each work item has one or more fields that are used to indicate the global priority. For example stories, bugs, issues and risks have a field called Priority. Stories also have a field called Priority Classification. The allowed values for these fields is dependant on the project template you are using, but in general they allow you to classify items as having the same relative priority. These fields are useful for minimizing the number of items you are working with at one time. In the Flat View you can sort or filter by these fields to reduce the amount of work you are estimating or maturing.

Backlog Flat Viewenlarge screenshot


Backlog Priorityenlarge screenshot

Backlog Priority Classenlarge screenshot 


Priority View 


This view allows a user to specify priority on a more granular level - one work item at a time, or a group of work items using multi-select (holding shift or control key down while selecting). This view sorts itself based on how the user has ordered the work being displayed. The work can be filtered using the same methods as other views using the filter panes to refine by iteration/area/status/tag or the column filtering options available in the individual columns of the grid. Grouping is not allowed in this view due to the custom sorting.


Backlog Priority Viewenlarge screenshot


After you have defined your working set by setting the desired filters, you can re-order work by dragging and dropping them relative to the other items in the grid. When a piece of work is placed above another, it is re-ordered with a higher priority. Moving a piece of work below another sets it to a lower priority. Groups of work items can be re-ordered by multi-selecting them and dragging the entire group. This ordering is saved to the database and is loaded each time you view the backlog in Priority View. New work is always added to the bottom in Priority View since it's order has not yet been determined. 
Backlog Drag and Dropenlarge screenshot


Another way to re-order the work is by using the sequencing buttons in the ribbon. When one or more items are selected in Priority View the ribbon changes to show new options, including the sequencing buttons. To change the sequence of the selected items, click Move Up, Move Down, Move to top or Move to bottom.

Backlog Sequenceenlarge screenshot