Creating iteration plans

You can create different types of plans for a project, depending on the template your project uses. For the Formal Project Management process, you can choose from the release plan and phase plan. For the Scrum process, you can choose from product backlog, release backlog, and sprint backlog. Both templates support creating a cross-project plan.

Before you begin

Before you create a plan, create a project area that contains at least one timeline and iteration. The process area (a team or project) that a plan is associated with must be associated to a work item category. You must have permission to create, save, and delete a plan. For more information about permissions, see Permissions and Modifying permissions.
Note: In the Scrum process template, a release plan is called a release backlog, and the iteration plan is called a sprint backlog. In the Formal Project Management template, the iteration plan is called a phase plan.


  1. From the menu, click Plans, and select a plan type to create.
    Note: If the Active Project Areas page is open from creating a project, click Explore Project (explore project) to open the Change and Configuration Management page.
  2. Type a plan name.
  3. Specify the owner by clicking Browse and selecting the project area or team area as the owner of the plan.
  4. Specify the iteration by clicking Browse and selecting the iteration.
    Tip: Select Exclude iterations not scheduled for a release to hide the iterations that are not planned for a release.
    This is the logic that governs what plan iterations are displayed:
    • The drop down shows all the root level iterations.
    • The drop down shows the current iterations and 3 future iterations if available.
    • The drop down shows the first sibling of all root iterations.
    • The drop down shows the backlog iteration.
    An iteration is displayed in the drop down under the following conditions:
    • When the iteration does not have a start and end date set.
    • When the start and end dates of the iteration include the current date, with a max limit of 5.
    • Recently used iterations.
    • The iteration is current or in the backlog.
    • The next two iterations after the current iteration or backlog are restricted to the iteration's siblings.
    • No iterations are shown if they don't have a release scheduled, unless they have a descendant that has a release scheduled, in which case the iteration itself is greyed out and non-selectable, and only the descendant is selectable.
  5. Optional: Change the plan type if needed.
  6. Optional: Select Fetch Children On Demand to load child plan items only when their parents are expanded.
  7. Optional: Select Include All Items to also display all items (both plan items and execution items) from child team areas and past iterations. If this option is not selected, only the plan items from current and future iterations in the project or team area are displayed.
    Important: If you mark an iteration as complete, all the previous iterations are marked as complete also. The query does not check the actual dates of individual work items to determine if they extend past the date of the end of the iteration. Therefore, when you open a previous iteration, no work items appear. To view all work items, click Always load all execution items in the plan page, and all the work items for that iteration appear. If this option is not selected, only the plan items from current and future iterations in the project or team area are displayed.
    Tip: Planning categorizes work item types as plan items and execution items. Plan items are high-level tasks, such as stories and epics. Execution items include specific work, such as tasks and defects. For more information, see Setting work item types as plan items.
  8. Click Save.
  9. You can limit the number of work items that display in a plan by using attribute values in expressions:
    1. In the Plan Scope field, choose an expression with type, state, or filedAgainst and use the syntax, attribute:value (for example, type:defect).
      Tip: The Plan Scope field has auto-complete capabilities, which ensures that typed expressions are correct and shows the scope of possible options.
      Important: The operators for the Plan Scope field are not the same as query-expression syntax; the only valid operators for the Plan Scope field are:
      • :
      • !
    2. To make a match exclusive, add an exclamation point (!) to the beginning of the expression (for example, !type:defect).
    3. Click Save.
    Note: By default, the Plan Scope feature is enabled. To disable it, set Enable Plan Scope Configuration to false on the Advanced Properties page.
  10. You can archive plans. Select your iteration plan, and selectEdit > Archive.
    • With open items: The parent item is in an active iteration: the archived iteration is not shown until parent item is expanded.
    • With no open items: The parent and child are in active iteration: the archived iteration is never shown.
    • With no items: The archived iteration is not shown.
    • With closed items but open children of non-archived iterations: If open children exist from non archived iterations: archived iteration is shown.
    • Archived iterations in the past: If the iteration has an end date that is in the past, then the iteration is visible in the plan even after being archived .
    • Archived iterations in the future: If the iteration that is set as current is archived, then the archived iteration is visible in the plan even if the end date is in past or future.
  11. Once you have created your plan, you can edit the taskboard plan view:
    1. In the View As field, select Taskboard. Click Edit Taskboard View Edit plan view. You can edit the name of the first column; the default is Plan Items:
      Edit first column name
  12. In a plan view, you can update the values of custom iteration attributes In the View As field, select Roadmap. Click Edit Roadmap View Edit plan view. You can edit individual fields: Click the drop-down beside the field that you want to edit, and you can select the value you want to display, or you can Browse to find the value you want to display:
    Update custom interation values

    You can also browse for more options when you update the Planned For column in the plan view

    Browse for value


  • After you have created the plan, in the Plan Details area, you can view and edit plan attributes, such as the owner, iteration, or plan type.
  • When you leave your plan and then later come back to the Plans menu item, note that the plan you were working on is listed on the right panel of the Plans drop down. This panel contains up to 10 of your recently viewed plans. Click on the plan that you want to open.
  • You can export the plan to a comma-separated values (CSV) file. For more information about exporting iterations plans, see: Exporting plans in a .csv file

What to do next

Tip: You can delete plans by clicking Plans > All Plans. Then, click the Delete icon (Delete) in the Actions column of the plan. To find a plan, type the plan name into the search field.

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