Triaging work items

In some cases, the submitter of a work item contacts the developer who is responsible for the functional area and assigns the work item to that developer. However, the submitter can also leave the work item unassigned. In that case, a member of the team area that is associated with the work item category must triage the work item.

About this task

Triaging is the process of analyzing work items to add them to an iteration, assign ownership to them, and set their priority.


  1. Run a query that retrieves work items that are submitted but not assigned to a specific owner. In the Work Items view, double-click an entry in the results grid to open it.
  2. Verify that the project area, displayed in the Team Area field, is set correctly. If the work item belongs to a different project area, perform the next steps:
    1. Click the Move/Copy to different Project Area button.
      Note: To access attachments in a work item that is copied to a different project area, users must have permissions to access the project area that contains the source work item.
    2. In the Choose Target Project Area window, select the correct project area and specify that you want to copy the work item or move the work item to the selected project area.
      If you want to copy the work item, you can resolve the original work item as a duplicate. If you want to move the work item, you can specify that all attachments should be moved with it.
    3. Click Next.
      If there are any issues, such as attribute values that do not match between the source project area and the target project area, they are listed with the corresponding action that will be taken. For example, if the work item's Planned For value was set to 1.0 in the source project and the target project does not offer 1.0 as a Planned For value, then the Planned For attribute is set to a default value in the target project, and that field must be manually set after the work item is copied or moved.
    4. Click Finish.
  3. Verify that the Filed Against field is set correctly. If the work item belongs to a different category, change the value in the Filed Against field. If you are not a member of the team that is associated with the new category, click Save to save the change. Otherwise, continue.
  4. Click the Find Potential Duplicates icon to see whether another work item is submitted about the same issue. If a duplicate work item exists, click the Links tab of one of the work items. From the Add list in the Links section, select either Duplicate Of or Duplicated By, and find and link to the other work item. Set the state of one of the work items to Resolved, and set its resolution to Duplicate.
    Tip: For default workflows only, if you add a Duplicate Of link to a defect work item and save the work item, the state of that work item is changed to Resolved and its resolution is changed to Duplicate. If you add a Duplicated By link, the state and resolution fields of the target work item are changed to Resolved and Duplicated By, respectively.
  5. The Owned By list contains all members of the team area that is associated with the work item category. Select an owner from that list or click More at the bottom of the list to search for a member of another team.
  6. Optional: Select a priority level.
    The priority level identifies the importance of the work item from the perspective of the team that owns the work item.
  7. Optional: Set the value in the Planned For field to a planned iteration for resolving the work item, and enter a value in the Due Date field.
  8. To add a comment, in the Discussion section, click Add Comment, and enter your text.
  9. An approval is a request for other users to review, approve, or verify the work that is done to resolve the work item. To add an approval:
    1. Click the Approvals tab.
    2. Click New: Approval, select the type of approval, and specify the due date.
    3. Specify the user or users who are responsible to approve the resolution by clicking Add Approver. You might want to create different approval types for different users. For example, you might want to have a lead developer review the owner's proposed resolution, and a test engineer validate the delivered fix.

      You can also use approvals to remind team members to perform a common task. For example, you might create a work item for developers to update the copyright year in their files. Add each developer as an approver to the work item. When they finish changing their files, each developer changes the state for their approval to Approved.

  10. Click Save to save your changes.