TFS/Agile PM: Configuring so your tasks are estimated in story points

TFS/Agile PM: Configuring so your tasks are estimated in story points

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I’ve had a few people ask: “What if I estimate my tasks in something other than hours, like ideal days or story points?”

The truth of the matter is, the “Remaining Work” field on the Task work item is just a dumb integer. You can enter anything you like in it. The only thing that even references what unit it might be in is the little “h” that appears on the task board and on the capacity pane.




If you are installing TFS 2012 on-premise, this little “h” is configurable to be whatever you want. (Unfortunately, it is not configurable for … yet)

Here’s how:

Step 1: Export the configuration settings to an XML file.

cd C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 11.0\Common7\IDE

witadmin.exe exportcommonprocessconfig /collection:http://SERVERNAME:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection
                 /p:PROJECTNAME  /f:.\CommonConfig.xml

Step 2: Edit the XML file to change your “Remaining Work” suffix.

Locate this line in the XML file:

    <TypeField refname="Microsoft.VSTS.Scheduling.RemainingWork" type="RemainingWork" format="{0} h" />

Edit the highlighted part to be whatever you want. For example, if you estimate in story points, you can change it to “{0} sp”.

Step 3: Import the configurable settings from the XML file

witadmin.exe importcommonprocessconfig /collection:http://SERVERNAME:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection
                    /p:PROJECTNAME  /f:.\CommonConfig.xml


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  • You can also use TFS Team Project Manager ( to configure this Common Configuration file interactively without using any command line tools. And it does a whole lot more for TFS administrators :-)

  • That's great, but what about all the other places? In particular the task form has a heading "EFFORT (HOURS)". That needs to be changed to "EFFORT (POINTS)". How can that be changed?

  • Also, how can this be set as a default for all projects? No one wants to do this each time a new project is created. What a pain.

  • @Dominic, that is possible by editing the work item form layout.

    Here is a document to get you started:

  • I just got back from scrum training, and the latest trend is to not estimate hours on tasks at all. Instead, we should use story points on the PBI only.

    So, now the problem is that the "integer" on the PBI is a sum of all the tasks.  I want to be able to set the integer on the PBI, instead using the tasks.

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