Planning and Prioritizing Work Items

After reviewing the previous sections, you should now have enough background to handle two of the main tasks that need to be performed before your team can begin executing a Plan: populating the Plan with Work Items to be processed, and prioritizing the Work Items of the Plan after they have been added. Let's look at these activities in detail.

Planning Work Items

After creating a new Plan and setting its properties, you need to decide which Work Items the team will process and complete during the period of the Plan, and "add" those Work Items to the Plan. We will refer to this activity as "planning Work Items". The main steps in the process are:

  1. Access the Plan via the Plans topic of Navigation.

  2. Invoke the Open In Table action to open the Plan in the table view, together with the Planning sidebar panel.

  3. Run one or more queries to locate the Work Items to be added to the Plan.

  4. Use control and widgets in the Work Items Table and the Planning Sidebar to "plan" Work Items by adding them to the Plan.

Preparing to Add Work Items

When you have opened a Plan and are ready to plan Work Items into it, you need to open the plan in the Work Items Table view. There, you can run queries to locate the Work Items for the Plan, select them, and add them to the Plan. You can also modify the Plan, removing previously planned items.

To open the current plan in the Table:

  1. If the Open in Table button appears in the Plan page, click it. This widget is provided by the underlying Plan Template, which could be a custom template that does not include this control.

  2. If the button is not present, click the Actions button in the Plan toolbar and choose Open in Table on the drop-down menu.

    A new browser tab opens, loading the Table view, creating and running a visual query element to retrieve the Work Items for the Plan, and opening the Planning sidebar panel. At this point you are ready to begin planning Work Items into the Plan.

Finding Work Items for the Plan

If no Work Items have been planned yet, the Table is empty. This is because of the visual query that is specified to retrieve the items in this Plan. You need to remove the query element and build a new query to retrieve all or some of the items you want to add to the Plan. (For information on Work Item queries, see the User Guide topic Searching Work Items.) You may find it easier to build several simple queries rather than a single complex one. Each query should show some Work Items in the table, and at least some of those should be items you want in the Plan. (If none of them are, you need to revise your query.)

You can use the visual query element Planned In to retrieve the Work Items that have been added (or NOT added) to one specific plan, aggregate the view with items from more than one plan. For more information on using the graphical Query Builder, see the User Guide topic Constructing Queries Graphically.

Adding Items to the Plan

Once the table contains items you want to be processed during the Plan period, you can easily add them to the plan:

  1. Select one or more items in the table by checking the box on the respective row(s).

  2. In the Planning sidebar, click the Add button, which should show a count of items selected for adding, OR...

    Drag a single or multiple selected items from the table to the Planning sidebar, OR...

  3. Click the icon on the table row of an item you want to add to the Plan.


  • When items are added to the Plan, the plan Statistics are updated immediately in the sidebar panel. If you added some items by mistake, or you change your mind after seeing the statistics, you can remove one or more items from the Plan by selecting them in the table and clicking the Remove button.

  • You can save the changes to the Plan any time during the planning process. Be sure to save changes when you are finished adding items to the plan.

  • You can review the Work Items in any Plan by selecting the Plan in the Planning sidebar and clicking the (Show Plan Work Items in table) icon.

  • You can return from the Table to the Plan by clicking on the Plan name in the Planning sidebar.

  • You can navigate a tree of open Plans, and jump into any listed Plan from the Open Plans section of the Planning sidebar.

  • When viewing an individual Work Item in the Work Item detail form, the Planned in field lists all Plans that include the item. The field is editable. You can remove a Plan from the field, which removes the item from the removed Plan. You can add another Plan to the field, which adds the current item to the selected Plan.

  • You can optionally add a column Planned In to the Work Items Table. The column shows all Plans to which a Work Items is added. Clicking on any listed Plan opens the Planning Sidebar and selects the Plan. Because it is multi-valued, the table cannot be sorted on this column.

You can also add Work Items to a Plan from the Document Editor. You need to manually open the Planning sidebar and select a Plan. Then click the icon in the Document margin beside any Work Item to add it to the Plan. Note that the type of Work Item must be a type that is allowed in the Plan by its properties. For example, if the Document contains Requirement items, but the Plan properties include only Change Request and Issue type items, you will not be able to add Requirement items to the Plan. You would first need to modify the Plan properties to include the Requirement type.

Prioritizing Planned Work Items

Setting priority values for Work Items in your Plan is optional. Assuming that you want to do it, you can use the same basic procedure as for prioritizing Work Items in general. Review the User Guide topic Prioritizing Work Items. The rest of this section will cover several issues that are specific to prioritizing the Work Items of a Plan.

Storing Priority Data

By default, Work Items are prioritized using the standard Priority field of Work Items. You should decide whether this meets your needs for prioritizing Work Items in a Plan. For example, you may find that the standard field is fine for setting priority for a Release Plan, but your developers need to set their own priority for an Iteration Plan. In this case, you might need to have your project administrator create a custom field for relevant Work Item types, with a name such as "Iteration Priority". (The field must be of type float.) This custom field should then be specified in the Prioritization Field property of the Iteration Plan(s).

Opening a Plan's Items for Prioritization

It is best if you have already added all the Work Items to the Plan that should be resolved during the Plan period. You can re-prioritize the items any time, however. Let's assume you have the Work Items already in the Plan and you are ready to prioritize them.

On the Plan toolbar, click Actions > Prioritize Plan. The Plan opens in the Work Items Table view, with the Prioritization sidebar open. All the Work Items currently added to the Plan are listed. If the plan spans multiple projects, the list includes items from the projects specified in the Plan Properties. The table of items is sorted top to bottom on the current value of the field specified as the Prioritization Field (see Storing Priority Data). You will be changing this value for some or all of the Work Items during prioritization.

With only the Plan's Work Items in the table, you can change their priority by drag-drop repositioning in the table, or any of the other ways described in the User Guide topic on Prioritizing Work Items. You can optionally modify the visual query as needed - to limit the items in the table to one type- Issues, for example.