February 25, 2020 // By David Tannen
While the techniques included in this article are specifically for Azure DevOps, other Agile/Scrum tools provide similar capabilities. Jira, from Atlassian, has a number of plug ins which can help with dependency mapping.
For Process Best Practices see Managing Dependencies on a Scaled Agile team
Azure DevOps Implementation
Azure DevOps allows users to link two work items together. For dependency management it is best to use the Predecessor and/or Successor links.
How to create a Predecessor Link between two user stories
- The user story has been assigned to a specific team
- The user story has been assigned to a specific iteration
- The user story does not have any Related Links.
Note that both user stories have different Area Paths (Teams) and Iterations.
Click on the + Add Link down arrow (#3), which will show the following menu. Select Existing.
- Select the Link type
- Down Arrow shows link list
- Select Predecessor
- Either use the Work Item ID or search based on the title of the work item
- Select the appropriate work item from the list
- Click OK
The end result will show the new Predecessor link (see #3 above)
Useful Queries to Review Dependencies
User Stories Dependent on another Team's User Stories
- Type of Query - Work items and direct links
- Removed User Stories are ignored
- The team name (Area Path) and all items under the area path
- The team name (Area Path) is not included in the child portion of the query, which is why the Not Under option is used
- Filter on work items that match the links
- Return selected link types
- Set the link type to Successor
At the bottom is the end result of the query.
At the time when this article was published (01.27.2020), there are two Marketplace tools which can be used to visualize dependencies.
Work Item Visualization - This tool will show any link type between work items, including predecessor and successor links.
Dependency Tracker (Microsoft Extension) - This tool can provide a more comprehensive view of dependencies between teams and projects.
Consuming Dependencies shows work items that are producers (predecessors) and work items that are consumers (successors) and provide a visual chart concerning the state of all of the dependencies.
- Grey - Not started
- Blue - Active
- Green - Closed
- Dependency Tracker menu item
- Blue block is a work item that is currently in an active state
- Green block is a work item that is current closed
- This column shows the team that will consume the work item
- This column shows the team that will produce the work item