Agility Portfolio Items, Backlog Groups, and Goals/Objectives explained

This feature is available in Enterprise and Ultimate editions


What is the difference between Portfolio Items, Backlog Groups, and Goals/Objectives?


Portfolio Items, Backlog Groups, and Backlog Goals all represent different ways to group stories/backlog items and defects. In that way, they are similar but have key differences that make them more appropriate to represent different aspects of your project.

  • Portfolio Items
    Large-grained features that are broken down into smaller components for individual estimation and scheduling.
  • Backlog Groups
    Functional areas of the system. Think of them as the segments you would use to describe your system's functionality.
  • Backlog Goals/Objectives
    Measurable targets that can have a many-to-many relationship with backlog.

Portfolio Items

A Portfolio Item is a large-grained feature that is broken down into smaller components for individual estimation and scheduling. This sequence may occur multiple times as these components can be broken down into even smaller components. These are items that get scheduled, worked on, and then completed.

Use portfolio items to capture and define big features that are eventually decomposed as a natural part of the planning process. Portfolio Items are most appropriate for those items that you might want to schedule as an individual feature, but end up being too large for planning purposes. A workitem can belong to only one portfolio item, but can be in any Project in the hierarchy. Portfolio Items can be organized into a hierarchy of multiple levels, and can be composed of a mix of stories and defects.

Examples of portfolio items:

  • Product Search
    • Simple Search
    • Advanced Search
      • Search by location
      • Search by fuzzy name match
      • Search by multiple fields
  • Warehouse System Integration
    • Inventory Management Integration
    • Shipping Integration
    • Receiving Integration

The key difference between a portfolio item and a Backlog Group is that you can put a status on a portfolio item and track its delivery progress on a board, much like you can have a status on a workitem. Also, portfolio items are more of a finite amount of work, while Backlog Groups are more enduring classifications of functionality. See Portfolio Items to learn more.

Backlog Groups

A Backlog Group is a functional area of the system. Use backlog groups to organize your backlog by major components or functional area. Backlog Groups allow you to view plans and progress by functional area. Backlog Groups are used as filters in the planning process as well as in some reports, allowing you to focus on a subset of your backlog. They are most appropriate to use for items which are ongoing parts of the system. A workitem can belong to only one backlog group, and can also be in any project in the hierarchy. Backlog Groups can be organized into a hierarchy of multiple levels, though a simple flat structure is often most effective.

Examples of Backlog Groups:

  • Administration
  • Product Owner Management
  • Reporting


Objectives are measurable strategic targets. Use objectives to align project work with strategic objectives of the organization, then keep an eye on allocation and progress against those backlog goals within one or more projects. A feature can be assigned to more than one backlog goal that it helps to support.

Note: The Objectives feature can be disabled if not needed.

Examples of objectives:

  • Enter a new vertical market
  • Reduce operating costs by 10%
  • Integrate inventory management with our 3 leading vendors
  • Capture 40% of the Asian market


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