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Understanding the Program Board Layout and Indicators

The Program Board summarizes cross-team feature level dependencies through your iterations/sprints so you can identify and focus on the cross-team communications that matter most.  You can use this board to verify your planning sessions and to track the delivery progress throughout the program increment/release.


Accessing the Program Board

  1. Select Release > Tracking > Program Board.

  2. Select a project from the Project Navigator.

The selected project or program must have a Start Date, an End Date and a single Schedule.

See Using the Program Board for instructions on how to add portfolio items and how to access related reports.

Program Board Layout

The following table describes the Program Board layout.




Represents the team that owns the project/program work.


Represents a sprint/iteration with begin or end dates in the defined range.

Unplanned column

Shows work that has not yet been planned.

  • A portfolio item in this column indicates that no stories/backlog Items assigned to the team have been planned into a sprint/iteration

  • An upstream dependency story/backlog item in this column indicates that it has not been planned into a sprint/iteration.  

Out Of Scope column

Shows work intended to be delivered, but not a part of the selected project or program. 

  • A portfolio item in this column indicates that some of the work in the portfolio item is not in scope.

  • An upstream dependency backlog Item in this column indicates that the required backlog item is not being considered for delivery in the selected project or program. 

Program Board Cards

The following table describes the cards visible on the Program Board. 



Portfolio Item Cards

  • Portfolio Items, regardless of type, in the selected Project or Program that do not have a parent Portfolio Item in the selected Project or Program.  These are also referred to as Tracked Portfolio Items.  They are the same Portfolio Items you see on the Kanban Board and at the top level on the Portfolio Tree .

  • Portfolio item cards display in the last sprint/iteration a team has work planned. 

  • If multiple teams are working on the same portfolio item, the card displays on the board multiple times; once for each team delivering work.  

  • The Portfolio Item type is indicated by the colored bar on the left side of the card. 

  • If a team has planned and unplanned work in a portfolio item, a yellow "U" icon displays. This indicates that the portfolio item may not be delivered in the sprint/iteration where the card appears.

  • Until the portfolio item is delivered, a percent complete indicator displays in the top right corner of the card.  This measure is determined by count or total estimate based on your tracking preferences.

  • Progress is indicated with card shading. As work is delivered, the portfolio item card will be shaded darker from left to right.

Upstream Dependency Backlog Items (also known as Provider or Source Backlog Items)

  • Upstream Dependency Backlog Items display in the sprint/iteration the team intends to complete the work. These items must be completed before the team can complete their work.

  • Upstream Dependency Backlog Items display only when the dependencies are being satisfied by another team. If a single team owns all the dependencies, they do not display on the Program Board.

  • A red line connects Upstream Dependency Backlog Items to the portfolio items they impact. 

For more details, refer to The Red Lines Connecting Cards below

The Red Lines Connecting Cards

Ideally, there are no dependencies and, if when they exist, they are all completed by the same team. However, this is not always the case. When a story/backlog item requires input from another team, the Program Board displays the upstream dependency backlog Item (or the source) in the sprint/iteration connected to the portfolio item with a red line. If there are additional upstream dependencies from other teams, those are also visible and connected with a red line.

The red arrow on the dependency line indicates the direction of flow.  The arrow always points from the upstream item (Source or Provider) to the downstream item (dependent or consumer) Ideally, you want to see these arrows pointing from right ( -> ) across iteration boundaries.   An arrow pointing left (<-), indicates that the upstream dependency (source) has been planned after the downstream dependent (consumer).  This is a problem that needs to be addressed.  An arrow pointing up or down to another item in the same iteration, indicates that both the upstream dependency and the downstream dependent are being completed in the same iteration.  This situation requires that all teams involved need to coordinate even more closely to make sure both items are completed.

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