Link work items to builds and deployments in Azure Boards

Azure DevOps Services | Azure DevOps Server 2022 | Azure DevOps Server 2020

One of the main ways Azure DevOps supports traceability is by linking objects. Work items link to Git branches, commits, pull requests, builds, and more. Work item forms provide two controls to show and quickly navigate to development objects. The Deployment control is described in this article, and the Development control is described in Drive Git development from a work item.

With the Deployment control, you can determine at a glance whether a feature or user story has been deployed and to what stage. You gain visual insight into the status of a work item as it is deployed to different release environments and quick navigation to each release stage and run.


The Deployment control requires configuration of a Classic release pipeline. It doesn't support linking to release stages defined for a YAML pipeline.

As shown in the following image, the Deployment control shows release information for two release stages those work items that have been linked to a Git commit or pull request for a release pipeline configured to integrate with Azure Boards.

Screenshot of Work item form, Deployment control.

How linking is supported

Work items linked to a Git repository branch, commit, or pull request participate in populating the Deployment control.
You can view all links through the work item form Links tab.

  • Work items associated with commits in the build will show the status of the release
  • Only work items co-located with the same project where the release pipeline is defined are linked to.

Conceptual image of Git and integrated link types.

To learn how to associate work items to commits, see Drive Git development from a work item or Link to work items from other objects. To view objects linked to a work item, see View list of links for a work item.


  • To configure the integration options for a Classic release pipeline, you must have permissions to edit the release.
  • To link work items to commits and pull requests, you must have your Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow for the Area Path assigned to the work item. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set.
  • To view work items, you must have your View work items in this node permissions set to Allow for the Area Path assigned to the work item.

To populate the Deployment control, complete the following steps:

  1. Define a Classic release pipeline and set up the release stages as described in Define your multi-stage continuous deployment (CD) pipeline.
  2. Configure the pipeline as described in Configure pipelines to support work tracking, Report deployment status to Boards.
  3. Link work items to a commit or pull request in Azure Repos Git repository. For details, see:
  4. Run the pipeline.

Deployment control and work item types

By default, the Deployment control appears on the work item forms for User Story (Agile), Product Backlog Item (Scrum), Issue (Basic), Requirement (CMMI), Feature, Epic, Bug, Task, and Test Case work item types. It's automatically enabled for custom work item types you define using the Inherited process. If you don't use the control, you can choose to Hide from layout.

If your project is customized using a Hosted XML process or you need to add it to a custom work item type for an On-premises XML process, you'll need to update your work item type definitions to display the control. For details, see Hosted XML process model, Add release deployment support to a work item type.

Deployment control

The work item deployment control displays the status of releases within those work items that are associated with commits in the build and those release pipelines you've configured to report deployment information to Azure Boards.

The following example shows multiple environments that the release is targeting which the selected work item is associated with.

Example showing multiple environments that the release is targeting.

When you open the work item, you can see the stages the release is being deployed, in real time.

Release Settings Stages

To view and navigate to the builds and releases linked to a work item, choose the Links tab. Links are grouped under their link type and listed in the order they were created. Choose the State or Latest Update column headings to sort by the column. Links prefaced with the red exclamation mark indicate that the build, release, or other object has been deleted. This indicator occurs because of retention policies, which automatically delete these objects after a certain time period has passed.

Screenshot of Links tab, Integrated in build and Integrated in release stage.

Once a work item is linked to a commit or pull request, it will continue to show up as part of the release stages. For example, if you have a work item that didn't pass testing criteria, you may want to remove it from the builds and releases.

To remove the work item from participating in future builds and releases, delete the link to the most recent commit and pull request. You can do that by opening the Links tab for the work item as shown in the previous section.

Query for linked work items

You can't query for work items that are included in releases. However, you can create a query for work items with an External Link Count > 0. Include other query filters to optimize your search criteria.

Azure Repos, Git

Azure Pipelines

Link work items

Process customization