Build Your Backlog

The Backlog page is an inventory of all work items (user stories and defects) created in your project. This view provides a summary listing of all work items represented in Rally and is the gateway to viewing individual work item details and their associations. The product owner manages the backlog.

A user story is a statement of user functionality formulated as a few sentences in the everyday language of the user that can be completed within an iteration. The user story represents a placeholder for a later conversation regarding details and acceptance criteria. An agile workspace references work items.

Building the backlog consists of the following:


Watch the video below to see an overview of actions you can take on the Backlog page, learn about some best practices and advanced tips, and access a list of frequently asked questions:

Build Your Backlog
6 min

Create backlog items

You can add a new user story or defect to the backlog page. You can add a work item with detail, or you can put in a minimum amount of information and add more later.

By default, the backlog page is sorted in descending rank order. Any item entered using the box at the top or bottom of the page adds your new item to the bottom of the backlog page as the lowest rank.

To add items from the top of the page:

  1. Click the +Add New button at top of the page. The following options display:
  2. add to backlog
  3. Click the drop-down arrow to select the item type to add to your backlog.
  4. Enter the name of the new work item.
  5. Do one of the following:
    • Click Add to add the work item to the backlog with only the name defined.
    • Click Add with Details to launch the full work item editor page.

      Your new backlog item is added to the bottom of the page indicating it has the lowest rank.

  6. Note: Use the flair that appears at the top of the page to move the new backlog item to the top of the page.

To import stories:

  1. Select Page Tools in the upper-right corner of the backlog page.
  2. Click Import User Stories.

Note: Verify your CSV file is correctly formatted by downloading and using the Data Import Template. The header columns in these templates must be exactly reproduced in your CSV file for successful import. Each template can be modified for your import.

Concurrency conflicts may occur if multiple users edit the same work item. The first user to make their changes and click the Save & Close, Save & New, or Save buttons will have their changes committed. When subsequent users make their changes to the same work item then attempts to save, they are presented with an option to Review my changes or Overwrite with my version.


If you select Review my changes, you are returned to the work item editor so the changes can be copied and not lost. If you select Overwrite with my version, your changes are saved and the other users changes are overwritten. Overwrite with my version where attachments are added and edited will save both users' changes as well as apply deletions.

Edit backlog items

You can edit any work item on the Backlog page in-place, or you can launch the full editor.

To edit in-place:

  1. Double-click in any field in the selected row to edit that field.
  2. While using in-place edit mode, you can:
    • Use your tab key to move from to move from field to field.
    • The up and down keyboard arrows move you to the same field on the row above or below your current one.
  3. Press Esc to cancel any in-place field edit.
  4. Press Enter or click another field to save your changes.

To use the full editor, click the gear menu and select Edit...

Gear menu

To enter bulk edit mode:

  1. Select more than one work item by placing a check mark in the check box next on each row. The gear menu will switch to bulk edit mode bulk icon.
  2. Click the bulk edit mode gear menu and select Edit...
  3. bulk edit
  4. Choose the field that you want to edit and enter or select a new value.
  5. Click Apply to edit the selected work items.

To delete backlog items:

  • From the Backlog page, click the gear icon next to the item you want to delete, and click Delete.
  • From the detail page of the work item, click Actions, then select Delete.

  • Any field that displays "--" indicates the field cannot be edited. This is because there are various values depending upon the work item type.
  • Use the Esc key to deselect a row.
  • You can quickly edit multiple fields of the same type. Put your new value in and press the up or down arrow on your keyboard. This action saves your entry and selects the next row, same field, for edit.
  • You can use supported HTML tags to highlight various rows on the page.

Prioritize the backlog

Prioritizing means keeping the backlog in an order of importance. The product owner continuously tends the backlog as customer needs shift in importance. This activity is also referred to as ranking the backlog.

See Prioritizing the Backlog in Learn Agile for more information.

Drag-and-drop ranking is the rank method used in your backlog. Drag-and-drop ranking uses position to establish the relative priority order of a work item. With drag-and-drop ranking, you may prioritize work items by dragging them up or down in priority relative to other work items on the page.

To use drag-and-drop:

  1. Click the icon next to the work item you want to rank and drag it up or down on the page with respect to its siblings.

    The work item is outlined with a solid black border. A red line indicates the new position that the work item will occupy when the item is dropped.

  2. Release the mouse button to drop the work item at its new position on the page.

Drag-and-drop ranking

To move a work item to a specific position, click the gear icon next to the work item and select one of the following

  • Move to Top
  • Move to Bottom
  • Move to Position
Tip Description
New work items

Newly-created work items are positioned by default at the bottom of the page. Click Move to Top on the flare message that displays when you create a new work item on the Backlog page.

Page ranking If you have several pages worth of data on a particular tab (such as 200+ items in your backlog) and you use drag-and-drop to re-rank on the first page of the backlog it will have no impact on your second page of backlogged items.
Import/export If you attempt to export a view and re-rank your data outside of Rally, your export will reflect a page order. Upon importing the data, your new page order will be preserved; however, the imported work items will be appended to the end of the view. Existing work items are not overwritten, but instead are treated as new work items.


  • Keep the top part of your backlog in rank order for your next iteration planning meeting
  • Some teams create empty user stories for a horizontal line to break up the backlog into potential iteration segments.
    bulk edit
  • Keep your page sorted by rank. If the backlog not sorted by rank, you will not see drag and drop handles.

Customize your backlog

There are multiple ways that you can arrange or customize your backlog page to make management of your backlog items easy. You can:

  • Add columns: Click the Columns link and select any column headings to add (including your own custom fields). Click Apply.
  • Reorder columns: Drag and drop any column header to a new location.
  • Sort by column: Click the column header to sort in ascending or descending order.
  • Resize columns: Drag any column edge to resize it.
  • Pagination: Set your pagination options to display a specific number per page (up to 200), or use the standard Previous, Next, and other commands.
  • Filter: Select specific values from the column drop-downs to filter your backlog's view.

Some columns cannot be sorted and are disabled because of variable values by work item type.

Print your backlog

Once you have prioritized and customized your backlog, you may find it helpful to print it.

  1. From the Backlog page, select the Page Tools drop-down in the upper-right corner, then select Print.
  2. On the Print pop-up, specify the following:
    • Format: Summary or Details
    • Title
    • Subtitle (optional)
  3. Click Print.

View status columns

Task Status

You may add the task status column to your Backlog page display to see the state of tasks associated to your user story or defect. When displayed, the column will have a colored icon indicating the status of the associated items.

Note: These columns are also available inside of Custom Grid apps.

Icon Status
Dotted icon No tasks associated to the work item
Grey fill icon Tasks associated to the work item, all have a state of Defined
In Progress icon Tasks associated to the work item, at least one has a state of In Progress, none are blocked
Task Blocked icon Tasks associated to the work item, at least one is Blocked
Green check icon Tasks associated to the work item, all have a state of Completed, none are blocked

Defect Status

The Defect Status column is only applicable to user stories on the Backlog page.

Icon Status
Dotted icon No defects associated to the user story
Red bug icon Defects associated to the user story, at least one does not have a state of Closed
Green check icon Defects associated to the user story, all have a state of Closed


Click a status icon to view a pop-up with detailed information on the discussions associated with the work item and add new comments without leaving the page. Use the Reply button to add a new comment. You may delete your old or erroneous comments by clicking the trashcan icon. Administrators may delete comments made by any user.

Icon Status
Dotted icon No comments exist on the work item.
Comments exist on the work item. The number next to the icon represents the total number of comments.

Work item fields

These field values can be set when creating or editing a work item.

Field Description
ID A system-generated ID is assigned to your work item. It is unique and will never change. The ID consists of a tag prefix and a numerical value. The tag can be customized by your system administrator to reflect a differentiating prefix for each work item defined in your project.
Name The work item name allows you to easily reference a work item. The red highlight indicates it is a required entry field.
Tags Tagging provides all team members the ability to logically group and filter user stories, defects, and tasks.
Description A Rich Text Format field for the description of your work item. Capture a brief description of your work item here. Enter any text in the description that will help all team members clearly understand the intent of the work item.
You can copy and paste images in this field.
Attachments Browse for a file to attach to your work item details.
Owner Specify the owner of the work item.
Parent If the story is a child of another user story, a link to the parent story will display. Use the magnifying glass icon to set the story as a child, and select a parent.
Schedule State Indicates the progress that has been made toward the completion of the work item. There are six states that can be set from the drop-down list. The first and last states can be customized by your subscription administrator to help you better manage your process. The following identifies the default states that the work item can move through:
  • Defined: The work item is elaborated enough that the development team can write tasks and provide estimates. This is the defaulted state value for a new work item and cannot be customized.
  • In Progress: The work item has been committed to an iteration and work has begun on the work item. This state can not be customized.
  • Completed: All related tasks/work items have been completed. This state can not be customized.
  • Accepted: All acceptance criteria for the work item has been met. This state can not be customized.
Blocked Indicates that work on any or all of the related tasks for the work item can not continue until all issues preventing further progress are removed. If any related task has been marked blocked, this field will automatically be checked in the editor. You can also manually block the work item by editing it and activating the checkbox. The blocked state will appear in the Iteration Task Status view in red to indicate blocked, but will still carry the associated state letter so the initial state of the work item is not lost.
Ready This checkbox can be used to indicate that a work item is ready to move into the next stage of development or review. When using board apps such as the Iteration Tracking Board, the work item will display with a green border in the app. You may set up notifications against the Ready field to be alerted when the field is checked.
Blocked Reason Use this field to notate why the work item is currently blocked.
Iteration Indicates the iteration to which the work item is assigned. Select an iteration by clicking the downward arrow to the right of the respective field. A drop-down list of all available iterations contained in the project displays.
Plan Estimate Use this field to record how much effort is estimated to complete the work item. This field is a real number and can accept three digits followed by a decimal and two more digits. The units are defined by your administrator.
Task Estimate and To Do Read-only fields. The values contained in these fields are rolled up from all associated tasks and displayed in the work item.