Prevent reopening work item once closed | Azure DevOps (with Video)

Developer Support

Aditya Bajaj is an Operations Manager focusing on accessibility and web operations at Microsoft.

Controlling the process manually is challenging

Enforcing process is hard when there are many people within the team using task management tool like Azure DevOps. I have a process that once a work item is closed then it should not be reopened even if it was allowed in Azure DevOps. People tend to forget the process and in the sense of urgency and/or their convenience, they just override the protocols by doing what they want to. I don’t blame anyone. Thankfully, you can control the process of work items in Azure DevOps through setting a few rules for your work item types in Azure DevOps process settings. The tip below provides step-by-step guidance on how to lock or freeze closed work items using Rules in Azure DevOps settings to control your DevOps process. It uses a hack that is called out below.

Why prevent reopening a task after it’s closed

The short answer is to have a better control on processes and workflows. It also helps provide more accurate team utilization metrics using Azure DevOps for reporting on or analyzing operations. For example, let’s say that a task is submitted to update a page’s content and once all of that is processed and the task status is set to closed, task requestor may reuse the same task to carry out further updates. Using the same task item for iterative updates can incorrectly reflect either the time taken by resources to close the task or total number of tasks processed within a month by the team. Hence, a control through the system is needed.

Reopening a task from “Resolved” (vs. Closed) state is still often allowed but after a no response for a set time like 24 or 48 hours (varies by teams and organizations), tasks are typically closed and should be locked. Freezing a task from reopening, once its status is set to “Closed”, enforces the users to submit a new work item for further updates instead of requesting the updates through the same closed task.

Explore the steps to lock work items in Azure DevOps once they are closed:


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  • Will Freeman 0

    This “hack” doesn’t work. The Read-Only rules apply before you can save a given task, invalidating the state change to Done.

    Therefore, by doing what you recommend here, no-one can close the tasks anymore.

  • Ahmad Mahdy 0

    Thank you for the hack. but what if I have this work item in my product deprecated or removed from the live product?
    Example: manual registration removed, and the registration is using social logins and LDAP- so the manual registration is completely removed. New story has been created for this new registration, what about the removed one? it is part of live product list ? it should updated with us for any future regression..etc.

    What do you think?

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