Do you know when you use @ mentions in a PBI?

Last updated by Tiago Araújo [SSW] 5 months ago.See history

When the Product Owner verbally requests a change to a PBI, how do you update the PBI to reflect the change and also keep track of the conversation?

You could send yourself a "To Myself" email and update the PBI description accordingly, but only those people included in the email chain are aware of the conversation. Only send a "To Myself" email when there is no Product Backlog that is related to the request, otherwise you should create or update a PBI and @mention the Product Owner and other relevant people (@mentioned people will still receive an email).

bad mention pbi
Figure: Bad example – Don't use emails to update tasks

Instead, what you should do is use the discussions feature in the PBI and mention the user using "@username".

The benefits of using descriptions and comments on PBIs:

  • Quick and easy, no need to compose an email
  • History is visible to anyone looking at the PBI (with email, if you don't cc them, they wouldn't have a clue)
  • Easy to see all important information in one place, instead of digging through email

When someone (especially the PO) asks you to work on a PBI, @mention that person in the PBI description/comments so they get notifications about the tasks.


You are replying to "Hey, can you please fix PBI 123?"

"I have found the PBI and moved it near the top of our backlog"

Bad example - No @mention used

"I have found the PBI, prioritized it near the top, and @mentioned you so you know when it is fixed"

Good example - @mention included

GitHub Issues

MicrosoftTeams image
Figure: Good example – Using @ mentions in GitHub

Tip: You can @mention on your pull requests as well.

Azure DevOps PBIs

To create a new PBI in your Azure DevOps project:

  1. Navigate to Boards | + New Work Item and select the type that best suits your item
  2. Enter your PBI title
  3. @ mention your desired user in the description

good mention pbi
Figure: Good example – Using @mentions in Azure DevOps discussion

pbi mention email
Figure: Good example – Email still gets sent to the users who are mentioned in the discussion, so they can still chime in if any details are incorrect

It is also good practise to use @mention in the discussion to track changes and request test pleases. Try formatting your mentions like an email to clarify both accountability and responsiblity and identify the current status of the project.

pbi formatting mentions
Figure: Good example – Using "Cc" and Greetings as you would in an email. Emojis are helpful too! 😊

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