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A Nightmare on Backlog Street


We all know planning is a fundamental requirement for JIRA teams, and whether the methodology is Scrum, Kanban or Waterfall, the backlog is the core asset for this activity.  We also know that properly ordering and grooming the (usually huge) backlog of issues is a vital, but extremely time consuming task.

For Scrum teams, JIRA natively offers backlog management in the form of a ranked list of issues, with a mechanism for handling the sprint along with some basic filtering to refine the backlog issues.

The nightmare: 3451 issues!

As for those teams using Kanban, the backlog feature (still in beta for JIRA Software Labs) is also displayed in the form of a ranked list of issues.  In this format however, there is an additional „In Progress“ column (or a column of your choice) on top to help users limit the size of their Kanban board.  This method also provides basic quick filters to further refine the backlog.

Both options are great and let you directly manage the issues in the backlog to plan your sprints (or the first column in your Kanban board)… as long as your dealing with a relatively small number of issues.

The reality however is that teams are often dealing with hundreds, even thousands of issues at once. So, the backlog turns in to a horror movie, with product owners and project managers too scared to watch. Canvas for JIRA offers an alternative, flexible approach which may not be a love story, but your teams are sure to love it: the Plan Mode.

Plan Mode

The Plan Mode structures boards in two parts: The Backlog (left area) and the Planner (right area). Issue cards can be moved easily in a natural way from left to right as they’re added to the Planner.



The Backlog area offers a mechanism to easily order and groom your overall backlog. Thus, the issues in this area have not yet been added to any sprint, component or release (this option depends on the dimension selected in the planner). You can choose just a single custom field to define the columns, or add a second custom field to display rows (i.e., swim lanes). Not only that, you can apply JQL or use our Quick Filters to reduce the backlog to just the important issues.



So what can you do with it?:

  • Display just your current work and filter out distractions
  • Work with a dedicated board based on the fields important to you, not just a pre-defined, restrictive layout
  • Organize your issues directly in to sprints, epics or releases from a single screen


The planning function is the feature you’ve been waiting for to help you escape the usual nightmare of backlog grooming in JIRA. This third dimension enables you to quickly (and painlessly) plan your sprints, releases or components.

If you work with sprints, open the „Sprints“ as the third dimension and create boards that really fit your team mindset. What about having a board with Story Points and Components to plan the next sprint? In addition, you don’t need to navigate to other screens: create, edit, start, complete or delete your sprints directly in the planner.


But what if your team doesn’t work with the traditional Sprint model? No problem, you can plan based on components or releases, and still take advantage of a customizable backlog.


Check out our Plan Mode documentation for further info, and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Confluence & JIRA Community Day

24. Oktober 2016

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