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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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