Configuring estimation and tracking

The estimation statistic (e.g. story points, issue count, etc) and the time tracking settings (remaining time estimates) can be customized to suit how you estimate and track work in your project.

Many Scrum teams separate estimation (which is used for measuring the size of a backlog and calculating velocity) from tracking (which is often the burndown of hours used during the sprint to make sure that they are on track to complete the stories during the sprint period), and use different units for each. A common approach is to estimate tasks in story points, then track tasks using hours. Jira Software gives you the flexibility to set your estimation and tracking statistics differently, depending on what best suits your team.

On this page:

Before you begin

To configure the board and any of its settings, you must be either:
  • project administrator for the location of the board
  • board administrator for the board itself

See Permissions overview for more information.

Note that you can only configure estimation and time tracking for Scrum boards.

Setting estimation statistic and time tracking

  1. Go to your board, then select more ( ) >  Board settings.
  2. Click the Estimation tab. The Estimation page will be displayed.
  3. In the Estimation Statistic field, choose one of the following options:

    Estimation statistic


    Story points

    Estimation will be based on the number of story points per issue. This is the most commonly used option.

    By default, the 'Story Points' field is only available to issues of type 'story' or 'epic' (not 'bugs' etc). If you want to change this, do the following:

    1. Associate the 'Story Points' field with other issue types, see custom field context (Jira admin documentation).
    2. Specify the screens that the 'Story Points' field should be displayed on, see Defining a screen (Jira admin documentation).

    Original time estimate

    Estimation will be based on the Jira 'Original Time Estimate' field (see Logging work on issues for more information). By default, this is specified in minutes, but you can use hours, days, or weeks, depending on your Jira system configuration. See Configuring time tracking (Jira admin documentation).

    Issue count Estimation will be based on the number of issues in the sprint. The 'Estimate' field will not be editable.
    <Custom field>

    Estimation can be based on any numeric custom field in your Jira system.

  4. In the Time Tracking field, choose one of the following options:

    Tracking Statistic



    Tracking will be based on the estimation statistic that's selected.

    Remaining estimate and time spent

    Tracking will be based on the Jira 'Remaining Estimate' and 'Time Spent' fields (see Logging work on issues for more information). By default, these fields are specified in minutes, but you can use hours, days, or weeks, depending on your Jira system configuration, see Configuring time tracking (Jira admin documentation).

    Note that this is fundamentally different from using the estimation statistic for burndown, in that values do not burn down when an issue is completed — instead, values only burn down when users enter time spent or set the remaining estimate to a new value.

More information about estimation and time tracking

Product teams often need to be able to estimate how long a product will take to deliver. This is difficult because the backlog may stretch many months into the future, so the team can only provide a very rough estimate in conditions of uncertainty without wasting days breaking the work down. However, from sprint to sprint, as they work through the stories, the team will develop a cadence of completing <x> units of work they had 'roughly estimated', i.e. their velocity.

This means that they can accurately estimate how long portions of the backlog will take to get done with simple rough estimates. However, to make this work, the team needs to estimate stories with a consistent level of uncertainty. The team also needs to track the amount of estimation units they have actually fully completed from sprint to sprint, because this number tells us with relative certainty how much we can fit into each future sprint.

How the Estimation Statistic and Tracking Statistic affects your project

In Jira Software, you can choose which type of units (e.g. Story Points, Issue Count) will be used for estimating and tracking issues. You do this by choosing an Estimation Statistic, then choosing to either use the same units for your Tracking Statistic or to use time-tracking. Each board can have a different type of Estimation Statistic and Tracking Statistic.

  • The type of Estimation Statistic you select affects the units that are used by the Estimate field, which appears at the right of each issue in the backlog: (Note that the Estimate field is editable when an issue is in the backlog, but is not editable once the issue moves into Active sprints.)

  • The type of Tracking Statistic you select affects the units that are used by the Remaining field, which appears in the bottom left of each issue in Active sprints:

How you can view your velocity and burndown

A team's velocity is based on the estimation statistic — i.e. for each sprint, the velocity is the sum of the estimation statistic for completed stories. Velocity is shown in the Velocity Chart and also on the Sprint Report, in the 'Estimate Statistic' column header of the "Completed Issues" table (e.g. "Story Points (12)" means that 12 story points were completed in that sprint). Please note that the values for each issue are recorded at the time when the issue moves into the sprint. Changing the estimate value afterwards will not be reflected in the Sprint Report, but will be shown as scope change in the burndown. Velocity is also used in the Version Report, to predict release dates.

The Burndown Chart is based on the tracking statistic. If you are using story points as your tracking statistic, then the Burndown Chart shows the story points per story (i.e. stories burning down the estimation statistic are only burnt down on the graph as they are completed); whereas if you choose the time-tracking option, you are shown partial burndown (i.e. the number of hours currently used and remaining each day).

When using the Burndown Chart, note that sub-task behavior can vary, depending on whether or not remaining estimate and time spent is enabled for your board.

Sub-task behavior when remaining estimate and time spent is enabled Sub-task behavior when remaining estimate and time spent is disabled

If you add a sub-task to an issue that's already in an active sprint, the sub-task is treated as scope change.

The scope change is also indicated in the Burndown Chart.

If you add a sub-task to an issue that's already in an active sprint, the sub-task is also treated as scope change.

However, scope change is not indicated in the Burndown Chart for the sub-task.

Time estimates of sub-tasks are rolled up to the parent task.

This means that the parent task will have the total sum of all remaining estimates of the sub-tasks.

Time estimates are tracked individually across the sub-tasks and the parent task itself.

See Burndown Chart for more details.

Next steps

 Need help? If you can't find the answer you need in our documentation, we have other resources available to help you. See Getting help.

Last modified on Mar 15, 2018

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