Using your Kanban backlog

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Before you begin

  • You can only use the Kanban backlog if it's already enabled by a Jira administrator or a board administrator.
  • The Kanban backlog must be enabled for a particular board, for the board users to use it. See Enabling the Kanban backlog for more information.

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About the Kanban backlog

Managing your backlog in the first column of your Kanban board is easy to do—as long as there are only a few issues in your backlog. As your backlog grows, viewing and scrolling through these issues can become difficult.

If you're planning work for your team, the Kanban backlog gives you a bigger backlog with an optimized list view of the issues you're creating and ranking for your team. If you're a team member working on a Kanban project, you can focus on your work-in-progress on the Kanban board, without the distraction of items in planning.

Accessing the Kanban backlog

Go to the  Backlog of your Kanban project.

Screenshot: sample Kanban backlog (with an issue selected), with Backlog and Selected for Development as board columns

  1. Selected for development: This is the name of the first column on your Kanban board.
  2. Backlog: Issues ready to be dragged into Selected for Development so you can start work on them.
  3. Selected issue details: Comment, update details, add content, and more.


In the screenshot above, the Kanban backlog shows issues in both the Backlog and Selected for Development sections. This makes it easy for you to drag issues from one section to the other. Drag issues from the Backlog section when you're ready to work on them.

An issue will only be visible in the Kanban backlog if:

  • the issue matches the board's saved filter, and
  • the issue's status maps to the Kanban backlog column and the next column on the Kanban board.

This means that if you have the columns Selected for Development, In Progress, and Done on your Kanban board, ensure that you have a status mapped to In Progress at least. If you map all the statuses to the first column (Selected for Development), you won't see any issues in the Backlog section of the Kanban backlog. You will only see issues in the Selected for Development section.

tip/resting Created with Sketch.

The new issue view lets you choose a two-column layout if you have enough screen real estate. Drag the divider and give your issue details more space.

What can I do in the Kanban backlog?

Task Instructions
Add issues to the backlog

Click the   icon  in the global  sidebar.
Fill in the issue details in the Create issue dialog, then click Create . The issue will be added to the backlog under the currently selected issue, or at the top of the backlog if no issue is selected.

tip/resting Created with Sketch.
  • Tick the Create another checkbox in the Create Issue dialog to keep it open, if you're creating multiple issues.
  • Quickly create issues using the inline issue create feature. Just click + Create issue. Learn more.
Prioritize the backlog

Drag and drop an issue to rank it. You can also right-click the issue to open a menu that allows you to send it to the top or the bottom of the backlog.

View and edit an issue's details

Click the desired issue. The issue's details will display in the issue detail view, where you can also edit some issue details, depending on the issue detail view configuration.

To open the issue in a separate tab or window, right-click on the issue key.

To view the details of an epic issue, click the epic lozenge on the issue itself.

Create subtasks

Click the desired issue and click .

Subtasks are useful for breaking a story down into implementable chunks.

Notes when creating subtasks...
  • A newly created subtask is displayed with its parent task expanded. The subtask itself is slightly indented after its parent task.
  • A subtask comes with a label that indicates it's a sub-task of a parent task.

  • You can view subtasks by expanding their parent tasks.
  • Subtasks may or may not be included in the issue count. This depends on column constraints configured for the board.
Transition an issue

Drag and drop an issue from the Backlog section to the Selected for Development section (or the next column of your Kanban board), to move the issue from the backlog to the next status in your workflow.

Note, the Selected for Development section may be named differently, depending on the column configuration of your Kanban board.

When transitioning issues that have subtasks...

  • To transition both the parent issue and its subtasks, drag and drop the parent issue while it's collapsed to the corresponding section.
  • To transition just the parent issue or a subtask, expand the parent issue first, then drag and drop only the parent issue or the sub-task to the corresponding section.

See Transitioning an issue for more information.

Split an issue

Right-click an issue and select Split issue. You can split an issue in the Backlog or Selected for Development sections. Note, these sections may be named differently, depending on the column configuration of your Kanban board.

Splitting an issue is useful when an issue is so big, that it's better to divide it into two or more issues, and make work more manageable. Note that you can only split an issue from the Kanban backlog, and not from the Kanban board.

What happens when I split an issue?

After splitting an issue, the new issue will be sent to the Backlog section. This depends on the column configuration of your Kanban board, but this is essentially the section for the column that's mapped to the initial status of your workflow.

What happens to the issue details?
  • The new issue will be of the same issue type as the original issue. For example, if you split a story into two or more issues, the new issues will also be stories.
  • The new issue will have most of the same details stored in the original issue, including priority, component, and label.
  • The issue details that won't be copied over include work log, comments, issue history, and issue links, though the original issue will be linked to the new issue.
  • The new issue will have the summary that you entered upon splitting the issue.
  • The issue status also returns to the first step of the corresponding workflow, and the resolutions are cleared.
Flag an issue Right-click an issue and select Add flag. You can also add a comment with your flag, perhaps to indicate your reason for adding the flag.
Delete an issue

Right-click an issue and select Delete.

Find issues

Create your own Quick Filters to view only the issues you want. See Configuring Quick Filters for details.

Search for an issue by name, code, or assignee.

Organize stories into epics

Click EPICS (aligned vertically, left side of the board) to show the 'EPICS' panel. You can create epics, drag and drop issues into epics, and filter by epics via this panel.

An epic is essentially a large user story, used for grouping smaller stories. For example, you may have a 'Quarterly audit' theme for your release, which you could capture as an epic.

Note, you need to enable the Epics panel for your board for this panel to display.

Plan versions

Click VERSIONS (aligned vertically, left side of the board) to show the 'VERSIONS' panel. You can create and edit versions, assign issues to versions via drag-and-drop, and filter by versions via this panel.

Note, you need to have at least one version in your project for this panel to display.

Select issues for your team to work on

After grooming the issues in your backlog, you can select which issues your team will start working on, by dragging and dropping issues from the Backlog section to the Selected for Development section.

Issues selected for development will then appear in your Kanban board, and your team can start working on them accordingly.

Note that you can move a sub-task from the Backlog to Selected for Development independently of its parent, and vice versa.

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 27, 2018

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