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, you get a bigger backlog that gives you 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

Navigate to the Backlog of your Kanban software development project.

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

  1. Selected for Development: Issues in the Selected for Development column of the Kanban board.
  2. Versions (hidden) and epics (expanded) panels. Select your versions or epics to see the associated issues, or drag your issues onto them to make the associations.
  3. Backlog: Issues in the Kanban backlog column of the Kanban board.

Note in the screenshot above, the Kanban backlog shows issues in both Backlog and Selected for Development sections. This makes it easy for you to move issues from the backlog to selected for development. Issues selected for development will then appear in your Kanban board, and your team can start working on them accordingly.

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

  • the issue matches the board's saved filter, and
  • the issue's status is in the Kanban backlog column, or the next column on the Kanban board.

What can I do in the Kanban backlog?

Add issues to the backlog

Click Create in the header to open the 'Create Issue' dialog and create your issue. 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.


  • Tick the Create another checkbox in the 'Create Issue' dialog to keep it open, if you are creating multiple issues.
  • You can quickly create issues using the inline issue create feature. Just click + Create issue.
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 sub-tasks

Click the desired issue. Select More () > Create sub-task to open the 'Create sub-task' screen. Create the sub-task as desired.

Sub-tasks are useful for breaking a story (issue) down into implementable chunks.

Notes when creating sub-tasks...
  • A newly created sub-task is displayed with its parent task expanded. The sub-task itself is slightly indented after its parent task.

  • You can view sub-tasks by expanding their parent tasks.
  • Sub-tasks 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 multiple issues...

Depending on the following conditions, you can transition multiple issues from the backlog to the next status in your project's workflow:

  • You have the transition issues permission.
  • The statuses of the issues are already mapped to the board's columns.
  • Your project's workflow supports the particular transition for the multiple issues selected, and all transition conditions are met.
  • The issues you're transitioning have the same set of transitions.
  • The issues you're transitioning don't have any associated transition screen.
  • You can select multiple issues by using the Shift or Ctrl key while clicking the issues. However, you can't transition multiple issues by dragging them to another column. You can only move multiple issues within the same column.

When transitioning issues that have sub-tasks...

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

When transitioning issues to a column with multiple statuses…

If your Selected for Development column has two statuses, one with a transition screen and another without it, your issues will be assigned to the status that doesn’t require a transition screen. 

See Transitioning an issue for more information.

Flag an issueRight-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.

Decide how many issues are visible

We want to make sure you don't have to wait for your backlog to load, so, by default, we show you a maximum of 100 issues (90 from the top of your backlog and 10 from the bottom) and hide the remaining ones. If you want to see all issues, just click the Show all issues hyperlink that splits your backlog. Then, we'll load all your issues.

If you have more than 100 issues, you can also click More () and select how many you want to display. You can select to see 100, 500 or all issues.

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.

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 'Performance' theme for your release, which you could capture as an epic.

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.

Hide issue detail view

If you're switching between the issues on the list, it might be useful to hide the issue detail view that appears on the right of the backlog. You can do it by clicking More () > Hide detail view.

Next steps

Need help? If you can't find the answer you're looking for in our documentation, we have other resources available to help you. Check out Getting help

Read the following related topics:

Last modified on May 6, 2021

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