Creating custom Jira workflows for managing software development

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What is Jira?

While primitively designed arsenic a bug tracker, implicit the years Atlassian’s Jira has go the 900 lb gorilla successful the endeavor for managing bundle improvement projects.

There are a fig of reasons for that popularity, from its pivotal relation successful Atlassian’s larger DevSecOps toolchain, to the extended fig of third-party plugins disposable done Atlassian’s marketplace. One contributor to that popularity is the flexible mode Jira handles workflows, allowing teams to accommodate the instrumentality to the mode worth moves done their workstream, versus modifying the mode the squad works to align with the tool.

SEE: Hiring kit: Back-end Developer (TechRepublic Premium)

What’s a workflow?

In bundle development, a workflow defines the steps and statuses that tasks determination done arsenic a portion of a team’s process. Out of the box, Jira provides a 3 measurement elemental workflow (Figure A):

Figure A

jira-workflow-bill-2Image: Bill Francis/TechRepublic.

You tin ideate if you were developing, say, a mobile ordering app for a speedy work restaurant, and your squad was tasked with adding the quality to judge recognition paper payments, however this enactment mightiness travel from near to right.

Your merchandise proprietor would constitute up the requirements, and erstwhile it was ready, spot the task to instrumentality this diagnostic successful To Do. A developer would past commencement moving connected this diagnostic marking it In Progress. When she completes that work, the physique gets handed to a tester. If everything works arsenic expected, the tester moves the task to Done.

Throughout the process, Jira provides visibility to each the stakeholders who aren’t successful the code, successful effect allowing a task manager to support up with docket and indirectly budget.

How bundle gets developed

In reality, bundle improvement is not a linear process. It has starts and stops and often has to repetition steps of the process until the desired effect is achieved. Even our elemental retired of the container workflow doesn’t really conscionable travel from near to right. Here’s a much realistic practice of however tasks travel crossed adjacent the simplest of Jira workflows (Figure B):

Figure B

jira-workflow-bill-3Image: Bill Francis/TechRepublic.

Key workflow components

Before we get excessively heavy into what’s an perfect workflow and however to make it utilizing Jira, it’s important to level-set connected the cardinal components of a workflow arsenic defined by the tool.


This is the existent authorities of a discrete enactment item. In our elemental workflow, a task is either To Do, In Progress oregon Done.


These are the actions taken successful the instrumentality to determination a task from 1 authorities to the next. In our example, the enactment of assigning thing successful the To Do authorities to a developer mightiness modulation that point to In Progress.


When a task is yet completed it needs immoderate associated resolution. The solution is the disposition of the last authorities of a enactment item. It’s considered finalized oregon nary longer open. In our elemental workflow, this is Done, but successful a much precocious workflow, you whitethorn person different resolutions imaginable specified arsenic Canceled oregon Published.


The bulk of bundle teams contiguous utilizing Jira for task absorption are managing their projects utilizing immoderate signifier of agile development. This means – successful a radical mounting – the squad often works from immoderate benignant of board, typically kanban oregon scrum. It should travel arsenic nary astonishment past that workflows successful Jira correlate to the columns connected your boards.

Recommended fFlow

There are nary close oregon incorrect answers for what your bundle improvement task absorption workflow should beryllium successful Jira. Workflow tin vary, adjacent wrong a team, for antithetic types of tasks.

For example, the workflow of a bundle bug is apt going to beryllium antithetic than that of a caller feature. Even with flimsy naming variations to align with your organization, determination are immoderate champion practices you tin look to for guidance.


A class is 1 of the astir important and often overlooked, properties of creating a task absorption workflow successful Jira. Within Jira determination are lone 3 categories, and you’ve already seen them (Figure A).

In the simplest, retired of the container workflow, categories and statuses are the same. However, arsenic we physique retired and customize our workflow, each caller statuses indispensable representation to 1 of these 3 categories. Why? For reporting and automation. Jira has a fig of canned reports, similar the pain down, that lone relation if careless of however galore states you adhd to your customized workflow, everything maps backmost to 1 of these 3 preordained categories (Figure C).

Figure C

jira-workflow-bill-1Image: Bill Francis/TechRepublic.


This is the unsmooth database of each the known enactment your squad has sorted successful precedence order. All tasks that participate the workflow commencement successful the backlog.

To do

Once capable requirements are gathered and a task is deemed ready, it gets moved into the To Do authorities wherever it is disposable for a developer to statesman coding.

In progress

As the task is being completed by the developer, it is considered successful progress. When the developer finishes the task to his satisfaction, helium volition determination it to Test.


As a champion practice, a developer doesn’t trial his ain work. So items marked arsenic Test are undergoing valuation by different squad member, usually a prime assurance technologist oregon the merchandise owner, to guarantee each the acceptance criteria are met.


Tasks that successfully walk the trial signifier get resolved with a presumption of Done.


If for immoderate crushed from the clip a task enters the backlog, up until the clip it is marked done, the squad decides the enactment won’t beryllium completed it gets resolved with a presumption of Canceled. This ensures we tin way that the task was considered, and successful immoderate cases started, versus conscionable deleting it which would supply an incomplete representation down the road.


At immoderate constituent erstwhile the enactment begins if a squad subordinate can’t proceed moving connected the item, it gets moved to Blocked. The intent present is to gully attraction to an point that was committed to and present not being worked connected truthful that the squad tin swarm astir the contented and get it unstuck.

Configuring Jira

Creating the workflows successful the Jira instrumentality itself is reasonably straight-forward and tin beryllium found connected the Atlassian site.

Note that workflows get created otherwise depending connected whether you person a “company-managed” task oregon a “team-managed” project. If you aren’t definite which applies to you, look astatine the lower-left country of your task sidebar. It should either accidental “you’re successful a squad managed project” oregon “you’re successful a company-managed project.”

Once you are satisfied with which benignant oregon task you have, travel the due links connected the Atlassian enactment page. If you aren’t rather definite you privation to tackle mounting up your ain task absorption workflows for bundle development, consider a plugin from Atlassian’s marketplace to bash it for you.

Final thoughts

When mounting up your workflows, support successful caput these tips.

  • Don’t overthink it: The simpler the better.
  • Group categories: It’s mostly atrocious signifier not to person each your In Progress steps unneurotic arsenic it impacts your quality to measurement rhythm time.
  • Consult each your stakeholders: The thought is to make workflows that conscionable everyone’s needs.
  • Lean into your transitions: This volition let you to make validation steps, automation rules and adjacent power assignees.
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