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Best Practices: Start Customizing your Board

Unlike a lot of competing tools, users can customize nearly every component of Jira Software to fit their needs. That said, with all the possible customizations available, where does one begin? Well, boards are a great place to start! Board customizations can have an immediate impact on your work while being relatively low effort.

Below, I'll cover key customizations that new Jira Software administrators should consider as they cater boards to their teams' needs. I'll avoid the more self-explanatory customizations, although I encourage you to explore those on your own!

(Note: "Board Settings" are available by toggling to the board in question and clicking on the ellipses (...) at the top right.)

Board Filters

Something frequently overlooked in Jira Software is the fact that boards are not contingent on projects but on filters. This means that a board doesn't strictly map 1:1 to a project; instead, it refers to a search query to capture the issues it will visualize.

Say you have two separate projects for iOS and Android development work but the same mobile team works across both softwares. Rather than managing two boards, just create a board that spans multiple projects! With filters, a board's scope can be as narrow or as wide as you need.

To configure your boards, go to the "General" settings of your board configuration. There, you'll find an option to "Edit Filter Query." After clicking, you'll be brought to a search terminal that looks like this.


This is where you'll be able to edit the filter criteria. You'll default to basic search, which allows you to adjust your filter via an array of dropdowns: field, status, project, and most other major classifiers of work.

You can get even more granular if you know a little JQL and want to adjust your board according to more particular parameters, like date of issue creation.

image2017-10-13_11-26-27 (1).jpg

(Tip: While you can play around quite a bit with board filters, make sure that the same issues aren't appearing on multiple boards. This will lead to confused sprint logic.)


Configuring your board columns is another powerful customization that you can leverage right away to make a positive impact on your teams' processes.

There are two types of workflows out-of-box in Jira Software: simplified and standard Jira workflow. (I highly suggest reading through the linked documentation to understand the difference.) For our ensuing conversation, we'll stick to the simplified workflow.

When configuring columns with a simplified workflow, adjusting your workflows is as easy as adding statuses/columns and dragging and dropping to reorder items in the column configuration UI.

For example, if you used the scrum project template, when you toggle to your column configuration, this is what you'll see.


Need a new QA status? Just add a column and a corresponding status.


This way you're able to harness the power of Jira's customizable workflow engine without having to master all of its particulars from the outset.

(Note: If you are using an out-of-box permission scheme, you'll likely need to add yourself to the administrator role for your project before you can add a status. To do this, just toggle to the "People" section of your project settings [not your global administration] and add yourself to the "Administrators" role. The "Add Status" button should go from greyed out to active.)


Finally, let's take a look at swimlanes. Swimlanes are a fundamental aspect of agile where you group like issues into rows for more convenient visibility. In Jira Software, you'll notice that there are quite a few out-of-box options for swimlanes. That said, like your board's filter, you can always use queries to adjust swimlanes more to your specifications.

A common use case for swimlanes is the expedite lane. Say in a given development cycle, due to a cross-project dependency, you suddenly need to ensure that a particular issue gets done before all others. In Jira Software, you can label the issue "Expedite" and create a swimlane that captures all issues with said label.

image2017-10-13_14-2-8.jpgYour final result would look like this, ensuring that your team's attention will be given to the first row before all else.


Further Reading

Hopefully, this gets you started off on the right foot. To dive in further, check out our technical documentation which will expand on other aspects of configuring your boards.

Also, continue to participate in the Atlassian Community to see what others power users have done in their agile practices!



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Status belong to projects, right? So in the example, I would need to add the "QA" status to both iOS and Android projects'  workflows so that I could add both projects to the same board?

Like Eric Jaskolka likes this
Matthew Wong
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
Mar 22, 2018

Hey Daniel!

You are correct. So the simplified agile workflow will not be available if your board accounts for two separate projects. You'd have to edit each project's respective workflow individually and then map them to the new column you create. Good call out.



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