How do I define custom swimlanes for a kanban board?

I would like to define two swimlanes on my kanban board based upon whether they task is currently being worked on or is ready for the next step in the workflow. I don't see a way to do that easily, which is odd since that shoudl be a key componenet of a kanban board.

I would appreciate it if any answers went ahead and made teh assumption that I am a clueless manager-type and I have zero knowledge of JQL.

Thanks in Advance!

7 answers

1 accepted

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I figured it out. It's not exactly what I wanted, but is serviceable and did not require a billion workflow adjustments to make it work. All I had to do was add a select-list custom field to the screens, and then set up swimlanes that filter based upon that field. This way the Assignee can change the value of the custom field when they are done working on it to "ready", which moves it down into the "Ready" swimlane and it can be picked up by the person working the next step.

It really works very well. The only improvement would be to allow an assignee to change the "Condition" (that's what I named the field) in the details window off to the right of the board directly rather than having to go into the edit screen. That, however, i not something I can arrange.

Sounds like a neat solution, +1 for working this out. Once the Custom Fields can be added to the Issue Detail view (GHS-3474), it'll become even smoother, with users being able to edit Condition inline in the right pane.

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Swimlanes are defined by JQL filters, so you should be able to configure them the way you described. I don't know what your workflow looks like, but here's an example that comes to mind, say with three columns, each contating two statuses: Analysis (In Analysis and Ready for Development), Development (In Development and Ready for Test), Test (In Test and Ready for Release). If you create a swimlane that'll include the three statuses: Ready for Development, Ready for Test, Ready for Release, issues ready to pull to the next column should be nicely divided from the ones being worked on.

However, swimlanes are by default displayed above "Everything Else", so you may want to configure a swimlane for all other issues, to be able to display the waiting issues at the bottom of the board. Hope this helps!

I like this option, it may well be more of a best practices solution too. However, I'd have to do a bit of research about having multiple statuses in a column. How does the assignee choose/change the status? i.e. How do you change from In Alaysis to Ready for Development?

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How are you determining what is "being worked on"? Because of its status, because it's assigned to someone, something else?

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It may be that what I want to do is undoable. I want to basically divide the board in two and allow the team to work on something until they are done and then put it into the queue for the next step in the process. This is fairly easy initially, the Business Analyst just pulls tasks from the backlog. But I'd rather not have her putting the task into an ETL developers queue, I'd like to stick to the 'pull' methodology that Kanban emphasizes. So, that would require that the task be moved, by a team member, into the 'ready' or 'waiting' lane so that the next step can pick it up. It seems like swimlanes are NOT something that you can 'move' a task into so much as a filter for displaying tasks that have some common point together.

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Yes, they are a filter-

A column is a vertical bar in the board and it is associated with any number of statuses as per your customization.

As swimlane is a horizontal overlay on the board, and it simply takes the issues already in those columns and separates them horizontally into whatever settings you give the swimlanes; see the documentation picture here; "BASIC-103" is a swimlane, and "Other Issues" is a swimlane and the issues in those swimlanes are spread across the multiple columns based on what status they are in.

Does this make sense?

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It sounds like you want to configure columns (vertical bars) in the board to represent different statuses?

From the board, click Tools > Configure (top right) and go to the columns tab. You can add and remove columns to set up the board as you want it, then choose the issue statuses that they correspond to within your workflow.

Here are some pages with more detailed info:

https://confluence.atlassian.com/display/GH/Configuring+Columns
https://confluence.atlassian.com/display/GH/Tutorial+-+Adding+a+Column+to+a+Board

As already mentioned above, swimlanes are used to refer to horizontal rows on the board that are used to divide issues by assignee / query / story, rather than statuses.

I understand how to add columns. What I am looking for is a methodology that will allow me to replicate the 'waiting' concept that is part of Kanban. A sort of 'backlog' for each column. On a manual board, this usually shows up as the bottom half of a given column. My initial thought was that a swimlane would allow for that, but that appears to not be the case. It seems that I will have to add a bunch of new columns to get the same functionality.

It's disappointing that something that is marketed as being able to do Kanban does not do this, which is central to the pull concept and the ability to identify bottlenecks in team performance.

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It does. I guess the question now is twofold 1) are the statuses something that can be set by the assignees and 2) do I have the GreenHopper-fu to even give them the opportunity?

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