View the Jira Align "Why" Field in Jira Software

You can configure your Jira integration to display information found in Jira Align's Why button directly in a Jira Software Epic (This sync will only apply to Jira Epics and not Stories). This is useful for seeing how an epic contributes to capabilities, themes, and the overall strategy.


  • Data syncs one-way, from Jira Align to Jira Software. Some Jira Software configurations may make the Why field appear editable in Jira, but any changes made will be overwritten upon the next sync with Jira Align. 
  • The data from the Why button only syncs to Jira Software when a work item in Jira Align is updated and saved. Progress data is from related work items is not automatically synced.
  • The new issue view in Jira Software is recommended for better visibility of Why data.

Create a custom field in Jira Software

To bring Why data from Jira Align into Jira Software, you must first create a custom field in Jira Software. The custom field type must be Text Field (multi-line). Give the new field a familiar name, such as Jira Align Why Definition. 


Once the custom field has been created, obtain its Custom Field ID. In Jira Software, search for the field under Settings > Issues > Custom Fields. Once located, click the ... menu icon in the upper-right and select Edit or Configure. In the resulting page, the Custom Field ID can be found at the end of the URL in your address bar. For example:!default.jspa?customFieldId=100xx

Connect the Why field in Jira Align

To connect Why data to your Jira Software custom field, log into Jira Align and navigate to Administration > Connectors > Jira Settings > Jira Setup > Custom Fields. Next, scroll down to the Why? Details field and enter your custom field ID in the following format: customfield_100xx, where "100xx" is the ID located in Jira Software. 



Notes: The "Why Button" sync is currently behind a Feature Toggle within Jira Align and will need to be activated by a Jira Align Support Engineer or Solution Architect prior to rendering under Administration > Connectors > Jira Settings > Jira Setup > Custom Fields

Data Displayed

Once the Why field is configured, the following data will be displayed in the custom field when viewing an epic in Jira Software:

  • Associated work items: Epic, Capability, and Theme, when present 


Shawn Kessler
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
February 5, 2020

Great article @Tim Keyes ! The Why button is a very powerful tool in Jira Align for showing parent work items, success measurements, and business cases linked to the target. It is often under used, so hopefully this article will make more users aware of it ;)

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Mark Cruth
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
April 3, 2020

Here are the fields you need to enter to populate the Success Measurement and Business Case on the Why Button...

Success Measurement

  • Populated from adding a Success Criteria to a Jira Align Epic 
  • Uses both the Problem Statement and Success Criteria Fields

Business Case

  • Populated from the Benefits Tab on a Jira Align Epic
  • Uses the Current Situation, Recommendation & Desired Solution, and Future State & Desired Outcome fields
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Gaj Umapathy October 7, 2020

We have added this but then noticed that the sync from Align to Jira only happens when an Align Epic is updated. If we were to only update the Epic's parent task such as the Initiative linked to the Epic it does not sync the Why button details to Jira.  Is this expected behavior? 

Another issue is that the percentage showing as completed on the Why button for Initiative (showing as 0%) is not what is there on the initiative itself (which shows 50%). Happy to raise a support ticket if you think this is a bug. 



Hina Tufail June 2, 2021

Hi @Tim Keyes , I cannot manage to see the "Why ? Details" mapping anymore in the current Jira Align settings > Jira setup. Is it because this functionnality was removed ?

Best Regards,


Tim Keyes
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
June 2, 2021

Hi @Hina Tufail

Thank you for the question.  The "why button" setup field appearing under Jira Align Admin > Jira Settings > Jira Setup is tied to a Jira align Feature Toggle that the Jira Align support team can help you enable.  It is possible that that toggle was enabled on a Jira Align site you were using but disabled on your current site.  

You can submit a support request to to receive additional assistance on having the toggle enabled for your instance.

Thank you!

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Hina Tufail June 2, 2021

Thanks @Tim Keyes  !

Richard Wilson _Jarow Digital_ June 2, 2021

@Tim Keyes can we do this using Azure DevOps as well?

Liza Merriman November 11, 2021

Is anyone aware of a way to make this custom field render the text from the Why into a table like it would in the description of a jira issue? It's really hard to read when not rendered properly.


@Tim Keyes 

Christoph Piotrowski _catworkx_
Marketplace Partner
Marketplace Partners provide apps and integrations available on the Atlassian Marketplace that extend the power of Atlassian products.
February 14, 2022

@Liza Merriman, you need to change the custom field renderer in Jira:

Jira Admin -> Issue Settings -> Field Configuration -> select field -> Renderers -> Choose "Wiki Style Renderer"

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