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How can I troubleshoot JIRA Portfolio's scheduling?

I have an important epic that I need to assign to a team next week.  I have it ranked at the top of the scope in a JIRA Portfolio plan.  It's associate with an initiative that's also ranked at the top of the initiative list.  It is marked "Highest" priority.  It's got a release that's marked due next week, fixed deadline.  No scheduling constraints, no dependencies.

The problem is that JIRA Portfolio ABSOLUTELY REFUSES to schedule that work for next week.  There are four or five epics above it for that team that all have lower priorities.  They're all ranked lower on the board.  None of them have scheduling constraints.  No dependencies between any of them.  I can't find any reason why all of these other milestones would be scheduled before the top-priority task that's ranked at the top of the scope list.

I desperately need to schedule that work for DO THIS NEXT.  JIRA Portfolio disagrees.  'No, you should do these other things next instead, and missing that hard deadline is no problem.'  WHY.  Is there any way to troubleshoot the decisions that it makes?  If it's going to ignore the rank on the epic list and also the priorities on the epics then shouldn't it at least notice that it's going to miss the hard deadline on the release?  Do none of those things matter at all and it's just rolling dice to calculate the schedule?  How can I find out why it's making the decisions that it makes?

Obviously nobody will be able to help me to schedule this work, so I'm going to have to manually set up a schedule for the team without using JIRA Portfolio.  I'm looking for general guidance on how to deal with these scheduling mysteries.

In general, I need to be able to control the schedule.  If I have something that's urgent that needs to start next then I can't have a planning automation tool telling me that I'm wrong, that the task really should start next month instead.  I can't even think about training other people to use JIRA Portfolio and institutionalizing it within our company if I can't schedule an urgent task to start as soon as possible.

7 answers

I'm also incredibly frustrated by Portfolio. For 3 weeks i've been breaking my hands, and my teams workflows, to try and push the square peg that is Portfolio into our system. It's a great idea, it's just bloody impossible to reverse engineer what it's trying to do. So frustrating.

The documentation is also really high level, theres just no detail in how anything really works. It would be great to be able to select an epic and have some sort of UI that says 'here is why this is scheduled by person X by date Y'... your software should be able to tell me what i'm doing wrong! sad

Deleted user Jul 19, 2017

I completely agree with this comment. Very frustrating, and makes me look like an idiot because I can't explain the resulting schedule

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You can see what I'm talking about here:

The epic OMNIA-6 is the highest priority, it's ranked #1, and it's got a release with a hard deadline set for next week.  It has no dependencies or scheduling constraints.

Yet JIRA Portfolio refuses to schedule it until a month or more from now.  WHY?

All of those other things that it wants to schedule first have lower priorities, you can see that they're ranked lower on the list of epics, and they either don't have hard release dates or they have release dates further in the future.  Why does JIRA Porfolio want to schedule those other things first?

Thank you, Allard.  I appreciate you taking your time to respond to somebody who is obviously a little cranky.  That was my frustration talking on Friday, with the boldfacing and whatnot.  I've been trying to find a way to incorporate Portfolio into our processes for about a year and we just can't get it to work so that's aggravating.

Unfortunately neither of those suggestions is the problem.  The individual tasks are also manually ranked above all of the task for those other epics.  And there are resources with the appropriate skills available at the right time.

So I'll continue this with support to see if they can help.  For now reality has diverged from the portfolio plan, since there seems to be no way to control the scheduling in the portfolio plan.  I'll update this thread if anybody can figure out how to make it work.

I have an update.  I threw away that entire portfolio months ago since it was worthless.  JIRA Portfolio has had a few upgrades but it still has this problem.

I have yet another example of this terrible issue.  I have a series of milestones with a priority ordering assigned to one resource and I want to calculate a schedule.  Simple right?  WRONG!!!

Why is it impossible for me to convince JIRA Portfolio to schedule that PORTER-1 epic first? Nothing that I do will stop it from scheduling the most important milestone for LAST.

There are no skills involved here.  

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 4.41.21 PM.png

The sub-issue ranking is not the problem either because the tasks for that epic are the highest ranked at the issue level of the scope.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 4.46.23 PM.png

Every time I try to use this tool the same thing happens.  THAT happens.  How is it possible that people use this tool for scheduling if it's impossible to control the schedule?  This is the most basic function of this tool.  Without control over the schedule I might as well NOT pay for this tool and just roll dice.  What am I missing here?!?

I've burnt sooooo many hours (weeks) trying to write my own documentation on how Portfolio calculates this stuff, it's just the worst thing. Portfolio fundamental purpose is to:

  1. Get my team is working on the most important stuff first
  2. Get my team working on things in the most efficient order possible
  3. Ensure i'm not missing anything.

I'm absolutely with you on the rolling dice comment. I have ZERO confidence that any plan that Portfolio produces is even close to accurate. I've written up my own checklist of things to try when a plan is obviously miscalculating, for 'some reason'... that checklist includes re-ranking my Initiatives so that their ranking is actually respected (tedious, but seems to work).

This tool is such a great idea, and completely useless - BUT, i'm trying hard to make it work anyway, even with all the gotchas.

  1. try removing the filters you have at the top, like the NERVO Micro question filter.... it wont change the schedule, but it might show you the whole picture which might give you an 'aha' moment, as to why porter is so far down the list.
  2. Move Porter-1 below ARFRJACK on the list, then move it back again so its back at top position. This will 'rerank' your issues. did it help?


Thank you very much, Aaron.  I spent hours yesterday moving that PORTER-1 issue up and down, trying to get the thing to schedule that milestone first.  It finally scheduled it first only when I deactivated all of the filters in that portfolio and ranked that epic above ALL other epics in the portfolio plan.  Above a bunch of other things that should not have affected the scheduling for that epic because they were assigned to other teams.

That's an obvious bug.  And if I had more feedback over WHY it calculates the schedule the way that it does, then I could provide a better bug report.

But this is at least an improvement since now I have some degree of control over the schedule.  So maybe we can use this thing.  I've been struggling with this thing for the last five months and this is the most hope that I've had since we had to stop using Portfolio when we couldn't control the schedule at all.  Much appreciated...

Most welcome. I've spent months trying to wrestle Portfolio to the ground and cough up a useful schedule. So much hair pulled out trying to reverse engineer the scheduling logic.

Maybe vote on this new Suggestion i made

JPO-1806 - Report on how scheduling logic was applied

I've started to put together a checklist of things to review when the schedule is clearly wrong, for no obvious reason. Maybe we should start a google doc together as we figure things out.. maybe a flowchart of how this thing works?

Are you okay to share that checklist with me?

Being able to understand how a schedule was created by JPO is my next big request. Otherwise, it's too frustrating trying to reverse engineer the way that the decisions were made.

Please let me know if that becomes an issue somewhere so that I can vote on it.  I've stuck with this thing since the early version 1 days because I can see how valuable it would be if it worked.  But that day when it works well enough to use in practice still seems like it's in the (near) future.

I echo all your sentiments completely. So much potential, but doesn't work. I need to know why things are being scheduled the way they are.

I created my own Suggestion for a report on how the scheduling logic was applied:

Issues related to our current pain, which could use a vote or two.

0 votes

Hi Ryan,

It's very difficult to say what might be going awry in your current setup without more data. But two things do come to mind. 

  • Stages and Skills - from the screenshot I can see that you have quite some skills and at least two stages set up. Is that all set up the way you want it to be? Are there people available with the appropriate skills at the appropriate time?
  • Sub story ranking - The epic is ranked first yes, but it also has children. Is there a sub story that is ranked very low in the back log, causing the that part of the epic to be pushed back in the schedule?

We currently do not have any functionality to analyse the decision tree of the schedule. So, if it's none of those things, I would advise to reach out to support and then we can dig into it further.

Hope that helps.


The scheduling is also an issue for us.  Even if teams have their sprints scheduled for several sprints it will try to stick things in already scheduled sprints for whatever reason.  There should be an option to respect what is in JIRA. 

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