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Can you set a per person WIP Limit on the Kanban Board


As part of Kanban Maturity Model, one of the things  that we are required to do is to set a per person WIP Limit. Is this possible to do this in Jira ?

1 answer

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John Funk Community Leader Aug 24, 2020

Hi @Subramaniam Shastri  - I am not sure where you are seeing that, but personal WIP limits are a sign of low maturity and should not be used as something you are aspiring to.

Therefore, WIP limits should only be done by column for the entire team.

@John Funk The Kanban Maturity Model is for teams moving toward a full Kanban experience, and personal WIP are recommended at the first level, as teams begin their move to Kanban.

@Subramaniam Shastri I haven't seen this feature in jira software, but you can set up swimlanes for individual team members.

Like Andrey Matusevich likes this

@Katie Carter  & @John Funk 

So I need to account for a specific scenario :

Currently WIP Limits are set on the delivery board at a team level. However the Tech Lead also actively spends time on discovery board. So I am trying to determine if i can account for time for the Tech Lead on the discovery board and delivery board and also for the team on the delivery board.

Any thoughts ?

I know a team lead who was having trouble fulfilling their sprint commitments because they were stretched between several different roles. After months of this, he finally just learned to take on less because he had to be realistic about his time and commitments. But I think it's easier to evaluate those limits in Scrum.

You might look into an add-on like Capacity Tracker.

John Funk Community Leader Aug 24, 2020

Hey @Subramaniam Shastri  - The user should determine how must of their available time is being spent on each board and factor that into each board's WIP limits. In other words, if the Tech Lead spends 30% on one board versus 70% on another, then factor that percentage towards the WIP limits. So, if there are 3 devs plus the Team Lead on the 30% board, then you might want to use 5 or 6 for the column WIP limit. 

You don't want to be operating at a Level 0 KMM - you should be moving beyond that. Implement steps that help you mature, not stay where you are. :-)

Like Bill Sheboy likes this

Yes, and...

When teams choose to split their workflow into different streams and Kanban boards, such as Discover-Delivery-Release, people who work on the multiple streams are put in a difficult position of making their capacity and WIP visible to teammates and stakeholders.

One way to mitigate that issue is what John suggests for adjusting WIP limits based upon the expected capacity for a specific stream (e.g. Discovery).  Another way is to adjust the Kanban board's entry and exit points to cover more of the product lifecycle, from Discovery to Release.  Using this second approach may better align with how the team works as people's capacity (and WIP limits) are applied to everywhere they help develop valuable products.


Best regards,

Like # people like this

@William Sheboy 

Can you elaborate on the second approach ?


I also need to setup an Automation rule if at all possible wherein items are automatically pulled from Discovery to Delivery if they fall below threshold.

@John Funk 


Thanks for your suggestion.

Hi @Subramaniam Shastri 

You have asked two questions:

Changing workflow:

  • I was noting that when people work on multiple boards, it is difficult to see what is happening, for them and for others
  • When the work on the multiple boards is part of one larger lifecycle, it may help to combine them onto one board, reflecting the full lifecycle

Automated change from Discovery to Delivery:

  • I am unclear what you mean: "automatically pulled from Discovery to Delivery if they fall below threshold"
  • Discovery is often when new requests are considered and refined until the are ready to be selected (commitment point) or abandoned
  • What threshold do you mean where a Discovery item would be automatically moved to delivery?  That would seem more like a "push" than the "pull" used for Kanban methods.

Best regards,


How I got this to work was with a rule if you are interested screenshot is below, this rule moves the latest one into In Progress and the one in In Progress back to and Open/To Do state

2021-03-16 14_47_18-Project automation - Jira.png

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