How does JIRA backlog order and portfolio rank influence each other? Edited

First I wanted to say that Portfolio for JIRA is a great add on that enables us to finally create realistic release plans and manage capacities with JIRA.

We have a Kanban process for a product that is currently in MVP development stage. There are two different orders, the one of the JIRA backlog itself and the rank of portfolio.

While working with Portfolio, many questions came up:

  1. When reordering stories in the JIRA backlog, how does it influence the ranking in Portfolio?
  2. On the hand, when reordering stories in Portfolio, does it influence the JIRA backlog?
  3. We faced an effect that a developer dragged a story to another board column which results in a status change. The story ranking in the Portfolio backlog changed. How is that possible?
  4. Is there a way to prevent Portfolio ranking from being changed, e.g. lock rank?
  5. How do the epic rank and the story rank influence each other? Generally we want to keep stories of epics together.
  6. Does the epic rank influence the scheduling of stories?
  7. What is the recommended way of ordering items? JIRA backlog, Portfolio story backlog or epic backlog?
  8. Is it a good idea to influence the scheduling order by adding "X blocks Y" dependencies?
  9. Is there a way to keep stories in progress always at the top of the ranking?

Thanks in forward.

1 answer

1 accepted

Hi @Stephan Dreyer,


  1. The story ranking in your backlog and in your Portfolio plan is the same
  2. Re-ordering stories in Portfolio will have the same effect as re-ordering in your backlog (But the changes need to be committed from Portfolio to impact Jira)
  3. It is possible when dragging an issue from one column to the other you also applied a rank change (i.e This card was put above that other card...) or that the status made it no longer appear in the Plan which could have an impact on its parent rank in Portfolio (See 5.)
  4. No, this is using the same rank as Jira / Backlog and will always be in sync (+ uncommitted changes)
  5. If an issue has children (e.g. Epic with some stories) then the rank of the parent becomes the rank of its highest-ranked child. The reason for that is that we want to make the parent rank represent what will be done first, if the top story of an epic is ranked last this epic will be scheduled last so it should appear last in the ranking. Re-ranking a parent will re-rank both the parent itself and all its children.
  6. No (see 5.)
  7. The story needs to be ranked properly and this can happen in either the Agile board or you Portfolio Plan. Re-ranking your epics (or above) issues in Portfolio has the advantage or re-ranking all the children issues for you which can be more convenient depending on your use case.
  8. Using dependency is good if it is realistic. If those issues could really be started independently given infinite resources (if only!) then working on the ranking might be a better solution.
  9. No (see 1.), but if the ranking represents the order used to work on items then this should already "mostly" match. The latest version of Portfolio for Jira Server would allow you to filter by status and status categories with could be convenient to have a quick idea of what is in progress.


Thanks for the questions, I'm sure this will be useful to many other community members! Please share your feedback on the ranking behavior and what you would like to see happen differently.




Hi @Thomas Barthelemy,

thanks for your comprehensive answer. I think it's hard to understand for many people (and me too) whether the Portfolio plan is a target plan or does reflect what's actually going on in a kind a status report. The difference between both is:

  • Target plan: At some point during whole project planning, a product owner has to commit to the plan and stick with it. Once the long term plan is final, the order (at least of epics) should not change. Major changes in scheduling of stories / epics are hard to communicate and should be prevented.
  • Status report: Sometimes unexpected things happen and stories are started sooner than scheduled. Portfolio does not reflect that without manual adjustments. It is hard to communicate to stakeholders that a story developers are actually working on is still scheduled somewhere in the future. For the short term view, Portfolio should adapt to such changes.


As a result of your answer, my feature requests / proposals to the Portfolio development team are:

  1. Introduce a button to freeze the schedule. This would submit the scheduled start / end dates to the target start / end dates of epics or stories. I think this is very easy to accomplish and helps a lot for long term planning.
  2. Allow to mark a plan as target plan. Technically this could be a special scenario. Future schedule calculations should respect the target plan and keep stories/epics in their order and nearly at their start/end dates as much as possible. Deviations between the target plan and the current situation would become visible.
  3. Enhance the scheduling algorithm to respect story status. The first scheduling round would schedule all stories with status "In Progress" because there still has to be an order due to limited capacity. The second scheduling round would schedule all other stories after the stories in progress.


Best regards,


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