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Is it possible to set WIP Limit on different Swimlanes for a particulr Status

I need to setup a Kanban Board where I need to setup a WIP Limit for different items in the Workflow.

So for example, say I have 20 items of which 5 are Bugs, 10 are Major Enhancements and the remaining 5 are Minor Enhancements.

Can I set a WIP Limit on the "Ready for Dev" Status on the Kanban Board like below :

Bugs : 3

Minor Enhancements : 4

Major Enhancements : 1

I read somewhere that this is not possible in Jira. Can you confirm/clarify ?

3 answers

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Answer accepted
John Funk Community Leader Aug 03, 2020

Hi @Subramaniam Shastri  - Welcome to the Atlassian Community!

No, you won't be able to differentiate between the swimlanes with WIP limits - they are set for the entire column. 

You could create separate boards for each of those and control your WIP Limits there and then have a master board with everything on it like you already have. 

I did not think about that, Thanks !

So you are saying  build  the issue constraints based on different issue types even though the UI in the Board does not have the ability to show it based on Issue types.

That way at least the triggers are being applied even though the Board UI may not necessarily reflect it in the way we want.

Is that right ?

John Funk Community Leader Aug 03, 2020

Just copy the current board 3 times. Then change the filter for each board to look something like:

Project = ABC and issuetype = Bug

Project = ABC and issuetype = Major

Then change the WIP Limits for the appropriate columns. The board UI doesn't really change at all other than the WIP Limits. 

0 votes
Jack Brickey Community Leader Aug 03, 2020

Hi @Subramaniam Shastri , welcome to the Community. This is indeed not possible. While you can set up Column constraints for your Kanban board you cannot do this at an issue type level.

Which is a shame since assigning capacity to a class of service often visualised in swim-lanes. This is Kanban 101, a basic functionality, which has been requested five (5!) years ago. :) Theres is a reason why David Anderson is advising against Jira...

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Are you serious? Where did he say that?

The last time I think it was in a webinar about the Kanban Maturity Model, basically stating that it is difficult for a company to get past level 3 (6) of the KMM. I know him quite well and he is ranting against Jira for many years.

Just watching Atlassian's Product Managers' videos on Kanban or reading their articles on their blog make me cry. They have no clue what-so-ever.

For me it has always been clear that Jira is a bastardised issue tracking system on steroids. I has nothing in common with a modern workflow management tool.

So why am I here? Because Atlassian has better sales people than product managers. ;-)

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Actually I don't think you can even transition from Kanban Maturity Model - Maturity Level 0 "Oblivious" to Level 1 "Emerging" - because that requires personal WiP limits (KMM ref VZ1.1) - which I don't think Jira does either. Nor does it support CONWiP (KMM ref e.g. VZ2.11) which you need at Maturity Level 2. Basically as the above poster is saying Jira doesn't really support Kanban at all. No surprise to hear then that David Anderson is not a fan - he'd be daft to suggest Jira.    

If anyone is reading this from Atlassian please note that David Anderson is the "inventor" of the Kanban Method and the author of many influential Kanban books and is generally seen as the authority on Kanban (just in case you hadn't heard of him). I would strongly advise you to read the "Kanban Maturity Model" book. Even just the one chapter on "Visualize" would do and go through the diagrams in that chapter of how people are supposed to set up their boards at different Kanban Maturity levels. You very quickly encounter many required visualisations that Jira simply does not support. Until you fix this we can only shake our heads and look for another tool if we actually want to do Kanban.

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Very constructive comment compared to my ranting 😊 

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John Funk Community Leader May 12, 2022

There is a new Marketplace app that comes out of a colleague in the Kanban University environment that does all of the things mentioned above.

0 votes

Hi @Subramaniam Shastri 

You can put max constraint on the column which is mapped to a status but that is it. There is no further breakup of WIP based on issue types but I am just curious why you want to do this? 


I needed to do that since work requests will come in from different groups and I need a way to place limits on each rather than all requests.

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