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Retain rank order on a board regardless of column?

Hello Everyone:


While trying to manage our larger portfolio of work, I've run into a bit of an issue.



Our larger bodies of work are called "initiatives" internally.  I have those set up as our Epics in Jira.  

I have one board that shows the stories which we use in the Scrum board format.  This is primarily used by our development team to focus on the specific deliverables that are either part of an Initiative (Epic) or one-off deliverables (Stories not linked to an Epic).

I have a separate board that shows just the Epics and have set this up using the Kanban format.  I have the columns mapped to a workflow that reflects our process for these large pieces of work (Parking Lot -> Proposal -> Decomposition -> Refinement -> WIP -> Done). The purpose is to be able to quickly show the status of our larger bodies of work and to also provide insight into what could be impacted by any strategic changes in direction.


The Problem

Our directors rank the order of our Initiatives to give direction on priority of work to be completed.  However, that's not always the order the work gets completed in (e.g. If a low effort/high value Initiative that is ranked #5 on our priority list is ready for development, we'll start the development work on it before an initiative that is ranked as #2 but is stuck in our Decomposition phase).

While using the Kanban board for the Epics, whenever I move an Epic to a new column, it doesn't maintain the overall prioritization of the Epics.  In the example I gave above, it'd be beneficial if the Epic was in our WIP column but 5 card spaces down (regardless if there are any other cards in that column or not).   This way we can continue to see the prioritization of the work as it is moving through our process pipeline.  See attached mockup for what I have pictured in my head.

Initiatives.jpgIs this possible with Jira today?


2 answers

0 votes
Andy Heinzer Atlassian Team Jul 18, 2018

Hi Mark,

I don't think it is possible to do this using the Rank field in Jira Software today. 

But it might be possible to provide a very similar look, but the way I can see to do this today is not using a direct relationship to the issue/epic's Rank value.  Instead in my vision of this, I think there is a way we can use the issue priority field and Swimlanes in order to organize cards on board like this.   The drawback to my approach here is that when viewing the board in these swimlanes there isn't a clear way to rank issues in relation to each other unless they have the same priority.

First I went into the board config and set the swimlanes to be based off Queries.  Then I created a query for the different priority levels:




With this in place, returning to the boards looks like this:



You can see that the cards will maintain their vertical position within their swimlane.   So this might help.  I could understand that this might be less than helpful if you were wanting to use the issue's Rank value in this manner.  However Rank is not a clearly set value on issues, the value issues have in Rank is not static either.  Instead the Rank value for each issue is relative to all the other issues in Jira, so it's not an ideal candidate for the kind of view I think you are wanting to setup here.

But I think that the swimlanes could help you view the board in a similar way.


Thank you for the response.   I hadn't considered using the Priority field and then swimlanes based off of that.  While it's not exactly what I had in mind, it may be a stepping stone in that direction.  

At the very least, grouping them by a priority would help to alleviate some of the strain we have with identifying where some items are in the process.

Thank you again, very much appreciated.


Andy Heinzer Atlassian Team Jul 18, 2018

Hi Mark,

I hope that helps.  If you feel that my reply answered your question, please click the checkmark next to my answer in order to accept it.  That will mark this question as solved, and in turn it could help other users that might be searching with the same question in future.



I am having the same problem. Our team is running SCRUMBAN, so our PO prioritises our product backlog and we commit to a sprint goal and a sprint backlog each sprint. As we are following the hybrid approach, this doesn't limit the delivery team to pull in cards from the product backlog if the team believes they will still meet the sprint goal and not breach column WIP limits. Trouble is, when we pull cards into progress, we lose the prioritisation previously set.


The more I think about it, the more I think that the tool may not be the way to make sure we are prioritising correctly, it may have to be a Way of Working and collaboration focus to make sure the team is working on the correct priority. Either way, if this ticket has a solution that meets Mark's needs, I think it will help me too. I'll keep an eye out :)


same issue here.

Any additional board eg. which shows a subset of the workflow tasks, should be capable to sort by Rank ASC, but have an option to disable ranking.

Pulling items from one to another column is allowed obviously, but when pulled it should automatically find its position in that column amongst other items, but NOT change the main ranking.

Adding another order command to the filter JQL didn't work as I expected as it still recognizes that at least Rank ASC is there.
order by Rank ASC, createdDate


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