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What is the best way to structure Jira projects & boards for a software company with many clients?

Hi everyone, 

Our company is moving to Jira and we are trying to figure out how best to structure our Jira cloud instance. 

A little background on our company, we are a software development company with 20-30 separate clients and 7 developers. Our workflow consists of the user stories being added and estimated by a project manager before passing the work off to the developers and tester. The project manager is also responsible for approving the work and delivering it to the customer. I plan to use a Kanban-style approach for this workflow.  

My main point of confusion right now has to do with projects and boards. My first thought was to create one project per client while also creating an operations project for the developers, testers, and project managers. The operations project could have boards for each role, that display issues from all of the client projects. 

I've run into a few issues with this approach. First, I lose some functionality when viewing all client projects from a single board rather than having one board per client. For example, the Kanban backlog page shows issues from every client project making it harder to prioritize. This leads to having to create and configure a project and board for each client, which is pretty time-consuming and can lead to errors if they aren't all configured correctly. 

It seems like I'll end up needing to do the following each time we bring on a new client: 

  1. Copy and existing project & board for the new client.
  2. Re-configure our operations board to include that client.
  3. Bounce between the operations board and the client's board to manage the project. 

Does anyone have a better way this could be structured? 

1 answer

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Answer accepted

Hi @Calvin Smith welcome to the Atlassian Community!

I think you might be over complicating this.

My recommendation would be to do the following:

Have 1 Jira project where your PM's, developers, and testers all work together.

I would enable the backlog on your kanban board and have your PM estimate, prioritize/rank the backlog.  When the PM is ready to assign work to the developer, then they can move the item from the backlog to Selected for Development.  At this moment in time, the story becomes visible in the Kanban board and the developer will start work.  I would also recommend that your workflow/statuses account for the steps that both the developers and testers will partake in.

Finally, since you have 20-30 clients, the amount of stories might become overwhelming.  My recommendation there is to create a component or release for each client.  You can then create quick filters for each client (and the only manual work going forward will be you creating a new quick filter for every new client).  With those quick filters in place, you can then just see the client that you want to focus on.

Another idea would be to make an epic for each client and this will remove the need for creating quick filters as you will be able to quickly filter the backlog by simply clicking on an epic (You will need to enable the Epic's pane in the backlog if you decide to do this).

I currently don't have any videos showing how to do this, but if you need a little extra help, let me know and I can post a quick video on my channel to help you out.

In the mean time, I do have a video that shows how to enable the backlog on a kanban board.  Check it out! 

Watch around the 3 minute mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7ZIt5aicvc&t=11s

@Alex Ortiz Thanks for the response! The only thing I'm a little scared of with that solution is the possibility that it might be hard to scale to hundreds of clients because of the number of quick filters. I suppose I could create additional boards to filter further. Thanks again for the help. 

I'd personally go with the Epic idea.. . . if you aren't already using epics.  Or Releases . . because both of those will quickly let you filter in the board without needing to create additional quick filters.  

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