We hear a lot of Jira Administrators say that they suffer from "Custom Field Bloat". Understandable. It's easy to get carried away when you realize how many different ways there are to use Jira. So now it's time to prune those fields back. (Rachel Wright has a great article on how to audit your custom fields.) In this article, we’ll provide the steps for three of options: deleting, hiding and merging Jira custom fields. For each option, we’ll not only look at the steps for execution, we’ll also discuss when you should use it and how you should prepare users for the change.
Don’t do this lightly. Deleting fields will also delete the data they hold and this act cannot be undone. Therefore, this method is best reserved for fields that were created, but never used (a scenario that occurs more often than one might think) or in cases where the data has been moved to another field.
Users will not react kindly to having something they feel they need removed. So check first to see if anyone is using the field. If they are, provided a substitute (see below) or a work-around before deleting the field. You’re a hero when you give users functionality, but a devil when you take it away.
Although this method doesn’t truly reduce the number of custom fields in your instance, it does allow you to declutter your screens. This is a good method to use for custom fields that were used in the past and contain data that you don’t want to use, but are not (or rarely) used now.
You can also hide fields as an intermediary step before deleting them. Hide the field. Wait a week or two to see if users miss it, and if not, delete the field.
Most of the time when you use this method it will be for fields that were important in the past, but are no longer in use. Check with the Project Admins to confirm that this is the case.
Note that if you’re told, “Oh no, we need that field!” but suspect otherwise, you can query for [custom field] NOT EMPTY and then sort by last updated date to see how frequently and how recently the field has been used.
To hide a Jira custom field go to Project > Project Settings >Fields. Find the custom field and click Screens. Click Remove.
In the rush to create what we need, we often forget to check if it’s already there. Your audit may reveal that multiple custom fields have been created which essentially do the same thing. In this case, you should select the one best option (correct field type and most generic name) and merge the other fields into it.
The key in this case is communication. You simply need to let people know that the field they formerly used (XYZ Project Start Date) has now been renamed (Start Date). You can use an announcement banner (available on the System admin menu) to communicate with all of your users.
This was adapted from an article published by ThinkTilt as part of a series on managing custom field bloat. Another option for dealing with custom fields is to substitute a form field for the custom field. Learn more here. (Note that I am with ThinkTilt.)
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