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How: Kanban, sub-tasks, and WIP

I'm looking for some advice on using Jira for a number of Kanban teams (we're actually Scrumban but that's not critical).

All of our teams have Kanban boards set up with To Do, In Progress, In Review...Done columns. We have a minimum value set on To Do and WIP set on In Progress. 

It's the In Progress column which begs my question.

At the moment, our teams have WIP set to 2 per developer. A team with seven (7) members would have a WIP of 14 on In Progress (and this works for us). What we've learned is that WIP counts stories, sub-tasks, bugs, risks, etc towards it's column total. This is all well and good except in the case of stories and sub-tasks.

When we pull a story into In Progress, everything is cool unless it has sub-tasks. If the story has sub-tasks, when we pull a sub-task into In Progress, this suddenly counts as two items In Progress (the story and the sub-task). [Assuming the same developer is assigned the story and sub-task.] It makes sense because the story is started because a sub-task is being worked on. However, it counts as two against WIP when it's really only one (the sub-task).

We don't want to make WIP four (4) as an example because someone could have a four sub-tasks In Progress for example which definitely "breaks" our WIP.

I was wondering how others deal with Kanban, WIP, and stories having sub-tasks.

1 comment

Hi @Paul Stasiak  -- Welcome to the Atlassian Community!

I saw several open suggestions to improve WIP counts for boards.  You may watch/vote for any of these, or write your own idea.

You may want to check the marketplace to see if someone has an addon for purchase to help.  Another alternative is from pull-based flow: reduce WIP further.  When working on a story (which has or doesn't have sub-tasks), you are working on that story.  Jira appears to be raising visibility to that idea to help a team focus on fewer things at once, and so to get more value delivered sooner.

Best regards,
Bill

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