Cleaning up Done tasks on Kanban board

We are an operations team that does a lot of operational work that comes in through JIRA as well as some discretionary work that also comes in through JIRA. We've started tracking this work on a Kanban board with JIRA Agile. We now have 100's of JIRA issues in the "Done" column and I'm wondering what is the best way to clean these up? Should I do a Release (and continue doing a Release every month)? If a Release is the best way, will it change those completed JIRA issues in any way and will a notification get sent to the Reporter?

12 answers

1 accepted

This is a very frequent question with users of Kanban boards.

Using the release function seems like how JIRA expects you to accomplish this, but if you're not actually releasing software, creating that "version" is really pointless and starts to create 'fake' data in JIRA. And yes, it can trigger notifications in certain instances.

My suggestion is to alter the filter so that it ages issues out of the board. In natural language, what you may want is:

  • Any issues that aren't resolved
  • Any issues that have been resolved in the last X days

I'd write that JQL as: " resolution = null or (resolution != null and resolutiondate < X ) " and add that to your filter. You may want to set X to "30d" or something like that.

This alteration limits the use of the 'Reports' feature as only items that fall within this filter criteria will be reported on. E.g I wont be able to see items worked on or closed over a period greater than the filter

for the record the following works really well with JIRA 6.4: filter query: project = "something" AND resolution = EMPTY OR (resolution != EMPTY AND resolutiondate > -5d AND component = "customer development") ORDER BY Rank ASC sub-filter: fixVersion in unreleasedVersions() OR fixVersion is EMPTY assumes that you use versions, you have a component named customer development

Where I can write JQL query. <It should be under Resolve column? >

It should be in the swimlanes (Board > Configure > Swimlanes). Since this shows all issues where resolution is null (or EMPTY), it will not impact any columns other than the Done one.

If found the following Query to be very effective in finding and viewing only the issues that are not released in a Kanban board. The check for NULL on the fixVersion did the trick.

project = XXX and not (fixVersion is NULL OR fixVersion in unreleasedVersions() OR fixVersion is EMPTY) ORDER BY Rank ASC

Tested in JIRA On-Demand.

Part of the JQL we're using is: ... and (resolution is EMPTY or resolutiondate >= -25d) Change the number of days accordingly. I ran into some trouble using "null".

Spot on! Thanks David :-)

The easiest way for me is to create a new status "Cleaned" or "Archived" or even "Deleted" and leave it as an unmapped status (not assigning it to any of the columns).

When you change the issue to this status it will disappear from the board

Best idea so far. The biggest problem for me is that I want to make a difference between the issues I have closed because they are duplicates or was removed from the project and the issues I have closed because we have completed them

To do this, I suggest you use the resolution to differentiate how an issue is done. So an issue can be Closed with a resolution of Wont Do, Duplicate, Fixed, or Works As Expected and so on...

"Confusing resolution with status

Status describes where an item is in the workflow; resolution explains why an item is not in flight anymore. Think about Retired vs. Damaged. (People sometimes confuse resolution with transition, too – think Damaged vs. Retire Item.)" 

Hi - just to add to Jeroens apparocah, if you were willing to use the ScriptRunner plugin, it has a builtin script called an escalation service that will transition an issue from state X to Y after Z days. We have used this for customers to solve this exact issue on their cluttered boards. They drag the issue all the way to the Completed/Done column. Once it's been there for Z days, the script will transition it to your 'Archived' state, which is not shown on any colum of the board. It helped free up their boards, and they did not have to write any tricky jql..

(no affiliation to adaptavist whatsoever :) )

Hi, I like this idea but how do you move an issue from done to an unmapped status ?

This. I need to know also.

Tasks that are done and do not need further tracking on the JIRA board, I label them as 'Closed' and use the query as (Labels not in (Closed) or labels is Empty). this way the unnecessary tasks are removed from the board and one does not have to make any releases.

I hope it  helps.

YES! Works perfectly, and really quick solution, this has been driving me mad for a while, that's for the great solution.

This is not working for me. I have labeled a number of issues  "CLOSED" and get the following results

All issues labeled "CLOSED" are removed if the filter is:
labels is EMPTY

All issues labeled "CLOSED" are shown where the filter is :
labels is not EMPTY

All issues labeled "CLOSED" are shown where the filter is :
labels = CLOSED 

All are expected behavior however, trying to filter out all issues where the label equals CLOSED using this filter:
labels != CLOSED

removes everything and it gets a green syntax check mark in the JQL input field and I am using the syntax help. 

I do not want to filter out all non-empty labeled issue because I may want to add labels in the future. 

I just want issues that are labeled "CLOSED" out of site - any clarification or help is greatly 

I just created a new filter and put the JGL as:

Labels not in (closed) or labels is Empty


Then when filtering your kanban board with that filter it works perfectly for me.

Thanks David! Including resolutiondate in our JQL has solved our problems.

While the filter change fixes the "noise" issue on the Kanban board, it also adversely affects the report metrics (such as the CFD), as Ryan F commented below. An alternative workaround might be to create a quick filter to filter out the work items that are older than x days. A better product solution for Atlassian would be to de-couple the metrics from the board visibility so "done" work naturally falls off the board without users having to be explicit about hiding it. Another option would be to collapse the left-most ("Backlog"/"To Do") and right-most ("Done") columns, which is what some competing Kanban tools allow (such as Leankit or TFS).

I disagree that creating a "fake" release distorts data.   We are creating administrative "releases" and we are using those as a mechanism to track progress.    We are in the process of implementing this, but our vision is to have a "release" at least once per quarter or any time we have accumulated 20 done items.   Not only does this keep the kanban board clean, it gives us historical reporting capability.   We will have kanbans for business requirement requests (which may end up in a release) and non-systems work.   We are effectively going to use a scrum/kanban approach for everything we do, whether it's directly contributing to software or not.

My problem with the approach of using JQL to age out the issues, is this...

I am in the infancy of leveraging Kanban for my Ops team.  At start-up we will and do have a lot of old issues in WIP.  I certainly want to truncate the DONE column by either date or issue count, but not WIP or TO-DO ... and to my knowledge, I cannot apply JQL to a specific column.

The MIN/MAX constraints are, unfortunately, not intuitive (see  They don't limit the visible issues, they just flag conditions that lie outside of the constraints using color coding.  This seems minimally useful IMO.

Hi Christopher,

If I understood your question clearly, I think you can overcome this issue by applying a JQL query to entire Kanban board, probably like ..... AND (status = DONE AND ...). (Part of board query add this)

Or you can modify the board query to display certain JIRAs with DONE status, like show last 20 days modified ones with DONE status, etc.

Hope this will help you some how.


Shaun W. 


Thanks @Shaun Wickramaratne ...yes, you understood correctly, and yes that is exactly how I was able to truncate my done column ... essentially:

(Project = "Ops", Assignee = "Ops Team Members", Status not Done) OR (Project = "Ops", Assignee = "Ops Team Members", Status is Done, Status Change Date > This Calendar Month)

It works fine, but it seems to me, that simply wanting to truncate the Done column so that it doesn't contain every JIRA issue closed in the history of your organization using the tool would be a very common ask.  Furthermore, I feel that the column constraints should actually limit the visible issues, not just flag the column red when the issue count exceeds the constraint - that red color seems very minimally useful to me.

I'd prefer not to have to rig up truncation functionality with extensive JQL or fake statuses.

Thanks for your response.  Appreciate the feedback.


PS...are you Sri Lankan?  Two of my very good friends are Sri Lankan and have the last names Wickramaratne and Seneviratne.

Hi Christopher,

Good to hear the issue you had pretty fixed. No, I am not Sri Lankan, but I have Sri Lankan background as my parents are Sri Lankan. So I would say my ethnic background from Sri Lanka. by the way, Where you from, located in Australia or? 



Hi Christopher,

It might be better to drive the tasks off of the board with a resolution rather than a status.  This way, if you expand beyond the simplified workflow, your JQL can remain intact.

We're doing it like this...

...AND (resolution is empty or resolutiondate >= -14d)

Thanks, David.  To be clear, I'm not driving issues off the board with a status.  I am VERY opposed to that.  I've seen others suggest it....even to the point of creating an additional status in the workflow, such as "archived" which would be the final state after Closed/Done.  I am opposed to anything that needlessly bloats what is supposed to be a lean workflow.

As far as your suggestion re: resolution, I would be interested in seeing your entire JQL if you don't mind (you can pseudocode it, to protect anything proprietary) as well as your workflow.  If you cannot share those things, I understand.


No, @Shaun Wickramaratne, I am not Australian.  I'm in Southern California.  Thanks again for the response.



We're using this in two places:

Board1 JQL - category in ("TechOps CAP Projects") or Project in (TechOps, "PCI DSS Implementation") AND (resolution is empty or resolutiondate >= -14d) ORDER BY Rank ASC

There are multiple projects represented on this board, and therefore, multiple workflows. 

Board 2 JQL - project = ITCM AND issuetype in ("Standard Change", "Emergency Change") and (resolution is EMPTY OR resolutiondate >= -30d) ORDER BY Rank ASC

I'll attach an example from Board 2 - this is where we deviated from simplified workflow, and we didn't use only the "Done" status.



I am trying to add this to a Kanban board as well, and I am having some issue.

Here is what I want to do:

  • Show all cases that are open
  • Show all cases that are in progress
  • Show all cases that are closed but have been closed only in the last 5 days.


Here is my code, and I can't figure something out, some of the cases have fallen off the board and some have not.  There are cases that are still on the board from two weeks ago, so I don't know what is wrong with this.


project = OST AND status = Open OR project = OST AND status = "In Progress" OR project = OST AND status = Closed AND UpdatedDate <= -5d ORDER BY Rank ASC

I did have parentheses in this, but JIRA took them out, so I guess they weren't needed?

Thanks in advance for the feedback.






Assuming you set resolutions on the issues once they're moved to closed, I'd think you'd do it like this:

project = OST AND (resolution is empty or resolutiondate >= -5d) ORDER BY Rank ASC

You can filter out any status you don't want represented by dragging them in or out of columns. If you've modified your workflow, do check to make sure you're setting resolution on transition to "Closed".  This is accomplished via a post function in the workflow:

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.51.02 PM.png


Dave, thanks so much for your quick response.  I thought I had tried this exact syntax, but apparently not.  This worked well for me, so thanks again.



Does the kanban board have relation to project releases? I.e. we have releases 3 times a year, when release is marked as released, do resolved issues disappear from the Kanban board?

We use the following for a Master Release kanban board, actual releases and version are reserved for genuine resource builds, this however covers anything going out of the front door.

It's useful for us also to see recently completed Releases (issue type) hence the last 7 days of activity for 'Done' items.

We put this in the sub-filter on the Board Settings -> General and Filter


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So I've been struggling with this forever and after finding this post it fixed most of my problem BUT ONE THING:


There are some issues that I had from ancient projects that don't have a resolution field so I can't use the resolutiondate filter to get rid of those. Any ideas on how to get these off of my kanban? I did "resolution = EMPTY OR resolution != EMPTY AND resolutiondate > -7d"


However, since these don't have the resolution field on some of these projects, these tickets that are done still show up on the board. 


Any help?!

Add another set of parens for that project:

... or (project=your project and status not in (Done,Resolved,Whatever)

That won’t get you things that were recently transitioned, but if it’s an old project, that shouldn’t matter. 

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