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How to rank a long backlog?

I have a backlog with several hundred feature ideas and bugs.

I used to use Trello and could easily move a card to the 145th position.

In my Scrum board, it is really, really hard to rank these. I can put issues at the top, or at the bottom, but otherwise, I have to drag and scroll pass hundreds of issues. Actually, I could see that working, but the scroll is slooooow, and it stops working unless I keep jiggling the mouse every couple seconds.

I've played with all sorts of ideas. I even thought of adding arbitrary divisions using psuedo-sprints that are never started, but for which I can use the "Move to" functionality to get the story idea to the approximate position and then slowly scroll from there. But that doesn't work, since once I add a new real sprint, I can't move it above these other ones.

How do you rank items in a backlog more than a few dozen issues? Currently, it is extremely tedious and unmanageable.

6 answers

Paul, did you ever get an answer? We have the same challenges with our 400-task backlog. I feel like I must be missing something-- any large project accumulates a few hundred tasks in the backlog over time, so there must be strategies that others are using to manage those big backlogs.

Still no answer? We've got 2,500+ backlogs and are running into the same issue.

My team is having the same issue. Is there no feature that let's us move cards without scrolling through hundreds of cards?

I am a product owner and having the same issue with our backlog. We have a mature product with hundreds of issues in the backlog. It is very tedious to rank issues into the desired order using drag and drop when you want to put something in the middle rather than at the top or bottom. Would love to have an option to just enter a rank number or equivalent to easily get the issue near to the desired position. It is taking me far too long to organise the backlog and I find that because of the difficulty in ordering the issues I am not as thorough as I would like to be with grooming.

hmmm some people create a separate project for Product Icebox. Which is essentially a backlog in a separate project. It becomes more manageable.

We created a custom field ("Team Priority") and then changed the board filter to use this field for ordering instead of Rank.  You can then enter the rank order value for each story manually rather than drag and drop.

There are two drawbacks to this approach: first, "bulk updates" are still cumbersome (still have to update each story manually.  Second, when you need to create a new sprint you have to temporarily revert the board filter query back to use Rank.

This approach also seems to break ordering on the active sprint board when Quick Filters are applied.  I'm currently discussing this with Atlassian support.

So you basically switch the filter back to Ascending Rank before you start the sprint, and once started, immediately switch it back to Team Priority?  Does this cause any other downstream issues?  It this a quick 5 minute process?

It is a quick process, but we're going to abandon it.

I've been working the past several weeks with Atlassian to address bad side effects, like being unable to properly sort/order things like the Sprint Board and our dashboard elements when we use a sort field other than Rank.

As an alternative, we'll likely keep our custom sort/priority field, but only as a reference.

This article provides some interesting ideas for using Category or labels to trim your "visible backlog" so the list is more easily managed with drag-and-drop built-in Rank: 

That's a real bummer.  I used Jira and Greenhopper 7 years ago at another company and thought it was an incredible product, but this is a huge miss on their part.  Agile is meant to result in an ever-changing backlog and prioritization, but it shouldn't be this complicated to maintain.

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