Newly created Sub-tasks not showing up on Kanban board - since status is "Backlog"? What is the best approach?

We are using the new Kanban Backlog (JIRA Labs) option. To do so, we needed to add a new "status" (we called it "Backlog") that is the first default status for all tickets, including sub-tasks.

Issue is that if sub-tasks are created for a ticket on the Kanban board - the sub-tasks do NOT show up on the board (since their status is Backlog). Unfortunately, the sub-tasks also do not show up on the Kanban backlog (since they are sub-tasks).

What is the recommended approach? Can JIRA make all sub-tasks of a ticket show up on Kanban boards? Or do i need to add a new workflow just for Sub-tasks (not desired)?

4 answers

No they do not appear in the backlog boards since they are just sub-tasks of an Issue (parent). The parent issue is where you track them. 

To expand on this a bit - you'll see the subtasks on the board when you're working with them.  That's defined by "we moved the parent into progress" - the subtasks belong to their parent.

I understand that the sub-tasks are NOT supposed to be on the Kanban Backlog board, but should track with the Parent Issue. The issue I am having is that I do NOT see any Sub-Tasks on the Kanban board, even for an "active" Parent issue, if the Sub-task is still in the "Backlog" status.

I was expecting exactly the behavior that @Nic Brough [Adaptavist] suggests (once we move the parent into "To Do" or "In Progress" that the Sub-Tasks would also be on the board), but that is NOT what I am seeing. To Repro:

  • Create an active Kanban Board (where JIRA Labs Kanban Backlog is enabled and you have added a corresponding "Backlog" status as the default first status in our workflow for all issues)
  • Add sub-tasks to an existing issue (Task, for example) that is already on the Kanban Board
  • Since the default first status for ALL issues (in our workflow) is backlog, the sub-tasks do NOT show up in the Kanban board (since they are in status=Backlog)
  • You can see the sub-tasks under the Detail view of the Parent ticket, but they are NOT on the board, until you click on them and change them to "ToDo" (or In Progress, etc.)

I'm considering adding a unique workflow for Sub-Tasks that doesn't include a "Backlog" status - but would prefer not to.Workflow.png

Yes, that's correct - they're in the backlog column which is not shown on the board, then you move them to "to do" and they appear.

Thanks Nic - I guess my point is that this seems like a poor design OR I need a new approach.

The desired behavior in our case is for the sub-tasks to show up on the Kanban board once the parent issue is moved from Backlog to ToDo (is on the Kanban board). It seems to defeat the purpose of the UI of the boards to have to open the Sub-Tasks to change their status by hand.

I hope JIRA considers this as they finalize the integration of Sub-Tasks in this feature. Seems they are still working on it - I'll provide feedback on the feature.

Sub-tasks in the Backlog

The interactions for sub-tasks are still at the early stages of development. Sub-tasks currently don't appear as cards in the Backlog — though they do appear in the Kanban board itself.

You can set up a post function for the transition from backlog > 'to do' that moves sub tasks to e.g 'to do' if parent task is transitioned

Thanks @Marcel Montel - great suggestion - I will give that a shot. I suggest in the final integration of sub-tasks, they are treated similar to the Scrum board (where they follow with the parent by default)... but that is a good immediate workaround.

@Marcel Montel do you have an example of this post function, I tried to create one but don't understand how to create this "custom" function.


@Kalle Ljung
Sure. In your workflow, add a transition that is available from Backlog, eg: Select for Development, then set up post functions as follows:

  1. Transition <transition id (selected for development: 81)> will be triggered on all issues linked to the current issue through the jira_subtask_outward link type
  2. Set issue status to the linked status of the destination workflow step.

Screenshot 2016-06-18 01.01.02.png

I think you need to enable the JIRA Misc Workflow Extensions add-on in order to do this.



@Marcel Montel - thanks for the Post-Function tip - worked great for the specific scenario of when sub-tasks existed when a parent was moved from Backlog to To Do.

A few follow-up questions to see if you would address them the same way:

1) Moving parent from To-Do to Backlog - assuming I should set up a similar Post-Function in the reverse direction. Do you agree?

2) Creating sub-task when parent is already in To-Do - this is the more painful one. Currently, upon issue creation (sub-task or parent), the default status is "Backlog". So, when we create a sub-task for an issue already on the Kanban board (status = To Do), it doesn't show up on the board. Is there a way to create a post-function for the "Create" transition to handle this scenario better?

As a workaround I've had to change the destination of the create transition to the To Do state, and then drag the items back into the backlog.

I'm guessing this is why they call it a labs feature...

@Brian Bargmann: Sorry for the late reply. #1 i'm not sure, this will depend on your own workflow i guess. #2 i am still struggling with myself to find away around it since cloud is not allowed to use Groovy.... Did you have any success in this?

@Marcel Montel - no problem on the reply, but no, I have not found a good work around for this, other than to NOT use the Kanban Backlog feature for teams that actively use sub-tasks and to monitor (via Dashboards, etc.) for tickets that might fall thru the cracks. Seems this is a pretty big gap in the feature.

I have the same problem with kanban boards I have created manually (our workflow has a backlog step and i've made separate boards for backlog and work in progress.)

The post function works fine to update the status of existing issues but as you say, can't help when you create an issue on an issue in To do.

I guess you could have a simple workflow for subtasks which didn't have a backlog step, and then change the query for the work in progress kanban to only include subtasks where the parent is not in status backlog but that could slow down the board.

Agree it would be nicest if subtasks were shown with parent somehow.

Same needs made us to come up with own JIRA add-on called Pivot Report. You can check demo report for Backlog here. No registration needed, just click and see it in action. 

Pivot Report is available both for Cloud and Server. You can evaluate it via Atlassian  Market

If you have any questions on the add-on, feel free to send me an email to

Just to add, i'm having this issue to. Particaularlly point 2 that @Brian Bargmann mentioned.

It seems obvious that you'd want a sub-task created for a story that was on the Kanban board to have a matching state to the parent. Why would you have sub-tasks in the backlog which should be closed before the parent story is done?

I've tried @anorakgirl approach but as far as i'm aware you can't create a query that would filter out sub-tasks with a parent that has a backlog state, without using plugins. Which I can't use as we use a cloud instance and plugin prices are completely ridiciulous these days.

Is there a way to make a post function do this without buying the Misc Workflow addon? (cloud version)


Why are subtasks treated so poorly in JIRA. You can't even re-order them with d+d.


It is things like this that constantly keep me on the lookout for alternatives to JIRA.

Have to agree with Brian Bargmann on this one.  The expectation is that if the parent item is moved to ToDo then the sub-tasks would follow.  It's a shame how long this has been out here and the functionality is not been least not that I can tell.

-> Transition an issue
--> When transitioning issues that have sub-tasks...

  • To transition both the parent issue and its sub-tasks, drag and drop the parent issue while it's collapsed to the corresponding section.

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