Order by Priority vs. Rank in Kanban Board with Backlog

I have a Kanban board, not Scrum board with Sprints.

I have the backlog enabled (so all To Do are in the backlog section).

I had Priority enabled by default in the Issue Detail View (offering options like Low, Medium, High etc) but not Rank. I enabled Rank and see each story/task has some useless Rank like "0|i000ef:". However, I see that the default filter for my Board is: project = FP ORDER BY Rank ASC. So first question - what is the Rank in my case?

I would like all issues in the mentioned backlog to be ordered by priority, and only stories. So I would rather use Priority. I created a Quick Filter: project = PROJECTNAME AND issuetype = Story ORDER BY Rank DESC but when I changed one of the priorities to 'Highest" it didn't appear on top of the backlog list.

What do I need to do?

 

 

1 answer

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The rank field is a "lexorank" trick, you are not expected to put it on a screen because it's not really human-readable.  You are expected to sort or order by it and to adjust it by ranking issues higher or lower than others, but seeing it directly isn't helpful to humans. 

The data you're seeing on screen there (the 0|i000ef:) is a piece of data that says "I'm here in the order so you can compare me with others", so to answer the question "what is the rank", it really is "0|i000ef:".  It's not much use on its own, it only makes sense when comparing it with other ranks.

When you order by priority, you have to remember that there are only a few priorities on the list.  If you've got 60 issues with "highest", a new one may not be at the "top" of that group because it's got the same value as the other 60

 

Hi, I'm currently looking into this issue as well. As you say, ordering by Priority isn't useful when you have 60 with 'Highest', so how do you best filter this?

I tend to use ranking.  In projects where priority is in use, I'll often use swimlanes or quick-filters on the board to help narrow stuff down by it.

@Nic Brough [Adaptavist] yes, we have the board Filtered by Priority, with Swim Lanes and Quick Filters, however, this doesn't prioritise tickets when, as you said, you have several issues with the same priority. How does Ranking differ to this?

Ranking is a unique indicator of where the issue is in the list of all issues in your system. 

It's roughly equivalent to numbering issues 1, 2, 3, 4, etc, although it's not numbered, as that has all sorts of other problems, and Atlassian abandoned that approach because of them. 

With Lexorank, it's almost impossible (i.e. horrendously slow) to look at it and say "this issue is 10094th on the list", but it is very fast at comparing two issues and determining which is higher or lower, and what the issues above and below a current issue are.

So, rank is separate to priority.  To humans, the best way to think of it is that priority can help you rank, but is not the final decider.  Rank gives you the ultimate order you're going to do things in, not the priority (it's easy to construct real world cases where something with a very low priority has to be done before something that's critical.  It's not a good approach to simply change the "very low" to "critical" because that still doesn't tell you which issue to deal with first)

@Nic Brough [Adaptavist]Yes, but does Rank fix this? Is there somewhere I can go which demonstrates the two, and the different ways of configuring the Kanban board? (i.e. a video or presentation?)

I'm not sure there is anything to "fix".  Priority gives you a broad groups of "how important your users think things are", and rank gives you a uniquely ordered list of things that need doing in your board.  (By "uniquely ordered", I mean that I can always point at two issues and say one is higher or lower than the other in the order of things that need doing)

How you configure a Kanban board is up to you.  Depends on what you are going to find useful for your processes.  I would always order the board by rank, as that enables me to sort cards into the right ranks.  I tend to use quick filters (or sometimes swimlanes) to allow me to quickly see the priority groups.

@Nic Brough [Adaptavist] so you can filter by rank then prioritise with swim lanes and quick filters, or is that conflicting?

No conflicts.  It's not "prioritise" with swim lanes and/or filters, it's just about visualising the priorities within the board, but both swimlanes and quick filters can help you use the priorities to re-rank your tasks.

Ok, great. Thanks for your help. 

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