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Sub-Tasks on backlog

How can I show sub-tasks on the backlog view? 

I have a design team who get tasks on a dev user story for the design. I have setup the board so that anything labelled with design shows on their board and backlog, however  they are not seeing this on their board, it is only the sub-task labelled but I can't get subtasks to show in this view. 

9 answers

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Answer accepted

You will need to find a field that displays the sub-tasks as part of their parent issue.

Sub-tasks are normally not displayed on a backlog view, because they're totally irrelevant there.  It's nonsense to try to rank them or put them into a sprint outside their parent, so even if you do show them in a backlog, there's nothing you can usefully do with them.

Thank you Nic. I tend to agree with you, and its good to get the same answer from the community, it just confirms what I was telling them to start with. 

Just not sure how to deal with design tasks though. Do they get logged as their own stories in their own backlog and once done a story is logged for dev? The devs have specified that they will not accept a story into the sprint without the design completed? 

Any other ideas are welcome :D

That sounds like design tasks are done outside the developers sprint.  You could do them as sub-tasks, with the designers working on them outside the dev sprint and the devs ignoring them until that sub-task is closed.  Or separate them completely, having their own issue type or even project, then your developers could ignore any story that does not have a link to a closed design task.

I don't agree that it is nonsense to put a sub-task into a sprint outside of their parent. Similar to Casey-Lea's situation, our focus is on design sub-tasks. Design is intimately linked to the corresponding story so it is right that it is expressed as a sub-task. To separate it out would be unnecessarily complex. 

At the same time, the design needs to take place at least one sprint ahead of the work on the parent Story. So subtasks in backlogs/sprints (would) serve two purposes - they highlight which stories in the backlog have yet to be designed, and they reserve a place in the sprint in which they are completed.

Is it really the case that subtasks can be displayed indented in this manner? And if not, what was the configuration (that I have a vague memory of) that allowed handling of subtasks in exactly this manner? 

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Anothe case using sub-tasks on backlog is connected with quick filters. For instance I have a dev team and a filter for each assignee. I have a couple of planning sprints. Any developer can be assign to either task or sub-task issue. Filterring issues by assignee I see tasks only and this is wrong picture. Moreover a developer filtering his issues will see only tasks or even nothing. All his assignments to subtasks will be hidden
I'm not talking about neither separate subtask ranking nor adding subtask into sprint without parent task. Just only about participating in filter result

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I totally agree with alexey. Please make it possible to view the sub-tasks in the product backlog. This wil make Jira more usefull for projectteams.

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I have had the same request from my engineers.  When they are in the backlog view they want to see ALL their issues, stories and subtasks. 

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To say that subtask are irrelevant to the backlog view is draconian and not even true.  They are relevant, even if not necessarily part of the formal scrum process.

A user story requires work from Designer/Web/iOS/Android/Backend/Other microservice owners etc until it's completed.  User stories are full stack.

It is entirely possible that a user story will not be completed within a sprint, but subtasks of that story can be moved into the sprint whilst other subtasks are not.

Happy with the idea that if a sub task is being worked, so is the user story, and therefore the user story is in the sprint.  BUT that doesn't mean that all the subtasks are being committed to in that sprint.  So when doing planning, I think it makes sense to be able to see and drag a subtask into the sprint, the user story gets moved into the sprint along with it, but the other subtasks are not.  

Epics are broken down into smaller achievable stories, that's understood, but from a project perspective you may not want to use them like this. As usually, epics come first, then smaller user stories, and then subtasks.  

This may not be formal SCRUM practice, but it's the reality for any large organisation and not allowing for it is way too prescriptive.

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Like Alexander Lazarov likes this

Then give us the ability to add a "Task" to a US because Tasks show up in the Backlog 

Like Benoit Letourneau likes this is created in 2013. 

Not sure how long one has to wait for this feature, while it adds more value for many organizations & their way of SCRUM..

@Lisa Schaffer  is this something you can help? I did find you answering something similar in the forum


I think I found a way to filter in backlog view  according to sub-task assignee, I've used:  or issueFunction in parentsOf("assignee = IRINA") and saw dev stories in backlog view where IRINA is an assignee of a sub-task and not necessarily assignee of the dev story

This is individuals view. Yes, its possible for an individual to create a filter for his viewing.But my requirement is the team wants to view it on scrum board (holistically).

Hello all!! :D 

A possibility better solution is to simply added the JQL similar to

"Epic Link" in (XXXX-0001, EMPTY)

Sub-tasks do not have an Epic links.....but neither do epics!

This works in my Kanban and Scrum boards showing the Parent User Story and Sub-tasks !


Hope this helps ^_^


can you please explain on how to implement the above JQL ?


If your project uses Epics and Sub-tasks, that idea appears not to work out so well. Good thinking though

Subtasks have to be planned for like tasks and epics. It is absurd to say that subtasks are irrelevant. I do hope Atlassian corrects this huge gap and includes sub-task in backlog and board

I don't think you understand what a backlog is for.

Maybe there could be an option to include subtasks or not include subtasks. But making a unilateral and unfounded assumption that it is irrelevant is incorrect.

Interesting point - Our design team stopped using Jira altogether and moved to Asana because we could not find way to work with them and Jira, while they are 'part of the dev team' they are not 100% assigned to that team and as a design team they also needed to be able to plan (outside of the project team) as well as have an overall view of what was going on in design. 

I'm sorry that your design team have moved to a weaker tool, it must be a right pain having a team that's not working properly with others.

Like Casey-Lea Olson likes this

I am also sorry :) I do believe that its at least 50 / 50 - 50% the tool couldn't do exactly what they wanted and 50% they didn't want to try and figure out another way

It *is* a pain working with the chaos that cross-functional teams, that might not be Agile-focused, often present. All the more reason for JIRA to offer the flexibility to organize data any way we might then need to - even if that end is the very functional and common exercise of coping with cross-team dysfunction or misalignment. How "weak" of JIRA not to consider solving for the obvious needs of their customers.

It seems that this has been an ongoing request for 7 years now. I find it hard to believe that a company that provides a solution to make agile software development possible, is not agile itself (unless, they just don't want to add this feature, but they don't tell us why).

Yes, Atlassian are well known for not doing requests.  My favourite example was one that took 15 years (and gathered huge numbers of votes).

However, the age of this one is not important.  They've not included a subtask display in the backlog because it's not a lot of use.  A backlog is intended to be used to rank your issues in importance and then build sprints from them.  Subtasks are part of their story in a backlog. 

  • You're not interested in ranking them in the backlog, because you can't.  Their overall rank is defined by their story, relative to others, and you can only rank subtasks within their story
  • Equally, go into a sprint as part of their story, so there's no point seeing them for that either.

In fact, Atlassian did try displaying them in the backlog briefly, and got a resounding "get rid of this noise" from all their scrum teams.  So they removed the automatic display but left open the option to put the list into the view if you need it.

Go to Configure Board -> Card Layout and add a new field to the "backlog" section.  You should find "Sub-tasks" on the list.

This will display a list of all the subtasks on each story in the backlog.  You can't do much with them because of the stuff above, but you can see them and click their links to view their details.

Thank you for your reply. I was not aware for this. Thanks for sharing!

It's good, but still not what I was after. I wanted to have the subtasks visible so I can see them in every person's backlog, for example when I have a parent task and 5 subtasks, and I've assigned each of them to different people, I'd like to go to each person's backlog and see the subtask in their backlog, along with status and estimates. But I can only see the parent task, so if person B is assigned a subtask then it's not straight forward to someone that looks in their backlog, to see that they have that task in the sprint as well! So showing just the subtasks is not very helpful for this use case.

BTW, the remaining estimate that is show is only from the parent task, it's not including the sub tasks, however if you go to individual task view, there is a checkbox to include the sub tasks' estimate to the remaining estimate (but only on this view).

Well, it seems that everyone has their own angle of view and how the utilize each component. Thanks for the help anyway!

0 votes

It was enough for me to see them like this. I can see I have 4 tasks, 2 complete.

Screenshot 2021-01-06 at 10.55.52.png

I show:  status. labels and sub-tasks.

Goto: Board Settings > Card Layout and choose the fields you want to display.

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