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Manage Your Jira Backlog like a Pro

Managing a Jira backlog is tricky. Though crucial for project management, even seasoned veterans struggle to make things work when their backlog gets out of hand. A confusing list of tasks, a lack of direction, and delays are all common effects of a mismanaged backlog.

This is why backlog management is important. It keeps things organized and understandable to everyone, thus keeping work on track.

Down below, you’ll find five steps that detail how project managers (PMs) can manage their backlog effectively. So read on to supercharge your backlog management skills!

Step 1: Review Strategy and Business Goals

A roadmap details how a project develops over time and should be used as a guiding north star for your project’s strategy and goals. Accordingly, a backlog's issues should be aligned with the roadmap.

They add context and mutual understanding for your team and stakeholders, which is vital to ensure everyone and everything is coordinated.  

Though unexpected blockers and shifting requirements can impact this alignment, you should still strive to stay on course as much as possible. 

Step 2: Break Down Big Initiatives into Smaller Tasks

Even the biggest initiatives when broken into smaller chunks can seem manageable. More importantly, this helps you distribute work into reasonable and achievable tasks.

For instance, if you're dealing with a parent issue (i.e., an Epic), you can break it down with child issues. This will both provide a clear work breakdown structure (WBS) and better transparency.

Step 3: Set Priority Level for All Issues

When you prioritize your issues, you must also clearly communicate which issues have the highest value delivery and set realistic expectations. 

You can do this with Jira by either dragging and dropping issues to arrange them by order of priority or by manually selecting a priority level.

Step 4: Backlog Grooming

A bit of housekeeping now and then goes a long way in minimizing confusion.

Essentially, this means that once you've created your backlog, you should constantly review and refine your issues.

This can include removing irrelevant issues, defining vague requirements, and even adding new requirements based on stakeholders' requests.

Step 5: Utilize a Backlog Management Tool

Grooming can be time-confusing and tedious. While Jira does come with built-in functions that help with this such as bulk-editing, it isn’t as efficient or speedy as other alternatives. This is where backlog management tools like Excel-like Issue Editor for Jira step in.

Tools like this help PMs groom multiple issues in one fell swoop and create a hierarchical breakdown of existing issues. They also enable users to assign issues to specific team members and export issues to either Excel or CSV formats.

Time is money in the business world, so why not save time?

What Should I Do next?

Backlogs are great when it comes to planning and executing a project. However, when left unchecked, they can ruin the momentum of an entire project.

This is why PMs should constantly educate themselves on how to effectively manage their backlogs.

One great resource to start with is Ricksoft’s The Ultimate Guide to Jira Backlog Grooming.

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