How to Use the Jira Workflow Editor for Seamless Project Management

by | Jun 25, 2024 | Jira

Jira is a powerful tool for project management, particularly in Agile environments. One of its standout features is the Jira workflow editor, which allows you to create and manage workflows tailored to your team’s needs.

This blog post will guide you through the essential aspects of using the workflows in Jira to streamline your project management processes. You’ll learn about default and custom workflows, their components, how to create and manage workflows, the benefits of using them, and solutions to common challenges.

What is a Jira workflow?

A Jira workflow is a visual representation of your process, defining how an issue moves through various stages until completion. In other words, it’s a sequence of statuses and transitions that an issue follows during its lifecycle.

Workflows are crucial for effective project management, as they ensure consistency and clarity in how tasks progress from start to finish. In an Agile project management context, workflows help teams visualize their processes, track progress, and ensure everyone understands their role in moving tasks forward.

What are the default and custom workflows?

There are default workflows provided in Jira, but you can also create custom workflows to better suit your team’s needs.

Common Workflows:

  • Simple Workflow: “To Do” → “In Progress” → “Done”.

  • Standard Software Development Workflow: “Backlog” → “Selected for Development” → “In Progress” → “In Review” → “Done”.

Custom Workflows:

  • Marketing Campaign Workflow: “Planning” → “Design” → “Execution” → “Analysis” → “Completed”.

  • Bug Tracking Workflow: “Open” → “In Progress” → “Code Review” → “Testing” → “Resolved”.

Custom workflows allow you to tailor the process specifically to your team’s needs, ensuring that all necessary steps are accounted for.

Jira has a solid number of default or predefined workflows. They are part of the project templates that come with Jira. But that’s not all we can do. We can change existing workflows and create new ones that fit our needs.

Default workflows

What are the components of a Jira workflow?

Understanding the components of a workflow is fundamental to utilizing the workflow editor effectively. The key components are:

  • Statuses: These are the various stages an issue can be in during its lifecycle, such as “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.”

  • Transitions: These are the movements between statuses, representing the change from one status to another.

  • Workflow Scheme: This maps workflows to specific issue types within a project, allowing for different processes for different types of work.

These components work together to create a workflow that reflects your team’s processes accurately.

Statuses and Transitions

Workflows consist of statuses and transitions. Transitions connect statuses and enable work items to move from one status to another in a controlled way.

transitions and statuses

In this very simple workflow, for example, there are three statuses: “to do,” “in progress,” and “done.” Besides statuses there are also transitions that let issues move from one status to another.

simple Jira workflow example

In a more complex workflow like this one, there are a few more statuses and transitions, as well as more rules about how to move from one status to another. For example, the only way to get to the ‘Done’ status is through the ‘Ready for QA’ status.

moderate Jira workflow example

Workflows can get really complicated, like the one below. There are no technical limits to complexity, but the efficiency of workflows with high complexity is questionable.

complex Jira workflow example

Other workflow elements, such as conditions, validators, properties, triggers, resolutions, and post-functions, give you even more control over when, how, and by whom a work item can move between statuses. 

workflow elements

Workflow Scheme

Jira developed the idea of a workflow scheme to offer a scalable solution for the following:

  1. Different issue types often have distinct workflows.

  2. Different issue types often use same workflows across numerous projects.

workflow, workflow scheme and projects

A workflow scheme is a set of relationships that link different issue types with specific workflows. In the diagram below, Workflow A, for instance, handles stories and bugs and includes steps for when an issue is in QA. Workflow B, which does not include QA steps, is responsible for handling tasks and epics.

A workflow scheme consists of one or more workflows and relationships between those workflows and various issue types. When we process a particular issue type, the associated workflow is activated.

workflow scheme

Before we can use a workflow, we have to add it to a scheme. A project must have been assigned a workflow scheme. A workflow can be part of more than one scheme, and a scheme can be linked to more than one project.

workflow scheme for multiple projects

Workflows Concepts

Jira workflows allow teams to specify the procedures needed to complete their work effectively. By defining and deploying workflows in Jira, teams can set up standardized processes for all the work they do. 

Workflows are not limited only to software development projects that use Scrum or Kanban frameworks. They can also handle processes like managing customer service requests, hiring new employees, managing content, planning events, and pretty much any process you can think of. 

workflow types

Workflows are one of Jira’s most effective features because they keep everyone informed of the steps needed to complete a particular type of work. They make it easier for team members to understand their responsibilities, upcoming tasks, and the current state of the work of their coworkers.

Workflows improve transparency, which naturally instills a sense of responsibility in the team. Healthy workflows provide teams with real-time insights into work progress, allowing them to be proactive in making decisions and preventing or minimizing delays or other disruptions to the efficient completion of the planned work.

workflows and progress

How to Create and Manage Workflows and Schemes in Jira

Creating and managing workflows in the workflow editor involves several steps:

  1. Creating a New Workflow:

    • Navigate to Jira settings > Issues > Workflows.

    • Click on “Add Workflow” to create a new workflow.

    • Define statuses and transitions for your new workflow. For example, adding a status “In Design” and a transition “Design Approved” can customize the workflow for a design team.

  2. Assigning Workflows to Workflow Schemes:

    • Workflow schemes map workflows to specific issue types within a project.

    • Navigate to Jira settings > Issues > Workflow schemes.

    • Click on “Add Workflow Scheme” to create a new workflow scheme.

    • Associate your new workflow with the appropriate issue types.

  3. Managing and Editing Existing Workflows:

    • Navigate to Jira settings > Issues > Workflows.

    • Select the workflow you want to edit and click “Edit”.

    • Modify statuses, transitions, and other properties as needed.

  4. Assigning Workflow Schemes to Projects:

    • Go to your project settings.

    • Select “Workflows” from the side menu.

    • Choose your desired workflow scheme from the list and assign it to the project.

Using these steps, you can create, edit, and manage workflows and workflow schemes that fit your team’s specific needs.

Benefits of Using Workflows in Jira

What Are the Benefits of Using Workflows in Jira?

Implementing workflows in Jira offers several benefits:

  • Enhanced Project Management and Tracking: Workflows provide a clear visual representation of the process, making it easier to track progress and identify bottlenecks.

  • Improved Team Collaboration and Communication: With well-defined workflows, team members know their responsibilities and the status of each task.

  • Increased Efficiency and Productivity: Automating transitions and using post functions (automated actions triggered during transitions) reduces manual work and ensures consistency.

Workflows also help in maintaining a standardized process, which is crucial for larger teams and multiple projects.

What Are the Common Challenges of Implementing Workflows and How to Solve Them?

While workflows are beneficial, there are common challenges in implementing them:

  1. Complex Processes:

    • Challenge: Complex processes can be difficult to map accurately.

    • Solution: Break down complex processes into smaller, manageable workflows and use sub-tasks to handle intricate details.

  2. User Resistance:

    • Challenge: Team members may resist new workflows due to unfamiliarity or perceived increased workload.

    • Solution: Provide training and involve users in the workflow design process to ensure the workflows meet their needs.

  3. Maintenance:

    • Challenge: Keeping workflows up-to-date can be time-consuming.

    • Solution: Review and update workflows regularly to reflect process changes. Use Jira administrators to manage this efficiently.

  4. Mapping to Workflow Schemes:

    • Challenge: Associating the correct workflow to the correct issue types can be tricky.

    • Solution: Clearly define the criteria for each issue type and test the workflow scheme before deploying it to the entire project.

By addressing these challenges, you can implement and maintain effective workflows that enhance your project management.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Jira Workflows

What is a workflow scheme in Jira?

A workflow scheme in Jira maps workflows to specific issue types within a project, allowing different types of issues to follow different workflows.

How do I add a new status to a workflow in Jira?

Navigate to Jira settings > Issues > Workflows, select the workflow you want to edit, click “Edit”, and then add the new status.

What is the difference between a status and a transition in Jira?

A status represents a stage in the issue lifecycle, while a transition is the movement between these statuses.

How can I customize a workflow in Jira?

You can customize a workflow by adding or removing statuses and transitions, configuring post functions, and associating it with specific issue types.

Can I use multiple workflows in a single project in Jira?

Yes, you can use multiple workflows in a single project by associating different workflows with different issue types through a workflow scheme.

How do I troubleshoot common workflow issues in Jira?

Identify the issue by reviewing the workflow configuration, checking for errors in transitions, and ensuring that all statuses and transitions are correctly mapped.

Conclusion

In conclusion, workflows are a powerful tool for enhancing your project management processes. By understanding the components of Jira workflows, creating custom workflows, and effectively managing them through workflow schemes, you can streamline your team’s processes and improve overall efficiency. Remember to address common challenges proactively and utilize the FAQ section to troubleshoot any issues.

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