Jira Workflows and Schemes — How to Use Them in Your Projects

Published: November 23, 2022

Jira Workflows Concepts

Jira workflows allow teams to define the processes required to do their work efficiently. By defining and deploying workflows in Jira, teams can establish standardized processes for all the work a team is doing. Workflows are usually associated with software development projects using Scrum or Kanban frameworks, but they can actually handle other scopes of activities such as customer service tickets management, recruitment, content management, event planning and pretty much any process imaginable. Workflows keep everyone aligned with the steps required to process a specific type of work, and that is one of the main reasons workflows are one of Jira’s most powerful features.

workflow types

Workflows in Jira ensure each team member understands what they are expected to do and sees the upcoming work and everyone else’s work status.

Workflows are defined globally and then associated with particular projects and specific issue types.

workflows and projects

Workflows enhance transparency which naturally creates a sense of responsibility for the core team. Healthy workflows ensure real-time insights into the progression of work and enable teams to be proactive in making decisions and prevent or minimize delays or other disturbances to efficient completion of the planned work.

workflows and progress

Workflow Statuses and Transitions

Workflows are made of statuses and transitions. Transitions connect statuses and allow work items to move from one status to another in a controlled manner.

transitions and statuses

For example, in this very simple workflow, there are three statuses, “to do,” “in progress,” and “done,” and transitions that allow issues to move from any status to any other status.

simple Jira workflow example

In a more complex workflow like this one, there are a few more statuses and transitions, including more constraints regarding moving from one status to another. For example, the only way to get to Done status is through Ready for QA status.

moderate Jira workflow example

Workflows can become really complex, like this one, for example. However, although there are no technical limitations for creating something like this, the efficiency of a workflow this complex can be questioned.

complex Jira workflow example

Furthermore, other workflow elements like conditions, validators, properties, triggers, resolutions, post-functions provide even more granular control of when and how a work item can transition between statuses and who can initiate that.

workflow elements

Jira provides a fair number of predefined workflows included in various project templates that come with Jira instance. But we are not limited to that, and we can customize existing workflows and create new ones that suit our needs.

Workflow Schemes

That is all great, but we didn’t say anything about how workflows are associated with projects. The concept of association between workflows and projects has been established to address two objectives. First different issue types often have different workflows, and second, allocation of different workflows to different issue types is often the same across several projects. In order to provide a scalable solution for these two objectives, Jira established the concept of a workflow scheme.

workflow, workflow scheme and projects

A workflow scheme is a set of associations that link different issue types with specific workflows. For example, stories and bugs are processed using workflow A which includes steps when an issue is in QA, while task and epics are processed using workflow B, which does not include QA steps.

A workflow scheme includes one or more workflows and definitions of how those workflows are linked to different issue types. When you handle a particular issue type, the relevant workflow is activated.

workflow scheme

Before a workflow can be used, it must be added to a workflow scheme, which must be associated with a project. A workflow can be included in multiple workflow schemes, and a workflow scheme can be associated with one or more projects in Jira.

workflow scheme for multiple projects

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