How to set up custom Jira workflows to manage software development

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By PeterLogan

Learn how to use Jira for workflow configuration and to improve your team’s programming efficiency.

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What is Jira?

Although originally intended as a bug tracker for the user, Atlassian’s Jira evolved over time to become the software development project manager of the enterprise.

There are many reasons that Jira is so popular, including its central role in Atlassian’s larger DevSecOps Toolchain and the large number of plugins available via Atlassian’s Marketplace. Jira’s flexible workflow management allows teams to adapt Jira to their workstream to accommodate the flow of value. This allows them to modify the way they work to make Jira work for them.

What is a workflow?

A workflow is a way to define the status of tasks as they move through software development. Jira offers a simple three-step workflow. This is how you might imagine your work flow if you were creating a mobile ordering app for quick-service restaurants and needed to add the ability to take credit card payments.

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The requirements would be written by the product owner. Once it was complete, the task of implementing this feature would be placed in To Do. The developer would then begin work on the feature, marking it In Progress. After she finishes that work, the build is handed to a tester. If all goes well, the tester assigns the task as Done.

Jira gives visibility to all stakeholders throughout the process. This allows project managers to monitor schedules and budgets.

How software is developed?

Software development isn’t a linear process. Software development is a continuous process that has stops and starts. It often requires repeating steps until it achieves the desired result. Our simple workflow does not flow from left-to-right. This is a more realistic illustration of how tasks flow through even the most basic Jira workflows.

Before we dive into the details of creating a Jira workflow, it is important to understand the core components of a workflow.

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This shows the current status of a specific work item. A task can be either In Progress, To Do or Done according to our simple workflow.


These are actions that can be taken to move a task to another state. In this example, the act that assigns something in the To Do status to a developer could make it In Progress.


A task must be resolved when it is completed. Resolution is the final state of an item of work. It is considered closed or final. This is the simplest workflow. However, in more complex workflows, there may be other options such as Canceled and Published.

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Most software teams using Jira today for project management use agile development to manage their projects. This means that the majority of software teams today are using Jira for project management. The team often works from a board, usually kanban or scrum. As you can see, Jira workflows correspond to your boards.