10X: Prioritize/Rank Work Items in the Backlog

A ranked backlog helps teams prioritize their work. The most important work items are at the top of the list, while less important work is lower. When new work is added to the backlog, it should be put at the appropriately ranked position so that the team knows what work to start next. Typically, ranking is performed by the members of the product management team. Ranking can be performed in the backlog's List View. 

Work items have several different, independent ranks, depending on what’s selected on the Configuration bar:

  • Global rank: an item’s rank relative to all work items of its type (for example, epics or features). This is the default ranking level when nothing is specified in the Configuration bar.
  • Global-PI rank:  an item’s rank relative to all work items of its type (for example, epics or features) within a specified program increment
  • Portfolio rank: an item’s rank relative to work items of its type within a specified portfolio
  • Portfolio-PI rank: an item’s rank relative to work items of its type within a specified portfolio and during a specified PI
  • Program rank: an item’s rank relative to work items of its type within a specified program
  • Program-PI rank: an item’s rank relative to work items of its type within a specified program and during a specified PI
  • Team-Sprint rank: an item’s rank relative to work items of its type being worked on by a team during a specified sprint

Manual Ranking

Work items in a backlog list can be ranked manually using a simple drag-and-drop method:

  1. In the backlog list, identify the work item you want to rank. 
  2. Click the item, and then drag and drop it to the desired location in the list. 
  3. Repeat as needed to complete stack ranking. 

Note: The expanded lists of child items in a backlog is a separate ranking from the backlog of the child items’ work item type. For example, the list of child features in the Epic backlog can be ranked without affecting the ranks of the same features in the Feature backlog. Use this ranking to compare and prioritize child work items relative to each other, within their parent epic.

Auto Ranking

Stories, features, epics, and capabilities can also be ranked automatically, inheriting the rank from a parent work item in the backlog hierarchy. For example, once all epics have been ranked, the child capabilities or features can inherit the rank of their parent epics. Similarly, features that have been ranked can pass the rank down to their child stories.

Important: This option is available only if you have a program and a PI selected on the Configuration bar. For the theme backlog, only global ranking will apply with the portfolio selected on the Configuration bar. Additionally, you can select a solution, which is a collection of programs, and perform ranking of epics, capabilities, or features within a solution.

To automatically apply rankings:

  1. In the backlog list, click Pull Rank
  2. From the drop-down menu, select the appropriate ranking option; for example, Use Epic (Program Increment Level) rank to sort Features or Use Feature (Program Increment Level) rank to sort Stories. The work items will automatically prioritize in the list.
  3. Click Yes to see the preview of the ranking, and then click Apply to apply it.

Note: A feature may have multiple stories that inherit its rank, just as multiple features may inherit the rank of a parent epic. Therefore, further manual ranking may be required when bulk work items inherit a parent rank (for example, you cannot have 5 work items ranked 1, so they must be manually ranked 1 through 5.)

To rank work items based on a specific column selection:

  1. Click Columns Shown, and then go to the necessary tab.
  2. Select the columns you want to view in your backlog, and then click Save.
  3. Click the column’s header to rank the items based on the selected column’s values. Clicking the header once will rank items in descending order (highest values first); clicking again will rank items in ascending order (lowest values first).
  4. In the lower-right corner, click Apply to apply your ranking.

Note: Custom field columns of a multi drop-down menu type cannot be sorted.

Ranking To and From External Systems

If you’re using the Jira connector to integrate Jira Software with Jira Align, you can manually synchronize the backlog rankings for features and stories (Jira Software epics and stories, respectively). This option only displays inside of feature and story backlogs, when a program is selected in the Configuration bar, and no PIs are selected.

To update the current list view in Jira Align with the ranking from Jira Software, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Backlog, select a program in the Configuration bar and set the Configuration bar PI to All (symbolized by a plus sign in the Configuration bar for PI).
  2. In the backlog list of features or stories, click Pull Rank
  3. From the drop-down menu, select the Pull rank from the External System.
  4.  In the confirmation modal, click Yes to create a job for the connector to update the rank in Jira Align.

Follow these steps to update the backlog view in Jira Software with the ranking from Jira Align:

  1. Navigate to the Backlog, select a program in the Configuration bar, and set the Configuration bar PI to All (symbolized by a plus sign in the context menu for PI).
  2. In the backlog list of features or stories, click Pull Rank
  3. From the drop-down menu, select the Push rank to External System.

 In the confirmation modal, click Yes to create a job for the connector to update the rank in Jira Software.

Notes: The Push and Pull Rank will sync the General Program Rank, which is the ranking set in the Backlog when there is a program selected and PI is set to All in the Configuration bar. The current General Program Rank can be verified by exporting work items from the Story or Feature Grids.

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