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How to organise a product backlog in JIRA Software

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February 26, 2016

Managing your product backlog in JIRA

As the product owner of a development team, keeping a product backlog organised and prioritised is a crucial task, as this ensures that the development team is always looking at the latest version of the product roadmap. In this blog we’ll discuss how to organise a product backlog in JIRA Software.

What is a product backlog?

The product backlog comprises an ordered list of requirements that a scrum team maintains for a product. It consists of features, bug fixes, non-functional requirements and so on — whatever must be done to successfully deliver a viable product. The product owner orders the product backlog items (PBIs) based on considerations such as risk, business value, dependencies, and date needed. (reference)

Usually, a development team will start with a small product backlog that contains requirements gathered from various business stakeholders. As soon as the product is released to external users/customers, the amount of features, requirements and bug requests from different channels will increase. The product owner then has to filter and order them based on different variables like business value, or whether the development team can or cannot fix it.

In order to organise a product backlog in JIRA, you need to take the following steps:


An example of a backlog in JIRA Software that contains 52 issues of different types (Story, Bug etc.)

Finding the unwanted tickets

Using issue navigator, you can navigate through all the tickets related to one or several projects in JIRA and create filters.

In this example, a product owner wants to remove two tickets of type initiative from the backlog because they are either not possible or not a priority for the time being.


Does that actually mean deleting the tickets entirely from JIRA ?

Of course not – the idea is to keep the tickets archived in specific order so they can be easily re-visited if needed. (Tip: if the ticket age is older then a quarter or year, it can be deleted entirely to better organise the project.)

How do I do this?

There are numerous options to do this, which I’ll list here so you can choose what’s best for you:

  • Create different resolution/s for your project and close all tickets with the specific resolution. An example of a resolution could be “not possible, need more information, not important now.”
  • Create a label with a specific name. An example of a label could be “icebox, under plan” etc.
  • Create a component or custom field and use the resolution and label approach above.

Whatever option you choose, the idea is to keep those unwanted tickets away from the backlog and flag them with a specific value and to simplify searching for them in the future.

For the rest of this blog, I will use the label field option.

Flag the tickets

A product owner selected two tickets from the initiatives tickets and updated their labels with specific values, as shown below :


Ticket 1: set not possible in the label field


Ticket 2: set not priority in the label field

Tip : You can use bulk operation to edit multiple issues at once. Also, the label field is case sensitive and doesn’t allow space –  you have to replace the space with an underscore.

Update Backlog Filter

You will have to update the filter used in the backlog – this will effect the data shown. Here’s how to do it:


Click on Configure under Board (Only the administrator of a board or JIRA administrators can do this).


Click on Edit Filter Query


Update the query to show only the tickets with empty labels.

Tip: Make the query more specific by writing the exact label value to avoid missing other labels. query example: “labels not in (maybe_in_future,not_possible)”

After saving the filter and returning to the backlog, you will find it has been updated. (In this example, the number of issues has been reduced from 52 to 50).


Congratulations! You just learned how to organise a product backlog in JIRA and archive tickets for future reference.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful – if you have any questions please leave them in the comments section.