Jira Prioritization 101

Jira Prioritization lets teams focus on critical and high-impact items first, ensuring that urgent problems are addressed promptly.

Read further on to know more about tailoring the prioritization process to suit your specific project requirements and ensure smooth progress towards project goals.

What are Jira priorities?

Jira priorities refer to the predefined levels or rankings assigned to issues within the Jira project management tool. Priorities help in categorizing and organizing tasks based on their importance and urgency. Jira provides a set of built-in priority levels, such as Highest, High, Medium, Low, and Lowest. These Jira priority levels serve as a guide for teams to understand the relative significance of different issues and determine the order in which they should be addressed.

  • Critical priorities are time-sensitive and high value. These include tasks dealing with crises or strict client deadlines.
  • High value tasks that are not time sensitive should be considered high priorities. These are tasks that involve thinking, planning, and collaboration. For example, when a critical bug is identified that affects the functionality, stability, or security of the software, it is typically considered a high priority. Resolving these issues promptly is crucial to maintain the integrity of the product.
  • Medium priorities can be time sensitive but not high in value. Meetings, email communications, and project organizing can fall into this category. Responding to emails and communicating with stakeholders is essential for effective project management and maintaining good relationships. While certain emails may require timely responses, they may not always be high in value compared to critical development or debugging tasks.
  • Low priority projects and tasks are not time sensitive and do not have high value. You can push these priorities later in the week or drop them entirely. Feature requests that are not critical or time-sensitive and do not align with the project’s immediate goals or roadmap can be categorized as low priority. These requests can be evaluated and scheduled for future releases based on their value and alignment with the project’s overall vision.

Jira priorities are crucial in various aspects of project management, such as planning, resource allocation, and decision-making. They help teams identify and address critical issues promptly, ensuring that important work isn’t overlooked. By utilizing Jira priorities, teams can streamline their processes, improve efficiency, and stay aligned with project goals and objectives. This can help in making an appropriate Jira roadmap and effective workflow.

How to prioritize Jira issues?

Prioritizing Jira issues is an essential step in effective project management. Remember that Jira best practices can be tailored to your team’s specific needs and workflows.

Here are some steps to help you prioritize issues in Jira:

  1. Define your prioritization criteria: Start by establishing the factors that will guide your prioritization process. Consider aspects such as business value, urgency, effort required, dependencies, and stakeholder input. Clearly define and document your prioritization criteria to ensure consistency.
  2. Evaluate and rank issues: Assess each issue based on your prioritization criteria. Consider the impact it will have on the project, the urgency of resolving it, and any dependencies it may have. Rank the issues accordingly, starting from the highest priority to the lowest.
  3. Utilize Jira’s priority field: In Jira, use the built-in priority field to assign the appropriate priority level to each issue. Select the priority level that aligns with the rank you assigned during evaluation. Jira’s priority field allows you to categorize and sort issues based on their importance.
  4. Re-evaluate and adjust priorities: Regularly review and reassess the priorities of your issues as the project progresses. New information or changes in project circumstances may require you to reprioritize certain issues. Stay flexible and adjust priorities accordingly to adapt to evolving project needs. Re-evaluating and adjusting priorities should be done throughout the project lifecycle to ensure that resources are allocated effectively and that the project remains aligned with its goals. Here are some ways about how to re-evaluate and adjust priorities:
    1. Regularly Scheduled Reviews
    2. Milestone or Sprint Reviews
    3. New Information or Changes
    4. Collaborative Discussions
  5. Communicate and collaborate: Prioritization is a collaborative effort. Ensure that stakeholders and team members are involved in the process. Seek input and feedback from relevant parties to gain different perspectives and ensure alignment on issue prioritization.

Remember that prioritization is an ongoing process. Continuously monitor and review the prioritization of issues as new tasks arise and project circumstances change. By effectively prioritizing Jira issues, you can optimize your workflow, address critical tasks promptly, and keep your project on track.

Jira Features for Prioritization

Jira offers several useful features for prioritization that can help teams effectively manage their projects. Some of the most valuable features include:

Priority Field

Jira provides a built-in priority field that allows you to assign a priority level to each issue. This field helps categorize and sort issues based on their importance and urgency, enabling teams to focus on the most critical tasks.

Rank Field

Jira’s rank field enables you to establish the order of issues within a project or a specific issue type. By manually adjusting the rank of issues, you can prioritize them based on their relative importance or sequencing requirements.

Agile Boards

Jira’s Agile boards, such as Scrum or Kanban boards, provide visual representations of your project’s tasks you are working on.

Customizable Workflows

Jira allows you to create custom workflows that reflect your team’s specific processes and stages. By defining workflow statuses and transitions, you can establish prioritization rules and ensure that work progresses through the appropriate stages based on its priority. In Jira, you can create custom workflows to reflect your team’s processes.

  • Define workflow statuses and transitions to establish prioritization rules.
  • Customize the workflow to match your team’s needs, set conditions or validators for transitions, and configure properties.
  • Publish and apply the workflow to ensure work progresses through stages based on priority.

This allows for a structured and tailored approach to prioritizing and managing tasks in Jira.

Filters and Search

Jira’s advanced filtering and search capabilities enable you to create custom queries to identify and prioritize specific sets of issues. You can filter issues based on priority, assignee, due date, and other criteria to focus on tasks that require immediate attention. To use Jira’s advanced filtering and search features for prioritizing tasks, follow these steps:

  • Open the search bar in Jira.
  • Define the filter criteria using Jira Query Language (JQL).
  • Build the query with conditions like priority, assignee, due date, status, etc.
  • Refine the query by adding more criteria or modifying existing ones.
  • Save the query as a filter for future use.
  • Apply the filter to instantly see the filtered results.
  • Customize columns and sorting for better visibility.
  • Save and share the results with team members if needed.

By utilizing Jira’s filtering and search capabilities, you can create custom queries to identify and prioritize specific sets of issues, helping you focus on tasks that require immediate attention.

JQL search based on priority in Jira

Agile Estimation

Jira supports agile estimation techniques like time-based estimates. By assigning estimates to issues, you can prioritize tasks based on their complexity or effort required, helping you allocate resources effectively. You can learn more about Story Points from this guide.

Integration with Confluence

Confluence, Atlassian’s collaborative documentation platform, integrates seamlessly with Jira. This integration allows you to document and share prioritization decisions, rationales, and guidelines, ensuring transparency and facilitating collaboration among team members.

Jira seamlessly integrates with Confluence, enabling you to document and share prioritization decisions, guidelines, and rationales. For example, during a prioritization meeting, the team can document outcomes on a Confluence page. Prioritization guidelines can be created to maintain consistency, and prioritization decisions made in Jira can automatically update a Confluence page. Collaborative discussions and documentation of changes ensure transparency and alignment among team members. And the app already has several pre-made templates you can use like this prioritization matrix.

Jira Apps and Add-ons

Jira’s extensive marketplace offers various apps and add-ons that enhance prioritization capabilities. These extensions provide additional features like prioritization matrices, scoring frameworks, or advanced reporting, enabling teams to fine-tune their prioritization processes. By leveraging these features, teams can streamline their prioritization efforts, ensure important tasks are addressed promptly, and maintain transparency and alignment throughout the project lifecycle.

Smart Checklist for Jira

Can there be a prioritization framework?

Yes, there can be a prioritization framework that helps guide and structure the process of prioritization. A prioritization framework provides a set of guidelines, principles, and criteria for evaluating and ranking tasks or issues. It helps teams make consistent and informed decisions when determining the order in which work should be addressed. Some commonly used prioritization frameworks include:

  1. MoSCoW: This framework categorizes tasks as Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have. It helps prioritize work based on critical requirements and allows for better resource allocation. For example, in an e-commerce website project, a Must-Have requirement could be adding items to the shopping cart, while a Should-Have requirement could be implementing user reviews. Could-Have requirements, like social media sharing, are desirable but not necessary, and Won’t-Have requirements, such as a loyalty rewards program, are explicitly excluded from the current project scope. This prioritization framework ensures critical functionality is delivered first while allowing flexibility for lower priority features.
  2. Weighted Scoring: Assigning weighted scores to different criteria (e.g., business value, effort, risk) helps quantify the importance of each task. The total score determines the priority order.
  3. Value vs. Complexity: This framework assesses the value of a task against its complexity. High-value, low-complexity tasks are prioritized first, while low-value, high-complexity tasks are deprioritized. The Value vs. Complexity framework prioritizes tasks based on their value and complexity. For example, in a CRM software development project, implementing basic contact management (Task A) would have higher priority due to its high value and manageable complexity. Adding advanced data analytics (Task B) may have lower priority due to its higher complexity and potential deferral for the initial release. This framework ensures valuable features are addressed first while considering the complexity of implementation.
  4. Cost of Delay: This framework considers the impact of delaying a task on the overall project. Tasks with high potential cost of delay are given higher priority. The Cost of Delay framework prioritizes tasks based on the impact of delaying them on the overall project. For example, addressing critical security vulnerabilities would have a higher priority due to the potential costs associated with delaying their resolution.
  5. Kano Model: This model categorizes tasks based on customer satisfaction. It prioritizes tasks that result in higher customer satisfaction or eliminate pain points.
    The choice of a prioritization framework depends on the project’s specific needs, team dynamics, and stakeholder requirements. It is important to select a framework that aligns with the project goals and allows for flexibility and adaptability as the project progresses.
  6. RICE Framework: Based on their potential effect, effort needed, confidence level, and reach, projects or initiatives are prioritized using the RICE prioritization framework. Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort are abbreviated as RICE. With the help of this framework, businesses may allocate resources wisely and concentrate on initiatives with the best chances of success.

How to customize built-in Jira Priorities?

To customize the built-in priorities in Jira, you can follow some really easy steps:

  1. Access Jira Admin Panel: Log in to Jira with administrative privileges and navigate to the Jira Administration panel.
  2. Navigate to Priorities: In the Administration panel, find and click on “Issues” or “System” (depending on your Jira version) and then select “Priorities.”
  3. Edit or Create Priorities: In the Priorities settings, you will see the list of existing priorities. To edit a priority, click on the pencil icon next to it. To create a new priority, click on the “Add Priority” or “Create Priority” button.
  4. Customize Priority Details: In the edit or create form, you can customize various details for the priority:
  5. Name: Modify the name of the priority to reflect your desired label (e.g., change “Highest” to “Critical”).
  6. Description: Provide a brief description to convey the meaning or significance of the priority level.
  7. Icon: Choose an icon that visually represents the priority level. Jira provides a set of default icons, but you can also upload custom icons if desired.
  8. Save Changes: After making the necessary modifications, click on the “Save” or “Update” button to save your changes.
  9. Test and Apply Custom Priorities: Once saved, the custom priorities will be available for selection when assigning priorities to issues. You can apply the custom priorities to issues by editing the issue details and selecting the appropriate priority level.
Jira priorities page

By customizing the built-in priorities in Jira, you can tailor them to better align with your project’s specific requirements and terminology. Custom priorities can improve clarity and make the prioritization process more meaningful and relevant to your team.


Jira dashboards and reporting can provide valuable insights and aid in prioritization by offering visualizations and data-driven information. Here’s how Jira dashboards and reporting can help:

  • Visualizing Project Status: Jira dashboards allow you to create customized views that display key project metrics, issue statuses, and progress charts. By having a visual representation of your project’s status, you can quickly assess the overall health of the project, identify bottlenecks, and prioritize tasks accordingly.
  • Prioritization at a Glance: Dashboards can be configured to display a prioritized list of issues based on their priority, due date, or other relevant criteria. This gives you a clear overview of the most critical and urgent tasks, enabling you to make informed decisions about where to focus your efforts.
  • Agile Boards Integration: Jira dashboards seamlessly integrate with Agile boards (Scrum or Kanban), providing an overview of the project’s task boards, including swimlanes, columns, and issue cards. This integration allows you to visualize and prioritize work items based on their position on the board and their progress.
  • Custom Reporting: Jira offers robust reporting capabilities that allow you to generate custom reports and gain insights into your project’s performance, progress, and priority-based metrics. You can create reports that focus on specific issue types, priorities, or other criteria to analyze trends and make data-driven decisions.
  • Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Dashboards and reporting provide a centralized location to monitor and track project KPIs, such as cycle time, backlog size, or team velocity. These metrics can help you identify areas that require attention and guide prioritization efforts to optimize project outcomes.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Dashboards and reports can be shared with stakeholders to provide visibility into project progress, issue prioritization, and overall status. This promotes transparency, aligns expectations, and enables collaborative decision-making.
  • Historical Analysis: Jira reporting allows you to analyze historical data and trends. By examining past prioritization decisions and their impact on project outcomes, you can refine your prioritization approach and make informed choices for future tasks.

By leveraging Jira dashboards and reporting, teams gain a comprehensive understanding of their projects, make data-driven prioritization decisions, and communicate effectively with stakeholders. These tools provide the necessary visibility and insights to ensure that the most important work is given proper attention and alignment with project goals.

Common Bad Habits

In Jira, some common bad habits include:

  1. Overloading a single priority level: Sometimes, teams may assign all issues as the highest priority, leading to a lack of differentiation and an overloaded workload. It is important to distribute issues across different priority levels based on their actual importance and urgency.
  2. Neglecting to re-evaluate priorities: Priorities can change as project circumstances evolve or new information becomes available. Failing to regularly review and reassess priorities can lead to outdated or misaligned prioritization, causing delays and inefficiencies.
  3. Ignoring stakeholder input: Prioritization should involve collaboration and input from stakeholders. Neglecting to consider their perspectives and needs can result in misaligned priorities and diminished project success.


Jira is a go-to option for project managers as it offers the right amount of customization, flexibility, and quality-of-life elements for teams. It offers a wide variety of tools and options for customization. That being said, these tools are not a magic wand so the whole operation is highly dependent on your input.

Everything is simpler when the process is well-documented and the progress is visible at a glance.

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