Let me start by saying I'm a developer, not a PM - so I'm potentially misunderstanding some fundamentals here. Apologies if so.

I have created a jira project, I believe kanban made sense (we need the board with swim lanes). The problem is that I think I may have also needed the notion of sprints.

I am about to pump jira full of epics, tasks and bugs. Ideally, I don't want them all in the 'to do' lane since, I'd like there to be a backlog too - before items even get to the kanban board.


Must all items be visible on the kanban board or is there a backlog that can be used somehow too?

4 Answers 4


This design decision will strongly depend on how many tickets you want to handle and how many tickets you consider as part of your backlog. Use Jira filters to define specifically what you want to present.

A Kanban board (with or without backlog) should be based on the specific set of items you want to cover, rather than based on all and every single ticket you have. Some tickets may be ok to be there, some requires more "refinement" to be part of this board.

To achieve this result, you can do several filters, depending on how customised is your Jira instance. You can only show in your Kanban the items that belong to a specific component, or a specific release. This way, you have your "backlog" as all items not appearing on the Kanban board.

Let's assume all items you work with are part of a given Epic (and the Epic prioritisation is then aligned with your client). Then you can have in your kanban filter to only cover items that are part of an Epic In Progress.

This way, you plan at a high level on a Epic only board with senior management and have your team only focusing on the Epics prioritised by senior management (i.e. only items where the linked Epic is in progress).


I guess you already may use your Kanban board to contain the backlog tasks. First way: customize the task priority field, creating for example a category 'backlog' https://kanbantool.com/support/kanban-card#is-it-possible-to-have-customizable-priority-field . Then you may sort the cards to put these cards at the bottom. Second: You may create a new column 'backlog' which you normally minimize and you can't see these tasks on the actual board. Third: personally, I often block a task https://kanbantool.com/support/kanban-card#what-does-it-mean-to-block-a-task when I know I may not work at it in this moment. And then, as in the fisrt proposition, you sort your cards, having the active ones above.


In Jira, the ToDo column of a kanban board is the backlog, so naturally it shows everything.

However, not everything is lost. The kanban and scrum boards are essentially a view on the Jira project that contains the actual epics, tasks, bugs and other kinds of tickets. This means that you can just create a new scrum board for the project and then you can get your notion of sprints and a separate backlog. On a scrum board, the ToDo column also only shows the tickets that have been allocated to the current (active) sprint.

  • Thanks very much for the reply Bart! Very close to ditching jira here, though. I've just discovered in the next-gen boards there is no support for ordering by priority or even displaying priority. Hugely disappointed. Although I guess that's off-topic. Thanks again for your reply. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 11:28
  • In JIRA the ToDo column is only the backlog when you are using a Kanban board. If you are using a Scrum board the ToDo column shows items that have been allocated to the sprint (i.e. the 'sprint backlog'). It might be worth clarifying that in this answer? Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 9:50

In jira, am I approaching kanban wrong?

yes. Kanban is flow based agile approach, which uses just-in-time (JIT) methodology.

I am about to pump jira full of epics, tasks and bugs.

Besides just-in-time and just-enough approach to all kind of documentation, I suggest you to read about Zero Bug Policy here or here.

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