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Mastering Backlog Management with Enhanced Search Queries
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photo of Reece Smith, Product Marketing Manager for Enhanced Search
Reece Smith
5th October, 2023
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Mastering Backlog Management with Enhanced Search Queries

Ditch your unwieldy backlog once and for all with the help of these 5 advanced JQL functions from Enhanced Search.

We’re onto you…

Psst, we have something to tell you. We know you’re keeping a secret. An awful, despicable and shameful secret.
No, not that secret!
We’re talking, of course, about your unwieldy backlog!
We know because we were once like you.
We used to close the Jira board when anyone approached our desks. We’d change the conversation when anyone asked us about it. And we hoped that nobody would catch us lurking around in the deep, dark corners of that messy, multiplying backlog.
We made promise after promise: we would get it under control, we would sort it out. Not just for our sake but for the whole team.

Our backlog was a mess

We had to admit it: our backlog was a mess. But we were not at fault. Keeping on top of a backlog manually is an almost impossible task.
We were dealing with an overloaded backlog that we simply could not contain. Our team could not find the urgent and priority tasks among the overflowing backlog. There were irrelevant tasks still hanging around that should have been archived. Technical debt was piling up with inadequate tracking and prioritisation. Truth be told, the team had run amok in our backlog too, adding multiple tickets for the same task with ambiguous descriptions and linking them haphazardly, creating a web that was impossible to untangle!
But your promises will run empty no longer! Using the advanced JQL functions found in Enhanced Search, we’ll show you how you can tame even the most unwieldy backlogs to create a backlog you’re so proud of, you’ll want to share it far and wide!

Five JQL searches to tame your backlog

1. Overflowing backlog

Your backlog is overflowing, making it hard to identify urgent and high-priority issues.
Use a combination of inSprint and nextSprint functions with additional parameters to filter out low-priority or deferred issues.
1issueFunction in inSprint("EX Scrum Board", "Sprint 3") AND priority = "High" AND status != "Deferred"

2. Lack of prioritisation

Critical bugs are getting lost amid feature requests and low-priority tasks.
Combine dateCompare with issueType to focus on high-priority bugs nearing their deadlines.
1issueFunction in dateCompare("issueType = "Bug" AND priority >= "Critical"", "duedate < now() + 7d")
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3. Outdated items

Items that are no longer relevant are clogging up your backlog, but you're not sure which ones to archive.
Use dateCompare to find issues that haven't been updated in the last 30 days and are marked as 'To Be Reviewed'.
1issueFunction in dateCompare("status = "To Be Reviewed" AND labels NOT IN ("important", "urgent")", "updated < -30d")

4. Lack of clarity

Some backlog items have ambiguous descriptions, leading to multiple linked issues that are also unclear.
Use linkedIssuesOf with text matching to find issues that are blocked by or related to ambiguous issues.
1issueFunction in linkedIssuesOf("summary ~ 'TBD' OR description ~ 'TBD'", "blocks") AND status != "Done"

5. Accumulation of technical debt

Technical debt is piling up, but it's not being adequately tracked or prioritized.
Create a complex JQL query that tags technical debt items and also checks if they are linked to any current sprints.
1issueFunction in issueFieldMatch("linkedIssuesOf('Sprint in openSprints()', 'relates')", "labels", "technical-debt")

Keeping it clean

We recommend running these 5 clean-up steps every quarter to keep on top of your backlog. These steps use advanced JQL functions available from Enhanced Search. With these complex queries, you can tackle everything from overloaded backlogs to technical debt with ease!

Get started with Enhanced Search

Enhanced Search is available from the Atlassian Marketplace as a standalone app, or as part of a ScriptRunner for Jira license.