Beginner’s guide to Jira Administration – Part 3 (Workflows)

Hope you’ve already acquainted yourself with Issue type & issue type scheme management. Not yet? Quickly brush up your concepts from article 1 & 2 in this series.


One of the premium advantages of using Jira is its flexibility in configuration. And in large part, thanks to the robust workflow engine. Workflows are backbones of Jira issues.

Workflows allow the issues to follow a predefined path. Linear or nonlinear, up to you. e.g. you’d want a different path for a feature story than a bug . For example, story might need a status ‘Ready for grooming’ whereas the bug may not. A bug can be rejected but story cannot be. Hope you get the point!

Worry not, this will become more clear as we jump right in & explore how workflows work in Jira.

As a Jira admin, click on Settings –> Issues –> Workflows. Refer the images below.

Mind you, this is the list of global level workflows. Don’t confuse it with project level workflows. (Tip – if your browser url contains a project id/key, it is the project level workflows page.)

Workflows – Actions

On the workflows page, all active & inactive workflows are listed. Names of the workflows, their assigned schemes & available actions are visible.  Let us park the workflow schemes topic for the next article & focus on managing a workflow.


‘Add workflow’ button at the top right corner brings up a pop-up. Name of the workflow & description is defined here.

Click on ‘add’ and you land on the workflow creation page. One can create, edit, update the workflows in diagram or text mode. For this section, let us stick to the diagram mode as it is easier to visualise & explain.

Make sure you have checked ‘Show transition labels’ checkbox. You’d notice, as soon as the issue is created it goes into status ‘Open’.

Click on ‘Add status’ to create a new one or reuse an existing one. ‘Allow all statuses to transition to this one’ makes this status accessible from any other status in that workflow.

Choose a category that this status belongs to. Issue status categories are – To do, In Progress & Done. And Jira doesn’t allow these to be modified. These categories help elsewhere in Jira for classifying issues in different buckets. (Tip – You are free to have statuses with these names as well, no restriction on that.)

Add one or more transitions to the newly created status.

You can add a new transition or reuse an existing one. While adding/reusing the transition, don’t worry about the screen dropdown. We will discuss ‘screens’ in a later article.

Once the transition is created, this is how workflow would look.

Follow similar steps & create more relevant statuses & transitions. The final workflow diagram will be similar to the one below.


Clicking edit on any of the workflow from list view, brings you to the same screen as adding a new workflow. Though, with an existing workflow.


Delete action is available on workflows only when it is not associated with any scheme.


You can copy an existing workflow and then make changes to it. This way, none of your changes will affect any projects/issues if the original workflow is assigned to one.

Pro-tip: Ensure that a new workflow is created only when necessary. If possible, reuse one. This will save you a lot of time from housekeeping, when number of projects increase on your Jira.


There is a lot we could have discussed here. Such as transition properties, validators, post functions etc. But that falls under advanced Jira administration, which we will cover later on.

Roll up your sleeves & create a few workflows. Feel free to post your questions in the comments below.

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