What is a Cumulative Flow Diagram in Jira

Cumulative Flow Diagram in Jira is an invaluable tool that provides insights into the progress and efficiency of a team. Used extensively in Jira, a popular project management tool, the CFD helps visualize workflow bottlenecks, work in progress, and overall project trends. This blog post delves into the details of the Cumulative Flow Diagram, its uses, benefits, and how to interpret it effectively within Jira.

What is a Cumulative Flow Diagram?

A Cumulative Flow Diagram is a visual representation of the different stages of work items in a project over time. It showcases how tasks progress from one stage to another, allowing teams to monitor the flow of work and identify any issues that may arise. The key stages typically include To Do, In Progress, and Done, but they can be customized to fit the specific workflow of any team.

Components of a Cumulative Flow Diagram

  1. Time Axis (X-Axis): Represents the timeline of the project.
  2. Work Items Axis (Y-Axis): Represents the number of work items.
  3. Bands: Colored sections that represent different workflow stages. Each band indicates the number of tasks in a particular stage at any given time.

How to Read a Cumulative Flow Diagram

Interpreting a CFD involves understanding the changes in the width of the bands over time. Here’s a breakdown of what to look for:

  1. Stable Flow: Parallel bands indicate a stable workflow where tasks are moving smoothly through the stages.
  2. Bottlenecks: If a band widens significantly, it suggests a bottleneck in that stage. This means tasks are accumulating and not progressing as expected.
  3. Work in Progress (WIP): The vertical distance between the top and bottom of a band represents the number of tasks in that stage. Monitoring WIP helps in maintaining an optimal flow.
  4. Throughput: The rate at which tasks are completed. A higher throughput indicates better efficiency.

Uses of Cumulative Flow Diagram in Jira

  1. Identifying Bottlenecks: By analyzing the width of the bands, teams can pinpoint stages where tasks are getting stuck and take corrective actions.
  2. Monitoring Work in Progress: Keeping track of WIP helps prevent overloading team members and ensures a balanced workflow.
  3. Tracking Progress: CFD provides a clear visual of how tasks are progressing over time, aiding in accurate project forecasting and planning.
  4. Improving Process Efficiency: Continuous monitoring and analysis of the CFD can lead to process improvements and increased productivity.

Setting Up a Cumulative Flow Diagram in Jira

Jira makes it easy to generate and analyze CFDs. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Navigate to Your Project: Open the Jira project for which you want to create a CFD.
  2. Go to Reports: In the project sidebar, select the “Reports” option.
  3. Select Cumulative Flow Diagram: From the list of available reports, choose “Cumulative Flow Diagram.”
  4. Configure the Report: Select the relevant board, and adjust the time frame and other filters as needed.
  5. Generate the Diagram: Click on “Generate” to view the CFD for your project.

Case Study: Using CFD to Improve Workflow Efficiency

Consider a software development team facing delays in their project delivery. By analyzing their CFD, they notice a widening band in the “Code Review” stage. This indicates a bottleneck. The team decides to allocate more resources to the code review process, streamline review protocols, and set stricter deadlines for reviews. Over time, the CFD shows a reduced width in the code review band, indicating improved flow and faster project completion.

To explore more visit Jira documentation


1. What are the benefits of using a CFD in Jira?

  • CFDi provides clear visualization of project progress.
  • Helps identify bottlenecks and areas for process improvement.
  • Facilitates better resource allocation and workload management.

2. How often should a CFD be analyzed?

  • It’s advisable to review the CFD regularly, ideally at the end of each sprint or project milestone, to promptly address any issues.

3. Can CFDs be used for non-software projects?

  • Yes, CFDs are versatile and can be adapted to any project with defined workflow stages.

4. What are common pitfalls to avoid when using CFDs?

  • Ignoring bottlenecks and not taking corrective actions.
  • Overlooking the importance of balancing work in progress.
  • Failing to customize the stages according to the team’s specific workflow.

External Links for Further Reading


The Cumulative Flow Diagram is a powerful tool for visualizing and managing workflow efficiency in Jira. By providing insights into the progress of work items, identifying bottlenecks, and monitoring work in progress, CFDs help teams optimize their processes and improve project outcomes. Regular analysis and proactive management based on CFD insights can lead to significant improvements in productivity and project success.

Embrace the power of CFDs in your Jira projects to enhance visibility, control, and efficiency, ensuring your team delivers high-quality results consistently.

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