What is Jira swimlane and how do you create them

Jira, developed by Atlassian, is a powerful tool for project management and issue tracking. One of its most useful features for organizing and visualizing work is the swimlane. This guide will delve into what Jira swimlanes are, their uses, how to create them, and provide answers to frequently asked questions.

What is Jira Swimlane?

Swimlanes in Jira are horizontal rows in a board that help to group and categorize issues for better visual management. They can be used to segment tasks by assignee, priority, project phase, or any other criteria that suit your workflow. This organization method enhances the clarity and efficiency of tracking progress across different teams or project components.

Uses of Jira Swimlane

Swimlanes offer a multitude of benefits, making them an essential part of effective project management in Jira:

  1. Improved Visibility: By categorizing tasks into different swimlanes, teams can easily see the status and progress of various tasks at a glance.
  2. Enhanced Focus: Swimlanes help teams to focus on specific segments of work, reducing distractions and increasing productivity.
  3. Efficient Prioritization: Teams can prioritize tasks better by visualizing them in distinct categories, ensuring high-priority items receive the attention they need.
  4. Facilitated Collaboration: Swimlanes provide a clear framework for collaboration, enabling teams to work more cohesively and effectively.
  5. Streamlined Workflow Management: They help in managing workflows by breaking down complex projects into manageable segments.

How to Create a Swimlane in Jira

Creating swimlanes in Jira is straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Access Your Jira Board

  1. Log in to your Jira account.
  2. Navigate to the project where you want to create swimlanes.
  3. Go to the board where you want to add swimlanes. This could be a Scrum board or a Kanban board.

Step 2: Open Board Settings

  1. Click on the Board dropdown in the top-right corner of your board.
  2. Select Configure from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: Configure Swimlanes

  1. In the Board Settings menu, select the Swimlanes tab from the left-hand sidebar.
  2. You will see options to create swimlanes based on different criteria.

Step 4: Choose a Swimlane Type

Jira offers several types of swimlanes:

  • Queries: Create swimlanes based on JQL (Jira Query Language) queries. This is highly customizable.
  • Stories: Group issues by stories, with each story getting its swimlane.
  • Assignees: Create swimlanes based on who the issues are assigned to.
  • Epics: Group issues by epics.
  • Projects: Separate issues by different projects.

Step 5: Add Swimlanes

  1. Select your preferred swimlane type.
  2. For Queries:
    • Click Add Query.
    • Enter a Name for the swimlane.
    • Write a JQL query that defines which issues belong in this swimlane.
    • Click Add.
  3. For other types, Jira will automatically generate swimlanes based on the selected criteria.

Step 6: Save and View Your Swimlanes

  1. After adding the swimlanes, click Save.
  2. Go back to your board to view the newly created swimlanes.

Best Practices for Using Jira Swimlane

To get the most out of Jira swimlanes, consider the following best practices:

  1. Keep It Simple: Don’t overcomplicate your board with too many swimlanes. Use them to highlight key areas of focus.
  2. Regularly Update Swimlanes: Ensure that your swimlanes reflect current priorities and statuses. Regular updates help maintain their effectiveness.
  3. Use Clear Naming Conventions: Make sure the names of your swimlanes clearly indicate their purpose. This makes it easier for team members to understand and use them.
  4. Leverage JQL: For advanced users, utilizing JQL can create highly customized swimlanes tailored to specific needs and criteria.
  5. Align with Workflow: Ensure that the swimlanes align with your project’s workflow stages for a more intuitive process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are Jira Swimlanes used for?

Jira swimlanes are used to categorize and visualize tasks within a board, enhancing visibility, focus, prioritization, collaboration, and workflow management.

2. How do I create swimlanes in Jira?

To create swimlanes, navigate to your board’s settings, select the Swimlanes tab, choose a swimlane type, add your swimlanes, and save the changes.

3. Can I customize swimlanes in Jira?

Yes, swimlanes can be customized using JQL queries to fit specific criteria and needs of the project.

4. What types of swimlanes can I create in Jira?

You can create swimlanes based on queries (JQL), stories, assignees, epics, and projects.

5. How do I delete a swimlane in Jira?

To delete a swimlane, go to Board Settings > Swimlanes, find the swimlane you want to remove, and click the delete icon next to it.

6. Can swimlanes be used in both Scrum and Kanban boards?

Yes, swimlanes can be used in both Scrum and Kanban boards to organize and manage tasks effectively.

7. How do swimlanes help in project management?

Swimlanes help in project management by providing a clear visual categorization of tasks, improving focus, prioritization, and collaboration among team members.

8. Are there any limitations to using swimlanes in Jira?

While swimlanes are highly useful, too many can clutter your board. It’s important to use them judiciously to avoid confusion.

9. Can swimlanes be shared across different boards?

Swimlanes are configured per board and do not automatically share configurations across different boards.

10. Do swimlanes affect how issues are displayed in Jira reports?

Swimlanes are a visual organization tool for boards and do not affect how issues are displayed in Jira’s built-in reports.

Additional Resources

For further reading and more advanced tips, consider visiting these resources:


Swimlanes in Jira are a powerful feature that can significantly enhance the way you manage and visualize your projects. By organizing tasks into meaningful categories, you can improve clarity, focus, and efficiency in your workflows. Whether you are a project manager, team lead, or developer, mastering the use of swimlanes will help you and your team stay organized and productive.

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