Taking Advantage of Status and Status Categories in Jira

Statuses in Jira

A Status used for Jira Issues are the stages a particular issue, or issues, are currently at in their lifecycle – the workflow. We use Status in the Issue workflow to allow for numerous different meanings. The typical Statuses that are in a Project Management project are: To Do, In Progress and Done.

Jira Statuses

Status labels can be created and are commonly used to convey an established definition to users. As seen in the image above, there are default labels already provided. Your team should understand and agree what each means to them. The colors represented on a Status are reflective of the Status Category. The use of Status Categories allows for a team to have different Status of an issue (the Label) that will reside under the higher level buckets of To Do, In Progress or Done.

Where Is Status Used?


The Status of an Issue is used in several areas in Jira: Agile Boards, Dashboards, and Reports. The first image below displays a sprint progress gadget on a Dashboard. From the first image above, you know the color code associated with the Status. So we can see there are 12 Issues that are To Do, 2 In Progress, and 3 Done.

Sprint Progress

This default Sprint Status bar is used to easily see the health of the Sprint at a glance. Each of the color codes represents one of the 3 default Status categories. They are slightly different depending on your Atlassian instance, Server or Cloud, and version. You can change the label, or create your own Status, in any of the status categories.

Epic, Task, and Subtask

Status Categories

You can see above we changed the label on To Do to Backlog, added a new Status, Selected for Development and used the In Progress Status Category. We also added a Closed Status to the Done Status Category. Using the Overall sprint progress image, we now know that there are two items that are in the status category In Progress. One of the items is Selected for Development and the other is In Progress (actively being worked).

The Status of an Issue is easily changed or updated using simple drag and drop, or dropdowns. Drag and drop on your Agile Board is intuitive and simple, selecting and moving the Issue to a new Status column. Where board columns include more than one Status, you will be shown highlighted boxes by Status to choose from. The dropdown menu found in an issue allows you to select from available Status options, when not viewing Issues on your Agile Board.

Drop down menu

If you would like to start using a custom Status, a new Status can be added to the Status category by your Jira Administrator. They are administered in the Jira Settings, under Issue Attributes. Selecting Statuses will reveal all the current Statuses that are or could be used in projects. Once a Status is Added, and the appropriate Category is selected, it can be used in a project workflow.

Adding a status

Agile Boards

Agile Boards are used to organize Issues by Status columns as shown below.

Agile Boards

The Agile Board use of Status allows you to see all the Issues individually, when they share a specific Status or Status Category. You can see there is a lot more information on each Issue in the card view, which are configurable by your Admin. We can get into Issue details and their use in another article.

If you have the correct permissions to make changes to an Agile Board, you could separate the Selected for Development Status Category from the In Progress Status Category by creating a column for items that are Selected for Development. As this Agile Board shows, all items that are in an In Progress Status Category are grouped in a single column. This use is subjective, dependent on your Jira or Project Administrator, and how the team has elected to use their Agile Board. When this single Status Category column has been implemented, the Project Admin could enable functionality that displays the actual Status on the card.


Using Reports and the different Statuses available in your Jira Project allow you to look retrospectively and find bottlenecks and points of failure. Observing points of failure is very important for your team to adapt and improve. Without the ability to utilize Status and Status Categories, it can make for a difficult search when reviewing your project history. This information should not be used to point blame, but rather to identify the bottleneck, understand what happened, and solve for a solution.

Average Time In Status

You could create a custom JQL search using Status or Status Category for use in Reports or on your Dashboard and filters. You can observe the Pie Chart below that shows many different Status types in a project, and the number of Issues per Status.

Pie Chart

To show how you might use search data in one of the many charts and gadgets that are at your disposal using Categories, consider a very simple JQL that is saved as a filter, and returns deeper insight to Statuses in a Category.

project = "My Awesome Project" AND statusCategory = "In Progress"

Used in the Two Dimensional Gadget, it gives a reporting view that is dynamic and can be routine in your reports. All of the columns in blue are in the Status Category of In Progress.

Two Dimensional Gadget


Status and Status Categories in Jira are indispensable, and required by Jira. They are vitally important when managing a project so that everyone involved has an understanding into the progress of your Issues in a Jira Project. As a Developer, Quality Assurance, or Design team member, you can easily update your Status with a simple drag and drop or dropdown selection. As a Project Lead you have easy access to your project status, at a glance. I can’t imagine not having these features in my daily work life.

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