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Bottom Up Automation for Backlog Grooming

Now that you've seen how easy it is to track tasks across multiple projects using the Extend generator, let's look at how we can use the Group generator to look at work assigned to specific teams or team members – and quickly manage your backlog.

In the last tutorial, we started at the top of our hierarchy (Epics) and worked our way down. This time, we're going to start at the bottom and insert all of our active stories.

Starting with a brand new, blank structure (see Creating Your First Structure), click the Automation button in the Structure toolbar. This will open the Automation Editing Mode.

Step 1: Insert Stories

Once Automation Editing Mode is on, you'll see the '+' icon next to the Automation button. Click it and select Insert.

This time, we'll use the JQL Query: "Issuetype = Story". Just as with our top-down structure, you can also narrow your results by specifying projects (see Advanced Searching for more information about using JQL).

Once again, the Insert generator will pull all issues that match our query into the new structure. In this case, they will add the stories from our specified project.

These will serve as the bottom-most level of our hierarchy, and we will use the Group generator to add levels above this.

Step 2: Group by Assignee

Make sure the top line of your structure is still highlighted and click the Add Generator button (+) again. This time, select Group. In the "Group by..." menu, you will see more options than were available for the Extend generator. You can group issues by nearly any attribute. But for the purpose of this guide, we're going to begin by grouping all of our stories by their assignee. So in the drop-down list, choose Assignee.

At this point, all of your stories should appear beneath their respective assignee.

Now we'll add another level to our hierarchy, so we can view the work being done for each sprint.

Step 3: Group by Sprint

Make sure the top row of your structure is still highlighted and return to the Add Generator menu. Select Group again. But this time, let's group by Sprint name.

Once you apply this new generator, the top-level of your hierarchy will show all of your sprints. Under each of these, you can see which team members are assigned to which stories, and which stories are still unassigned.

Any stories that have yet to be assigned will be placed under an Unassigned folder. You can assign (or reassign) items simply by dragging them to a new location in the structure.

Taking it Further

At this point, you already have an incredibly useful structure. But you don't have to stop there.

As we noted above, you can group by nearly any attribute:

  • Perhaps you want to see who worked on which projects for a fix version. Simply add another Group generator, this time grouping by Fix Version.
  • Or you could group all of your results by Priority.

Take some time to explore the many options available under the Group extender. And remember, you don't have to choose just one configuration. You can create as many structures as you need. Set up one that just looks at assignees, and then have others that dig deeper in whatever way you need to see the information. Since generators are re-run every time you open the structure, you'll always have the up-to-date information you need, just the way you need it.

These are just examples of a few ways you can build structures using Automation. There are hundreds of other possibilities, allowing you to create the perfect hierarchy for your business needs – or several perfect hierarchies! In this guide, we focused on building down with extenders and building up with groupers, but you don't have to work in just one direction. You can start in the middle and add both extenders and groupers. If you really want to customize things, you can add multiple inserters, group different levels by different attributes, sort specific levels, and more.

To learn more about some of these advanced steps, check out our full articles on Generators.

Next Steps

If you're interested in learning about adding items to a structure manually, continue on to Building a Structure Manually

If you would rather keep things simple, jump ahead to Working with Structure

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