How to Add a Custom Urgency Field in JIRA

In Brief...

In JIRA, there is a default field called Priority used to indicate how important an issue is, but there is no default field used to indicate how urgent an issue is. Here we explain why you need an Urgency field and how you create it.


In JIRA, there is a default field called Priority that is defined as follows in the JIRA documentation:

Blocks development and/or testing work, production could not run.
Crashes, loss of data, severe memory leak.
Major loss of function.
Minor loss of function, or other problem where easy workaround is present.
Cosmetic problem like misspelt words or misaligned text.

At Webucator, 99% of our issues are defined as either Major or Minor, meaning that they are Important or Not AS Important. Limiting this to just two choices provides what I like to call "Freedom FROM Choice". No need to get hung up on the difference between Minor and Trivial or between Critical and Blocker. If it's Major, it's Major. But is it also urgent?

And this brings us to the Eisenhower Decision Matrix described in Stephen Covey's First Things First.

Eisenhower Decision Matrix
  Urgent Not Urgent
  • Checkout Broken
  • CSS Not Loading
  • Database Not Reachable
  • New Feature Making Checkout Easier
  • Evaluation Survey Broken
  • Inaccurate Product Description
Not Important
  • Chance to win $50 by Completing Online Survey
  • Interruptions and Distractions

The problem with having a Priority field and no Urgency field is that it becomes difficult to distinguish between issues that are both Important and Urgent and issues that are Important, but not Urgent. So, we added a custom Urgency field with the following values:

  • Need it done Now!
  • Need it done by tomorrow.
  • Need it done next week.
  • Not urgent.
Urgency Field in JIRA

There are different ways you could handle this. It might work for your team to use the built-in Due Date field. At Webucator, that doesn't work, because the people who report issues in our company do not manage the development schedule, so they cannot set due dates. The purpose of the Urgency field is for the reporters to indicate how desperately they need the bug fixed or the new feature implemented. It is then up to our CTO to determine when they will actually tackle the issue, weighing it against the importance and urgency of other issues in JIRA.

How to Create a Custom Urgency Field

To create a custom Urgency field in JIRA, follow these instructions (Note that you must be a JIRA Administrator):

  1. From the Settings Wheel in the upper right, select Issues:: Select Issues
  2. From the left-hand menu, select Custom fields: Custom Fields
  3. Click the Add custom field button: Add Custom Field
  4. Click Select List (single choice): Select List
  5. Click the Next button.
  6. Configure the Select List by entering a Name, Description, and adding Options: Configure Select List
  7. Click the Create button.
  8. Refresh the page.
  9. Now click the Create button at the top of the screen as if you were going to create a new issue.
  10. Click Configure Fields and check Urgency: Configure Issue Fields
  11. You can now cancel out.

The next time you create an issue, your new Urgency field should appear.

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Author: Nat Dunn

Nat Dunn founded Webucator in 2003 to combine his passion for web development with his business expertise and to help companies benefit from both.