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I run a development team that recently started using Jira and we began using agile scrum. I'm curious about a certain aspect of backlogged issues.

So far I have been marking new issues as unassigned until the issues are actually assigned to anyone. Most of the time this process is done during the sprint planning meeting.

A different team leader began assigning my name to the unassigned issues and changed the setting to the default assignee is myself rather than "unassigned". Does this sound logical?

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    I have seen organizations where there is a fear that unassigned tickets will fall through the cracks, because nobody seems to be responsible for the ticket. This could play a role here as well. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Dec 13 '14 at 7:10
  • @lorengphd would you mind accepting an answer if any are correct or posting how you solved your issue in the end? It would be good for future reference of others with the same/similar question. – Elliot Blackburn Dec 17 '14 at 23:34
  • Sorry, I had up voted but not "accepted". – lorengphd Dec 18 '14 at 16:59
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I think how you manage your Jira is really up to you and your team. We use a different issue tracking system to Jira that has the ability to create "virtual accounts". Our last lead developer used to like all issues assigned to him which he would then dish out.

When I took over temporarily I created a virtual account called "Up For Grabs" and moved all un-assigned work to this account. I did this because I didn't want people thinking that work was being done because it was assigned to someone (me) when it was not. So I moved anything that was not being worked on to this account. Since our new team leader has joined us and we have adopted scrum, we have kept the Up For Grabs account and used that as our default assignee. We find this works best because no one in our team assigns work out, instead we pick up tasks ourselves from the current sprint. This also means no one has anything else attached to them other than what they're currently working on.

However if you have multiple teams it could potentially get confusing. I'm not very familiar with Jira but perhaps having something you can assign it to that is called something like "Team X - Up For Grabs" or something akin to a virtual user (not attached to any team member individually). This would mean your other team leaders don't get confused with unassigned work, but you also don't have a swamped account with loads of assigned work.

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A different team leader began assigning my name to the unassigned issues and changed the setting to the default assignee is myself rather than "unassigned". Does this sound logical?

What happens when the task is not in the project backlog - are you removing your name?

It isn't the end of the world to put your name there as a default if you remove it when it becomes defined/moved to the sprint. Just an annoyance. Your name there effectively will mean "unassigned."

Regardless you definitely don't want to actually assign tasks to developers directly as the lead or you will result in blockage/bogging your team down.

So, basically:

  • If it's only a temporary thing (IE until it's defined or put into the current sprint) then it doesn't matter other than it creates extra overhead as you have to remove your name when it's moved from the product backlog.
  • If you have had problems with people starting tasks in your backlog prior because they are "unassigned" then address this - don't assign yourself story to get around this, deal with how people are picking up unassigned tasks.

If you are actually working on user stories yourself then you definitely don't want to have your name there because you will not have a good way to ever see who has started tasks if they get moved back into the backlog.

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    Yes, I am working on stories myself too. The only reason they want an assignee is because it helps for reporting. Rather than fix the report filters, they want me to have a default assignee of myself or someone else. Just not unassigned. Makes no sense to me. – lorengphd Dec 13 '14 at 0:33
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The Sprint is a team commitment. The Sprint belongs to the team. Only the team gets to decide how it will collectively fulfill the team commitment.

If someone from another team is "assigning" things to individuals, you're not doing Scrum.

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I've always seen the practice that once an issue is assigned, that person takes ownership follows it through to completion (unless there's a reason to pass it off).

Assigning every issue to a default person who then routes it to someone else seems like unnecessary handling of each issue. All that interaction will really add up over time.

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I am the Scrum Master on two teams and my name is the default for unassigned tasks in Jira. However, I prefer that these tasks instead remain "unassigned" as I think it is visually easier to see what tasks are available for someone on the team to self-assign. I go into Jira and change my name to "unassigned" when necessary.

  • That especially makes sense because the Scrum Master is part of the team and there's absolutely no reason you can't be doing "regular" tasks like the rest of the team. It totally depends on your skills and what the project calls for. Setting the "Scrum Master" apart from the team, making that person like a "manager" or "liaison," is actually contrary to how Scrum is supposed to work. – catfood Aug 12 '16 at 18:45
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    This doesn't really answer the question, it is simply sharing an anecdote. – user22815 Aug 12 '16 at 22:48

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