How to Create Project Templates in Jira

By Mike Kren On July 02, 2020

How to Create Project Templates in Jira
Our team adopted Jira as our project management system almost one year ago because we were looking for something that was geared toward development while allowing us to customize and modify as needed. We also wanted something that visually represented the “flow” of work. If you know anything about Jira, it can be customized to the nth degree. So much so, that it is easy to get lost behind the scenes in how all the pieces fit together.

While we’re pretty big fans, one of the things that we have been trying to work around for quite some time is the lack of templating in Jira and the time it can take to spin up a new project. While it took the better part of a year, we have found a path of tips and tricks that we feel have made our project creation much faster and gave us some ability to create “templates.”
While many of our projects are different, there are aspects across nearly all of them that are core to our process. Hence, the desire for project and task templates. While Jira out of the box doesn’t offer templates, there are a few existing options we had to consider. 
  1. First of all, you can purchase an add-on, but we weren’t really interested in adding to our monthly user cost if we didn’t have to. 
  2. Second, there are tutorials for creating project templates if you are using Jira Server, which sadly, we are not; and if you are a developer, which sadly, I am not. So, we forged ahead learning and experimenting and mostly thinking we weren’t going to have project templates unless Atlassian offered them up as a new feature.
Here is what we found works for us:
NOTE: of the 2 main project options, Classic, and Next-Gen, our best bet was to stick with Classic projects, so the notes below reflect that.

Learn the tool

We chose to learn as we went instead of paying for any special instruction, other than a couple of Pluralsight courses. It took us most of the last 9 months working with a team of 3-4 people to explore all of the settings and determine which ones were perfect for us. We wrote down (in our words, not Atlassians) what these settings did, and why we did or did not need to use them. We also created a lot of dummy accounts to test out different roles so we could add our teams to projects, and have clients see their stuff too, but not the projects belonging to our other clients.
That process alone created a lot of behind the scenes mess, so the takeaway here is two-fold:
  1. Once you know the settings that work best for your organization, make sure you create a master project and lock them down. Take that document you created and refine it so if anything changes in the future, you can go back and reference it.
  2. Clean up your mess. Go back through and carefully clean up all of your failed experiments and update to the settings you know work for you.

Create your stories

Once you have your master project, we recommend creating your repeatable stories and put them in Epics so you can easily group/sort them for future reference.
Once you have your perfectly created default project and stories, you have your first template. Now, here is how you use that to make future projects much easier to create.

1. Create your new project and select Classic project. Make sure you check the box for “Share settings with an existing project” and select the project that you want to act as your template. 

Share Settings option location
  • This will get you a base project and include all of the project settings that you have in your default project, BUT it doesn’t get you a Board or Stories.
2. We want consistency across as many of our projects as we can, and that includes the board. Have your default project open in a separate tab and click on the Board dropdown. Click on View All.​

View All button location

3. This opens a new page that contains all of your project boards, which have their own settings. 
  • Find the board for your default project and Copy itCopy option
  • Edit the settings of the new board copy to match your new project:
    • Board Name - we recommend naming it after the new project
    • Location - select the new project
    • Filter
      • You will need to Edit the filter query to de-select the default project and save it for the new project. Once that is done you need to replace the filter in your board settings
    • Sharing - update the groups you want to be able to share the board with
      • This is usually your clients, your team, and maybe your Jira Administrators.
  • Now you have your project, and your board in place, and you just need stories.
4. Import your templated tasks / stories
  • Before you can import you need to export the existing stories from your default project.
    • Navigate to your Default Project Template 
    • From the left-handed menu select Issues and Filters
    • Select Advanced search 
    • Select Export
    • Export Excel CVS (all fields) option location
    • Select Export Excel CSV (all fields)
    • Open the downloaded CSV file in excel
  • Now you can import
    • Grab your exported CSV
      • NOTE: The config file you will also need is generated the first time you do a mapping for an import. Any time you do an import, you can download a new version of the mapping for future use.
    • Access the Jira administration page 
    • Scroll down on the left side menu to the Import and Export section
    • Select External System Import
    • External System Import option location
    • Select CSV
    • Select Browse and upload the CSV file
    • Select the checkbox “Use an existing configuration file”. A configuration file uploader will appear
    • File Import screen captures
    • Select Browse… and upload your config txt file.
    • Select the blue next button
    • Select the project you wish to add the standard project tasks to
    • Leave the other settings alone, and press the blue next button
    • Select the blue next button on the Map fields screen
    • Select the blue Begin Import button
    • The system will import the tasks. You are done! 
While this may seem like a lot of steps, we have found we are saving substantial amounts of time over having to create every new project from scratch. Also, you can have selections of stories exported so you can run a few imports and only grab what you need instead of all project stories each time.
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About the author

Mike has been managing large-scale projects since 2006. His passion is bringing order to the chaos to keep everyone on the same page and the work moving forward. He has always enjoyed working as part of a team, and believes that team includes clients too. Mike loves spending time with his wife, 4 kids, and his dog. He’s an avid film buff, amateur backpacker, and experimental cook, with flashes of brilliance around a pool table.

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