Cumulative Flow Diagrams (CFD) using Jira

  • Industry Rediness Program
Created on :
August 7, 2023
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
August 24, 2023

Cumulative flow diagrams (CFD) are essential in agile project management methodologies like Kanban. These diagrams offer a visual representation of work as it progresses through different stages. In this article, we will delve into the intricate details of a CFD using popular tools Jira, focusing on how to interpret and make the most of these diagrams in real-world scenarios.

Understanding the Basics

A Kanban board serves as a visual tool to represent a project’s workflow, providing a comprehensive view of different work items as they transition between various statuses. By employing the information from the board, a Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) can be plotted, offering an insightful reflection of the project’s state at various time intervals.

Within the context of a typical CFD:

  • The Y-axis signifies the total count of items, illustrating the volume of work at different stages.
  • The X-axis denotes time, allowing the tracking of progress and changes over specific periods.
  • Distinct colors or areas symbolize the diverse stages of workflow, such as “Backlog,” “In Progress,” and “Done.” These visual cues provide an immediate understanding of how tasks are moving within the system.
  • The space occupied by each color within the diagram corresponds to the number of items in a particular workflow status at a given moment in time, offering a detailed snapshot of the project’s current situation.

Cumulative Flow Diagram

How to Access a Cumulative Flow Diagram in Jira

1. Open Your Jira Project: Open your project in full screen

Kanban Board

2. Navigate to Reports: In the reports section, you can access the cumulative flow diagram.

3. Refining and Filtering : Jira allow you to gain specific insights. You can:

  • Select the time Period.
  • Select and remove columns.
  • Add or remove swim lanes.
  • Apply quick filters to focus on specific areas or team members. All board level quick filters will be visible as options.

Cumulative Flow Diagram refine report

Interpreting the Graph

Understanding the Movements

The CFD provides insight into how work items are progressing through different stages. It helps visualize:

  • Gradual increase or decrease in work.
  • Total number of pending work items.
  • Specific stages like “Done” showing cumulatively marked items.
  • Current in-progress items.

Role-Specific Insights

  • Product Owners: Can track how many items are added to the backlog, identify trends, and determine if new work is arriving.
  • Scrum Masters: Can monitor completion rates and identify concerning trends, such as if the work is not moving to the “Done” stage.

Team Level Filters

You can create team-level filters as quick filters to monitor a specific team’s progress. For example, you might see the departure rate of work for a web team, revealing potential areas of concern if items are not being marked as completed.

Validating the Data

The CFD needs to be accurate and align with the real state of the project. Here’s how you can validate the information:

  • Match numbers with your issue reports.
  • Use past dates and the filter(status was backlog on “2023/06/01″) to trace back to previous state of Kanban board.
  • Verify the issues at different dates to ensure confidence in the CFD.


Cumulative flow diagrams are powerful tools for visualizing the flow of work in a project. They allow project managers, product owners, scrum masters, and teams to see the status and progress of work items, identify trends, and take informed actions.

Grasping the complexities of Cumulative Flow Diagrams (CFDs), from interpreting different elements to refining and filtering the associated data, equips project managers with critical insights into their projects’ progress and challenges. For those interested in delving deeper into the capabilities of Jira, our Jira Training program offers a robust curriculum tailored to enhance your skills. The accompanying video below provides a comprehensive overview of Cumulative Flow Diagrams, elucidating its functionality and application in project management.

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