Importing Agile Stories into JIRA

by | Oct 17, 2014

We’ve started using JIRA to manage our projects. This is how we got our data into JIRA.
We wanted to get our data in without lots of manual intervention, so we put it into a CSV and imported it – here’s the details if you’re looking to do the same thing.
It seems that the import function in JIRA is quite comprehensive and assuming you have the right columns and setup, you can pretty much import anything. To keep things simple, we decided to manually setup the projects within JIRA (we only had a few) and import just the issues.
The process was based on their documentation here:
The first part was to understand the format for stories in JIRA. The Agile component works using Issues and doesn’t have a specific set of fields to format stories in the way we’re used to. Previously we had software that stored As a, I want, so that as separate fields where as JIRA doesn’t restrict how the stories are formatted, they offer a summary field where you enter this data – you manually type As a
The CSV file we had was made up of the following fields:
Summary – Text field with a max of 254 characters, we had issues with the lengths of our summaries on a couple of stories, it will warn you when you try and import but best to count the characters in the field pre-import and fix if needed.
Description – Text field and as far as I can tell there isn’t a limit to the size of this field. I’ve researched on the web and couldn’t find any limits imposed.
Sprint – Number field, this is the sprint number for your Agile story. You can include closed issues from previous sprints too.
Original Estimate – Number field, this is entered in minutes. The guide suggests that the time is entered in seconds, which didn’t work for us. When we imported it our estimates came out as weeks instead of hours and days. This might be a setting somewhere but I’m pretty sure we haven’t changed anything so assume this is default behaviour. We didn’t import any other estimate values but I’d recommend doing a test import first to see what happens in your instance.
Issue Type – Text field, with a limited set of values. In our upload, we set them all to Story.
Priority – Text field, with a limited set of values. In our instance we could choose from; Blocker, Critical, Major, Minor and Trivial. For our import, we set them all to Minor with the intent of updating them later.
If you’re adding closed issues for historical reporting then you’ll probably need to include fields for:
– Date Created
– Resolution
– Time Spent
– Status (Set to either Resolved or Closed or the correct term based on your JIRA workflow)
Date formats are set when you upload the file so can be stored in any reasonable format as long as all fields are consistent.
Once you have the data in the format needed, the import process is pretty straight forward, assuming you have privileges to do it:
1. Log into JIRA
2. Click Issues Menu > Import Issues from CSV
3. Click Choose File and find it on your file system
4. Click Next and choose the Project you’re importing the issues for
5. Specify the delimiter, the default will be a comma, we left the file encoding as UTF-8
6. Specify your date format, you only need to do this if you’re bringing in date fields
7. Click Next and choose the mapping between your CSV and JIRA, the fields I’ve mentioned above should appear as they are in the JIRA list.
8. Click Next and Validate. This will let you know if there’s any issues with your file – if it throws back any errors, cancel the import and correct them then start again from step 1.
9. Once all of your records have validated correctly, click Begin Import and you’re done.
When you go to import, you’ll be able to see a list of all the potential import fields. If you’re planning to experiment a bit I’d suggest setting up a test project that you can delete and play around with first, once you’re happy then you can move on to importing into production projects.
Keep exploring!

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