How to use Confluence whiteboards for planning and prioritization

US President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” While plans may hold little weight in the face of changing circumstances, the processes involved — planning, discussing, and implementing — remain invaluable.

In the modern business landscape — particularly in industries like software development, where processes are incremental and collaborative — the planning and prioritization of your projects and tasks provide the foundation for navigating unforeseen deviations with agility and success.

Planning and prioritization are complimentary but distinct business processes. While planning helps set clear goals and develop strategies to achieve them, prioritization ensures that efforts are directed toward activities that align with these goals, increasing the likelihood of success.

Prioritization provides a framework for decision-making by helping businesses evaluate trade-offs, while planning ensures that decisions are based on careful consideration of available options and their potential consequences.

Confluence has long served as a best friend for project managers who need to plan and prioritize their team's work efficiently, as it provides a centralized platform for teams to document objectives, timelines, and priorities collaboratively. 

With the introduction of Confluence whiteboards, planning and prioritization have become even more visual and collaborative. This feature provides teams with a free-form surface to shape their plans before they start to execute. Once they are ready to start working on these plans, they can easily move that work into Jira and turned into actionable tasks.

What are Confluence whiteboards?

Confluence whiteboards are an interactive and collaborative tool for capturing and organizing spontaneous ideas and seamlessly transforming them into actionable tasks. 

Through easy integration with other Atlassian products, they offer a highly collaborative and visual way to capture unstructured work (like brainstorming) and quickly turn ideas into formal documentation. 

Confluence whiteboards are an infinite canvas that teams can use to explore ideas and streamline the process from planning to execution. To learn more about getting started with whiteboards, check out this quick guide

Creating whiteboards with a template

Templates are a great way to quickly get started on any type of project or task. They provide a structured framework and guidance, saving time and ensuring consistency in planning and execution.

They’re also a great starting point when using Confluence whiteboards to kick off any type of collaborative work session.

To create a whiteboard in Confluence, select the “Create” button on the top menu, then navigate to and select “Whiteboard.” 

Create whiteboard screenshot.

Once you’ve landed on your newly created whiteboard, you’ll be prompted to choose a template.

When you find the one you want, hover over the template in the template picker and select “Use Template.”

Whiteboard templates screenshot.

If you don’t want to see the template picker every time the whiteboard loads, uncheck “Show when creating a whiteboard,” located in the bottom left corner of the picker.

Confluence whiteboard templates for planning and prioritization

Confluence whiteboards offer a versatile canvas for teams to visualize, strategize, and innovate. To make project management easier, they also come with a myriad of built-in templates for diverse tasks like project brainstorming, diagramming, design, and research. 

Here are a few whiteboard templates to help teams get their project planning and prioritization processes off the ground.

Brainwriting template

Brainwriting is a collaborative brainstorming technique where participants silently write down their ideas on a template, responding to prompts or prompts provided by the facilitator. 

The whiteboards brainwriting template is a great tool for speeding up the process of creating new ideas, developing new solutions, and taking a creative approach to problem-solving. 

For brainwriting to work, it’s important for team members to be open and accepting of other ideas. The creative process isn’t as effective if people participating enter the session with a fear of being judged or mocked for their ideas. 

Here’s how a brainstorming session using this template could look: 

  • Introduction: Explains the purpose, and provides any necessary instructions or guidelines for using the brainwriting template.
  • Silent idea generation: Each team member adds their name to a sticky note and a timer is set to allow everyone to individually brainstorm an idea for the problem.
  • Rotation: After the timer goes off, it’s time to rotate. This allows for idea cross-pollination. Start the timer again, move to the idea on your right, and try to improve upon that idea. 
  • Review and discussion: Once all participants have contributed to multiple brainwriting templates, lead a discussion to review the ideas generated. Using this template, you can also vote on the best idea once discussions have concluded.
Brainwrite example.

This whiteboard template is great for enabling team members to build upon each other's ideas, fostering creativity, and generating a diverse range of solutions to a given problem or challenge.

Flow chart templates

Flow charts have long been used in project management for various processes, including customer journey mapping, prioritizing tasks, email mapping, defining specifications and feature requirements, mapping out user journeys, outlining release processes, and visualizing feedback loops. 

They help teams visually represent the sequence of steps or processes involved in developing a product, helping identify dependencies, allocate resources effectively, and ensure alignment with strategic goals throughout the product life cycle.

Confluence whiteboards flowchart templates can work wonders for teams looking to quickly map out and optimize all types of workflows and processes. 

Flowchart example.

The flow chart template is incredibly versatile and can be used to map out, document, and clarify complex processes in the ideation phase of a project.

RICE template

Confluence whiteboards also offer a template for one of the most popular prioritization methods, the RICE framework. The RICE method prioritizes tasks or projects based on four factors: Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. 

  • Reach refers to the number of users the task or project will impact. 
  • Impact measures the potential impact or benefit of the task or project on users or the business. 
  • Confidence reflects the team’s level of confidence in the estimates for reach and impact. 
  • Effort estimates the time, resources, and work required to complete the task or project.

The RICE method combines these four factors into a single score, multiplying Reach, Impact, and Confidence, then dividing the result by Effort, which looks like this:

(Reach x Impact x Confidence) / Effort

RICE method example.

This score provides a quantitative measure of each task or project's priority, helping teams allocate resources effectively and focus on initiatives with the highest potential for impact relative to their effort.

When using this template, the first step involved is plotting the data for each project or task you’re prioritizing based on reach, impact, confidence, and effort. For reach, plot the number of users that stand to be impacted by the project/tasks. 

The other three factors can be ranked on a scale of 1-5 to provide consistency. For example, if you want to define Effort, ask yourself “On a scale of 1-5, how easy or difficult will this project be to complete?”

The second step is using the formula to calculate the RICE score of each project or task. 

2x2 prioritization method template 

Confluence whiteboards also offer a 2x2 prioritization method template. Also known as the Eisenhower Matrix or Urgent-Important Matrix, it is a framework for prioritizing tasks based on importance and urgency. It categorizes tasks into four quadrants:

  • Tasks that are urgent and important require immediate attention and should be addressed as a top priority. These tasks have significant consequences if not completed promptly.
  • Tasks that are important but not urgent are strategic tasks that contribute to long-term goals or objectives. These tasks should be scheduled and planned for but may not require immediate action.
  • Tasks that are urgent but not important are, more often than not, distractions or interruptions that can be delegated, minimized, or eliminated. These tasks may consume time and resources but do not contribute significantly to long-term goals.
  • Tasks that are neither urgent nor important are low-priority and can be deferred, delegated, or eliminated. These tasks do not align with goals or provide much vital value to the project.
Eisenhower matrix example.

The 2x2 prioritization method helps teams focus efforts on urgent and important tasks while also identifying opportunities to delegate, schedule, or eliminate tasks that are less critical to achieving goals.

Prioritization matrix template

A prioritization matrix, also known as a decision matrix or prioritization grid, is a tool used to systematically evaluate and prioritize a set of options or alternatives based on predefined criteria. It consists of a grid where options are listed along one axis and criteria are listed along the other. Each option is then assessed against each criterion.

A prioritization matrix provides a structured decision-making approach, helping teams make informed choices, allocate resources effectively, and focus on initiatives that align with strategic objectives or priorities. It helps break down long to-do lists into manageable tasks while also helping to understand which tasks are most vital to achieving team goals.

The Confluence whiteboard prioritization matrix template is designed to align team efforts with project goals for effective prioritization. The two key elements of this template are "share goals" and "work to be done."

Add your team's top goals to the template so that you can prioritize your work while keeping your most important goals top of mind. Once you've defined "work to be done," you can add elements like sticky notes to prioritize them or align the tasks on a time horizon.

Prioritization matrix screenshot.

Since priorities are ever-changing, the template was designed to make it very easy to move tasks around the matrix and make changes whenever necessary. 

More planning and prioritization options to consider 

Outside of Confluence whiteboards, Atlassian products have many other planning and prioritization resources. Jira users can try Jira Product Discovery, which helps product teams capture and prioritize ideas and align with product roadmaps directly in Jira.

The Atlassian Team Playbook offers numerous prioritization and planning plays — free workshop resources that help your team address common challenges and continually improve teamwork in all your projects.

Ready to use this template?

Start documenting and standardizing tasks in Confluence.