Jira software is one of the most popular and widely used tools for project management. It helps teams to plan, assign, track, report, and manage work. Jira software has made its mark in both IT and non-IT hemispheres with its unique set of features, namely:
- User-friendly interface
- Standard OOTB workflows with ability to customize workflows as per the project needs
- Unlimited custom fields enabling better organization of work
- Customizable dashboards with gadgets, offering a view of different reports
- REST APIs that allow customizations for achieving the desired functionality
- Marketplace with 1000+ plug-and-play add-ons to meet specific needs
- Integration with other development tools, providing a common interface for viewing development, and issue related information
Popularity of the tool has risen exponentially over the past couple of years and it has emerged as a tough competitor to other project management tools in the industry. Atlassian has made its place in Gartner’s 2019 Magic quadrant and appears as a leader among organizations that provide Enterprise Agile planning solutions.
Deep dive – Some common myths amongst Jira software users
Jira software is very popular with agile enthusiasts because it facilitates efficient management of agile projects - from planning to execution and reporting. Jira offers:
- Backlog view - helps in managing and prioritizing tasks.
- Active sprint board or Kanban board - makes it easy to visualize and track progress.
- Release hub - displays the released, unreleased, and archived versions, with a detailed view of the current release – progress, warnings, remaining work, etc.
- Reports - help in understanding the overall status and analyzing whether the team is on track. It also helps in planning the upcoming task, based on the team’s performance.
- The dashboard - presents a dynamic view of the overall picture, which helps assess the performance of a team or project, based on different aspects.
Despite such helpful and easy-to-use features, it is often seen that teams do not use Jira efficiently. One of the biggest reasons for this inefficient usage is the lack of information and understanding of various aspects of the tool. This also leads to some misconceptions or myths about Jira.
Here are 5 common myths amongst Jira software users:
#1 - Jira software projects can have only one board for tracking progress, or a Scrum/Kanban board can display status of issues from one project.
This is a very common misconception amongst teams and obstructs the tracking and viewing of different aspects of a project, even when it might be necessary to regularly monitor progress across different areas. Therefore, Jira users must understand that boards can either be specific to a single project or can display information from multiple projects. Issues are displayed based on the filter query set for the board. It is also possible to have multiple boards for a single project - each board showing different sets of issues, thereby helping different teams in a project to view and track their status or to view and report on different components of a project.
#2 - A project can have a single workflow. The need for multiple workflows can be fulfilled by creating multiple projects.
Workflows are tied to the issue types in a project. A project with multiple issue types – user story, task, bug, sub-task, etc. can have a different workflow associated with each issue type, as per the project needs. For example, a team might want a different set of statuses and reporting for bugs as compared to user stories and other issue types. This can be achieved by associating a new workflow, with a different set of statuses and transitions for bug-issue type and the default workflow for all other issue types used in the project.
#3 – Only one sprint can be active at a given point of time. Multiple active sprints with different lengths can be managed only by creating separate projects.
Jira software provides a ‘parallel sprints’ feature at a global level. This feature allows running multiple sprints at a given point of time. A significant scenario where a project might want to use this can be when multiple teams are working on the same product backlog but want to run sprints of different durations. Enabling parallel sprints for a given Jira instance allows accommodating such project needs efficiently.
#4 - Epics are project-specific
Jira users generally think that epics belong to a single project, and that different teams working to deliver parts of the same feature must create similar epics in each team’s project. However, in reality, epics can span across multiple projects. This is helpful in a scenario where two different teams in separate projects are developing a feature. For example, designing a company website that displays relevant information for the employees, along with reports of various departments and a consolidated company progress report. Two different teams might achieve this – with one working on website creation and the other one creating a standalone reporting module. But, at some point, both the teams might have to collaborate to deliver a common dashboard (epic).
#5 - One Jira Project – One Estimation Unit
Estimation unit is a part of the board configuration and can be set to story points, original estimate, or any other number-field, based on project needs. A project with multiple boards can have different estimation units for each board. For example, a project with two teams and separate boards for each team can plan to use different estimation units for different teams – one of the teams might be using story points, whereas others might consider the original estimate as the most relevant estimation unit.
Jira software provides a wide range of features but deriving value out of them depends on a thorough understanding of the tool and how it fits in with the project needs. Knowing its features is of utmost importance for any team to make efficient use of Jira and achieve the desired results.