What is Jira?
Jira was developed in 2002 to offer a bug and issue tracking platform for software developers. Now, it is used more broadly as a project management software, delivering a diverse range of functions. These include scrum and content management, marketing and agile project management. There are three different packages of Jira. This includes ‘Jira Core’; a basic project management software. ‘Jira Software’ combines features of Jira Core with Agile functions and ‘Jira Service Desk’ is specifically designed for professionals working in technology or alternative service desks.
Jira – the multi-purpose platform
While Jira is still used as an excellent bug and tracking platform, it has grown and evolved since it was first introduced. It now offers many other features which organisations and businesses are keen to take advantage of to improve their project management capabilities. Jira can be used by agile teams.
The software offers scrum and Kanban boards, which can be utilised to structure and map out the different tasks that need to be completed within a project. Jira can also be used by software development teams; it provides functions that support developers to manage budgets, feature requirements, clients and other stakeholders. This is achieved by integrating Jira with CI/CD functions and using integrated feature flagging tools. Alternative uses for Jira include task management, project management and product management.
The Jira experience
We asked our clients about their experience of Jira. Below, we discuss their thoughts and explain the top features of Jira in more detail.
A centralised hub
When asked about the major advantages of Jira, our clients praised how “all communication [was in] one place/recorded against one reference” and how there is “visibility of all related comments”.
Jira’s project roadmap delivers this benefit by offering a clear overview of all the steps that need to be taken to achieve a project’s objectives. It includes a timetable, a list of tasks to complete, and a breakdown of short and long term goals among other features. This is useful for having everything in one place, as our clients described. This can also be an asset when presenting a product development’s progress to stakeholders, as well as ensuring that all members of the team are included in the project’s development and clear about what has been done and needs to be done. Our client noted however that a potential issue arises when you are using more than one platform for communication and collaboration purposes, such as email; Jira becomes an “extra platform you have to check for actions needed”. It might be more useful therefore to make Jira the only, or the primary platform a team uses.
The Jira dashboard
Our clients described how Jira’s dashboard “provides clear direction”, and acts as a “good view of all modules [so that] you don’t have to waste time searching”.
Jira’s dashboard is the main interface a user is presented with when they log in to Jira. Dashboards can be reordered, reconfigured, added to and customised to display the most relevant features and information. Once the dashboard changes for one user, it changes in the same way for every other user so that everything remains consistent. Different dashboards can be created for different projects.
Our client prioritised “tasks being organised by release” as one of the most helpful features of Jira. This makes it “easy to see what is pressing”.
Jira makes it easy to organise a project by delivering excellent reporting functions on all aspects of a project’s progress. These functions include the ability to designate workloads for each user, allocate time to complete each task, and compare created and completed tasks. Jira tracking offers extra functions to support users to organise their project; these include scrum board tracking, burndown charts and sprint reports. By delivering such detailed reporting, and organising tasks that need to be completed by release, Jira allows users like our clients to easily prioritise tasks and organise their workload.
The testing process
Our clients agreed that the testing process in Jira is clear and easy to manage, however they struggled sometimes with testing small elements in isolation.
Jira can be used for testing during the coding and release stages using manual and automated tests. Teams can achieve this on Jira using tools like ‘fields’ ‘workflows’ and ‘screens’ to test issues iteratively. Jira is an ideal platform for testing because it is integrated with the rest of a project’s development. Integrated testing, in contrast to standalone testing, delivers a consistent process that is in line with the rest of the project. It is clear and defined for each member of the team.
Logging bugs and requesting changes
Our clients described how they find Jira “invaluable for logging bugs and requesting changes”. They noted however, that this function needs to be integrated with the rest of the project. If it is used in isolation, they find verbal communication more useful and practical.
Bugs refer to tasks that are created based on issues that arise from a project’s development process. Jira offers the ability to ‘log’ bugs, automatically assign them to specific users and prioritise them according to their importance and urgency. Jira provides a backlog displaying all the tasks and bugs that have been resolved and those still needing to be resolved. This allows the team to monitor the progress of each bug and provides them with the ability to contextualise that bug within the overall progress of a project’s development.
Overall, our clients had a positive experience of Jira. They were pleased with all the functions that Jira offered, and they found the programme easy to use. Their main issues included having to check Jira for actions to be completed, using Jira’s bug logging function in isolation, and testing small elements in isolation. While these issues have caused problems for our client, we are grateful for the feedback and we feel positive that we can adapt our methods to help resolve them.