If you have heard of Atlassian’s tool: JIRA and happen to be wondering about JIRA project management you aren’t alone.
JIRA is a popular tool among many organizations and teams, where many users reportedly wonder how they can use the tool to manage their next projects with ease.
The tool is complex and offers a load of functionalities that can become quite confusing. That is why we have put forth this guide to JIRA project management to inform you of exactly what the tool has to offer and how you can use its features to your advantage.
What is JIRA?
JIRA is a popular tool that was created by the Australian company Atlassian and was launched in 2002.
The tool was initially created as purely an issue and bug tracking software but since then has evolved into a system for resolving complex project management issues.
The name of the software itself has an interesting origin story. JIRA is derived from the Japanese word for Godzilla, which is “Gojira”.
Let us backtrack a little.
When the team behind JIRA started working on the platform as an in-house joke, they called the tool “Bugzilla” for tracking bugs. Eventually, they started calling the platform by the original Japanese name for the Godzilla, or the King of Monsters as “Gojira”. Eventually, the ‘go’ got dropped and the team was left with JIRA which happened to stick.
What Does JIRA Consist of?
Atlassian, the creators of JIRA, have produced a bunch of tools that are used by thousands of teams worldwide. JIRA incorporates these tools to provide you with all your needs.
Here are some of the things offered:
JIRA software itself is a project and issue tracking tool. The tool is massive and fully customizable.
With the help of the platform agile leaders and project managers can manage the latest releases, overall progress, and more.
For this article, we will be focusing on this tool particularly and showing you how you can use it for your agile project management.
JIRA Align is an enterprise agile planning tool that connects your business strategy to technical execution.
Confluence is another tool created by Atlassian and is a JIRA plugin.
Confluence is a knowledge base where teams can collect assets and information on the project they are working on in JIRA.
With easy integration with JIRA, Confluence provides additional features while offering a seamless system.
With Confluence, you can store information and assets such as meeting minutes, project requirements, design documents, and more.
Bitbucket has been compared to GitHub and is an online repository tool.
Bitbucket allows users through an online repository to manage their code.
JIRA Service Desk
JIRA Service Desk is a customer service tool that offers users the ability to receive, track, resolve, and overall manage requests from customers.
Atlassian Marketplace is the place where you can purchase all available Atlassian applications and JIRA compatible applications.
Key Features in JIRA
JIRA is a very comprehensive and customizable tool. Here are some of the key features available to you when you use JIRA.
Understanding these key features will allow you to properly understand how to use JIRA for project management.
1. Custom Workflows
JIRA project management workflows denote workflows or processes in your company.
Anything that needs to go through a specific process can be part of a workflow in JIRA.
Each of the workflows in JIRA project management includes statuses and transitions that are denoted by colored blocks and arrows respectively.
You can see what stage a specific project, issue, or subtask is through the workflow in JIRA.
Workflows also allow you to set approvals for specific tasks. You can also set certain functions to occur automatically when a specific transition takes place.
The platform comes with certain built-in workflows however to get the full advantage of this feature you may wish to create custom workflows that can be created or you can choose from templates from the Atlassian Marketplace. More on this later.
JIRA permissions are both customizable and flexible. JIRA provides not only the option to give custom permissions to team members but also the ability to change these permissions when need be, even if that is in the middle of a project.
You can choose which of your team members should be able to assign tasks, comment or edit tasks, and so forth.
Not only that, JIRA gives you the ability to hide certain information from individuals who don’t have the security to see it. For example, external contractors can be blocked from viewing company-sensitive information yet still have a view of all the information they require to get their job done.
3. Components and Subtasks
Another key feature of JIRA is the ability to JIRA provides to organize your projects into components.
You can break different parts of a project into components for example which allow you to not only organize the project but also gain component-specific reporting.
Components are also great to list different issues in a project and assigning team members to these issues. You can also easily coordinate the activities of different team members’ groups with ease.
JIRA also allows you to break complex issues into subtasks. JIRA treats individual subtasks as separate issues.
Subtasks are also a great way to keep everything organized during the project process. You can assign subtasks to team members, add details as you would for tasks, and even give them their workflow.
Both components and subtasks are a great way to break the project down into more manageable steps to help better manage the project and also apportion time.
JIRA also allows you to create an association between issues with the ability to create links. You can link things in the form of “duplicates”, “blocks”, and “relates to”.
Such links are great to highlight how issues are related and work concerning one another.
You can also create custom links for important information.
5. Phases and Milestones
Carrying on from the organization of a project, JIRA breaks projects into four phases.
Level one is the overall themes of the projects or project categories. Level two includes current projects as well as sub-sections and project milestones. Level three includes specific issues and are those work items that need to be completed so you can move forward. Level four is for sub-tasks that we mentioned above.
Breaking the project up as such helps teams organize their projects and find things more easily.
6. Summaries and Reports
One of the main features available in JIRA which is a favorite tool for many of its users is the project summaries and reports.
With project summaries, you can get an overview of your project along with recent activity, upcoming due dates, and other such information.
Apart from project summaries, you can also create reports. Reports can be on a specific team member, or the issues that are currently running, and so on.
Summaries and reports give you an insight into the progress and running of your project thus keeping you up to date on all important information.
How to Use JIRA for Project Management?
Now that you know about the JIRA software and platform and what features are available it is time to understand JIRA agile project management.
Before we look into the steps of how to use JIRA for project management let’s first look into JIRA projects.
JIRA, as mentioned above, is aimed at helping you and your team members to both organize and prioritize work more efficiently so that you free up time to develop outcomes rather than spending time on sorting issues.
A project in JIRA is a set or collection of issues. Whether these be tasks, bugs, stories, or so on.
With JIRA you would use a project to signify the process and development of work for either a project, product, or service.
Before you begin working on your project you should be aware of the types of projects you can configure with the software. JIRA offers Scrum, Kanban, and Bug tracking, as well as Next-gen software projects.
- Scrum includes an iteration-based approach and is great if your team is constantly releasing new features or versions of a product on a regular schedule.
- Kanban is for a continuous flow of work. This method is great to ensure your team does not get overburdened by limiting work in progress.
- Bug tracking in JIRA delivers a basic workflow where you can track new features and bugs.
For more about project management methodologies and how they work check out this blog post.
JIRA also offers Next-gen software projects. These Scrum and Kanban projects are ideal for any number of teams that are starting with agile. With the next-gen software project, JIRA offers simplified board-view project templates where the set-up is simple and streamlined and can be increased depending on your needs.
Next-gen software projects can be created by any user in JIRA whereas only administrators can create classic projects.
Therefore, now that we begin our simple how-to guide, keep in mind that you should be a JIRA administrator.
STEP 1: Create a Project
To start off with JIRA project management you will want to create a project and arrange it according to your team’s needs and requirements are.
JIRA administrators can create projects, with the exclusion of next-gen projects which can be created by any user unless this permission has been changed.
Most of a project’s details, however, can be configured by a project administrator.
STEP 2: Configure the Board to Your Project
The next step concerns the boards in JIRA.
STEP 3: Configure Project Permissions
When you create a project, it will be pre-configured with the default permission scheme you have set.
A permission scheme in JIRA is a mapping of users or user groups and roles to specific project functions.
STEP 4: Issue Types, Workflows, Screens, and Fields
When you create a project, it will be pre-configured with a workflow, issue types, screens, and fields.
JIRA gives you the ability to change these according to your needs so they fit in accordance with any process type.
STEP 5: Create Components or Epics
Once you have configured your project, you may want to organize your workflow and issues. You can do this through the components that we described above.
You can choose whether you want to divide your project into components or epics, which will allow you to group issues.
With JIRA creating epics means you also have features such as epic columns on your board thus streamlining everything.
This is a basic rundown of how to use JIRA for project management. To gain detailed insights into what you need to do and what features are offered check out JIRA’s support page here.
Is JIRA a Good Project Management Tool for You?
While JIRA is a popular choice for many teams and organizations, it may not be the right choice for you and your team.
Some of the features that users miss when using JIRA are:
- The ability to assign tasks to multiple assignees
- Ability to create task templates
- Resource management
- Chat functionalities
Another reason that the tool may not be the best choice for every team is that the software is often seen by certain individuals as being complicated to use. This issue leads to increased time to onboard the tool for both you and your team. It can also lead to confusion when managing projects.
If this is the case you might want to consider other tools such as nTask. Unlike JIRA, nTask was created for project management. The tool is packaged in a user-friendly interface and feature-rich with all the tools necessary to run your projects with ease.
Check out the features available for use in nTask here.
nTask is the best Jira alternative for managers.
Manage projects, tasks, resources, and timesheets all in one place. Sign up today!