The Ultimate Guide to Efficiency: Jira Best Practices in 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Efficiency: Jira Best Practices in 2023

When it comes to crafting efficient agile workflows, Jira has no equal. The customer-centric, Atlassian-developed tool allows project management teams to supervise, track, and oversee projects of any size and complexity. Small wonder that it’s a best-in-class go-to for agile software teams around the world with over 65,000 organizations using Jira every day.

Collaborating with teams in Jira can be challenging in practice, however, especially if you don’t have clear guidelines around how to design and sync workflows across multiple teams. In this piece, we lay out efficient Jira best practices in 2023 to help you get the most out of your workflows quickly and bring clarity to your software development projects

What’s the best Jira workflow for software development in 2023? 

There are a wide range of possibilities when it comes to creating Jira workflows. To start with, Jira comes with its own standard software development workflow. This allows you to create, move, and complete simple tasks. For more complex projects, you can design workflows from scratch or purchase existing workflows (along with the right to modify them). 

Unito has guides to help you develop and optimize Jira workflows for:

When designing Jira workflows for software development, an ideal approach is setting up a project with multiple boards – one for each team on the project – and a common workflow to track the work done on each. This approach allows each team to operate the way they need to without having to adopt new processes just for project reporting. 

Unique features of Jira in 2023

The flexibility that Jira offers is truly remarkable. You can find features for pretty much every scenario you might encounter along the path from Jira task creation to completion

Custom access 

Project managers can assign different team members access to different features in their Jira workflow based on permissions. This can provide clarity on who’s changing what at any point in time, and also makes for better project security. 

Work-in-progress limits 

Too many items in WIP mode slow up the workflow. Jira lets you set WIP limits for each column and sends you an alert when that limit is exceeded. The name may sound counterintuitive, but this is extremely useful for rooting out inefficiencies in your workflows.

Extensive search functionality

From quick search to advanced search, to configurable search results, Jira lets you find what you’re looking for within seconds. Jira’s advanced search lets you look up issues through structured queries in the Jira Query Language for a much more efficient method of discovery.

Data-driven automation 

One of the most underrated Jira best practices is workflow automation. Teams can schedule items to be moved automatically through the workflow, based on data attributes like labels or standard/custom fields.  

Challenges of working with Jira (and how to overcome them) in 2023

As is the case with most tools out there, working with Jira has its own set of unique challenges. These aren’t shortcomings by any means – you just need to find ways to work around them. But once you know, you know!

Complex interface

Simply due to the wealth of features and a reliance on agile methodology, some newcomers may find Jira a bit tricky to navigate at first. If that’s the case for you, we’ve got you covered with this beginners’ guide to Jira Cloud. Especially if your team is new to the agile way, picking up the concepts can involve a bit of a learning curve.

Solution: Have a training period to get your software team up to speed on Jira best practices. Moreover, Jira comes with a wealth of plugins to simplify every aspect of the workflow, from design to monitoring to project management. The Atlassian Marketplace lists them all, including staff picks and bestsellers. Or you could follow Verivox’s example and simply migrate your Jira issues to another tool, like ClickUp!

A workflow full of features

Software development teams might want to take advantage of as many features as possible, which could translate to far more statuses, labels, or fields than the workflow actually needs.

Solution: Keep things simple. A good way to approach this is to ask your team to think about what each status adds to the overall value creation process, and keep only the essential ones. Remember – just because you can add an extra step doesn’t mean you always should. But if you insist on going down this route, consider adding a layer of automation to your workflows to keep all your fields in sync.

Teams entrenched in silos

If teams are used to running their projects their way, they may each create their own Jira workflows to suit their needs. While this isn’t a bad idea in and of itself, challenges arise as your organization scales. It’s no easy task to make sense of all those different workflow schemes at the project management level. Simultaneously, making all teams follow the exact same workflow process could disrupt their efficiency and be viewed as a threat to their autonomy.

Solution: Have a standard set of naming conventions that all teams agree to and stick to. For instance, if an issue needs approval before being moved to review, you could agree on an “Approval Pending” status. All teams should stick to that in all their Jira workflows – they can’t rename it “Awaiting Approval” or some other version of the name. This helps to maintain uniformity while allowing teams to work their own way. 

Too many workflows

This can become a challenge if you handle multiple project scenarios that each require a different workflow. As is the case above with teams in silos or too many features, it’s hard for project managers to stay aligned on progress across large organizations with so much going on.

Solution: Have a look at your Jira workflows and find ways to group them by some common factor, such as issue type. Then, design a single workflow for each factor. You’ll still have multiple workflows, but far fewer than if you were to have a separate one for each individual project. 

Additional Jira best practices to keep in mind to stay efficient

  • Involve your teams when creating guidelines: since they’ll be using Jira on a day-to-day basis, empower software team members by letting them have their a say in workflow guidelines. They’ll be happier, more efficient, and if they’ve had experience using it before, you’ll all be better off. Be sure to invite them to share Jira best practices they’ve found useful and that might be relevant.
  • Create an admin group: There should be people across teams who take on the responsibility of creating and upholding Jira best practices. Include at least one admin member from each role on your team, engineers as well as those in design and product management. 
  • Link as much as you can: A big opportunity to streamline Jira workflows lies in link any coding/development work done outside of Jira with Jira projects. This allows everyone to see where their contributions stand in relation to other projects and makes for cleaner, more error-free processes.

How to work with teams that don’t use Jira 

Jira workflows aren’t for everyone. And if you’re partnering with an external agency or a non-IT division of the company, expecting them to pick up Jira may not be feasible. 

You can always export Jira issues using the platform’s built-in features, but that’ll give you a file that becomes out of date the moment you create it. What about when you need live updates from your Jira projects in other tools?

In cases like this, a two-way sync between Jira and the other team’s tool of choice can let you collaborate on spreadsheets, meetings, CRMs, support tools, and so on, while using your respective tools. For instance, Unito offers an automated no-code integration that lets you sync Jira with GitHub, Asana, Trello, and several other tools. You set the rules, and the two-way syncing happens in real-time.

Ready to put these Jira best practices to the test?

It’s okay not to have the perfect workflow right away. Jira is all about iterating as you go to build a balance of autonomy and consistency, especially when working with multiple teams. With these Jira best practices, you’ll be able to take full advantage of its features without getting overwhelmed – and with Unito, you can sync those features with your other tools to build a seamless work environment that drives the results you seek.

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