If you work in development, there’s a good chance you know Jira inside and out. But for just about everyone else, any mention of the tool is likely to cause involuntary shudders and furrowed brows.
Many non-developers look at the intricacies and complexities of Jira and want nothing to do with it. But when you work on projects that require development support, you can really benefit from having an understanding of how they manage their projects.
Jira was one of the earliest Agile-based project management tools, and there’s a reason development teams have adopted it so readily.
Why project managers will love Jira
There are a few aspects of Jira that make it particularly appealing for project managers.
First of all, it’s extremely customizable. Jira is basically a blank slate that project managers can build on, and that’s a huge asset if you’re in the market for a customized solution. Of course, you don’t actually have to start from scratch — there’s endless examples to copy.
Features include Agile reporting, roadmaps, scrum boards, and Kanban boards. It’s also great for bug tracking. Jira was first developed by Atlassian to track bugs, and the tool remains very, very good at it.
Finally, Jira has an entire marketplace full of apps that will help you tackle just about any problem thrown your way, and integrate many of the other tools in your workflow.
Simple tips and tricks for project management on Jira
Jira has a ton of unique capabilities and add-ons to help you run your project. Whether you’re a project manager who often works with developers, or someone looking to explore the tool for yourself, here are some tips you will want to keep in mind.
Use the Jira project poster
This useful offline tool helps you work out and communicate the scope of the problem your team is trying to solve, as well as how to solve it. By getting all your stakeholders involved in filling out (and revisiting, and revising) a project poster template, you can clearly define your problems, identify and challenge incorrect assumptions, solicit feedback, and validate the work you’re doing.
Search with Jira Query Language
Most users should be able to get by just fine with Jira’s basic search features, but if you really need to hunt down an issue lost deep within a large and complex project, you might need to set up an advanced search with Jira Query Language (JQL). After creating a JQL search, you can use it as a filter for your subscriptions, dashboard, Agile boards, project portfolio, and more.
Make a beautiful dashboard
A good dashboard, at its very core, communicates relevant information to its users. It should act as a call to action — a way to show your team members what they’re supposed to be doing, why it matters, and where to start. Jira lets you customize dashboards with gadgets and other features, so there’s no excuse for having boring, uninspiring dashboards. Here are a few of the things we like to see on a Jira dashboard:
- The Sprint Health Gadget: You can pull data from an Agile board to inform this gadget, which creates a live “health meter” that displays a summary of key metrics in a Sprint.
- The Sprint Burndown Gadget: Want to see how your team is progressing through a Sprint? The Burndown Gadget will show you and your team if the Sprint is hitting its key objectives on time. You just need to provide accurate estimates of how much time your team will need for each objective when you set up the gadget.
- High-priority issues: Want your dashboard to display a running list of high-priority issues? You just need to set up a JQL filter that looks for issues with the “Flagged” field selected. Since flags should be reserved for issues that are blocking the project from moving forward, this will show you which problems need to be dealt with ASAP.
- The Assigned To Me Gadget : Don’t forget this essential gadget, which automatically pulls all the tasks assigned to a particular team member and displays them in a list on their dashboard.
Remember, if you’re working with multiple teams, you can place more than one copy of the same gadget on a dashboard. If it’s relevant for Team A to know how Team B is doing, just put Team B’s Sprint Health Gadget on Team A’s dashboard.
Getting started with Jira
Maybe Jira isn’t as pretty or as easily onboarded as Asana or Trello, but it brings a lot of worthwhile features and flexibility to the table. Atlassian offers a great six-step guide for getting started with Jira that walks you through how to create a project, pick a template, set up your board, and more.
Check it out and see why Jira is one of the most-used project management tools in the world.
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