Maybe you’ve never heard of it before. Maybe you’ve opened the tool a few times when working with the software team. Either way, you’re now at the helm of a project that’s housed in Jira. That means you need to get a handle on Jira, and how it can be used for project management. Quick. Here’s your primer on this popular tool.
Find out what Jira is, how it works, and how you can use it in the context of project management.
What is Jira?
At its core, Jira is a software development tool built with agile teams in mind. That means it’s usually used by developers, product managers, and other people involved in building products. Marketers, salespeople, and customer support agents might need to use Jira to collaborate with a software team, but it’s not really built for their specific role.
That said, Jira is more than serviceable as a project management tool. Its robust features are well-liked by project managers, and they’re not that different from what you’d find in a more general project management tool — like Trello or Asana.
How does Jira work?
At the heart of Jira’s platform is the issue.
Each Jira issue covers the work that’ll happen for a specific task, whether that’s fixing a bug, working towards a new feature, or any of the other tasks a development team can take care of. Note that some issues — namely Epics — represent a larger body of work, itself broken down into a number of issues.
But for the purposes of this task, remember that issue means “a thing that needs to get done.” Issues have fields you can populate to share specific information, like how much time you think it’ll take to complete, when it’ll be done, as well as multimedia attachments.
Issues are organized in Jira projects, which represent a specific goal. From a software development perspective, a migration of a software project from one hosting platform to another could be a project. Building a new feature could be its own project. Whatever your Jira project ends up representing, think of it as a folder on your computer, and the files within it as issues.
Jira features built for project management
While it might not be purpose-built with the average project manager in mind, Jira still boasts a number of features that are essential for project management. Some might need a little adaptation to work exactly the way you want them to, while others are essential for any project.
A product roadmap represents everything that’s going to happen for your product on a timeline. That means you know when important work is going to happen, and usually you’ll get an idea of which tasks need to be completed first before work can continue. Jira has a built-in roadmap future so you can lay out all your issues on a timeline, well-loved by project and product managers.
With project management comes reporting, often a lot of it. You could always draft these manually, or you could use Jira’s built-in features instead. With Jira’s reports, you can get sprint burndown charts, progress reports, velocity charts, and more.
Reports aren’t the only thing you can streamline. With Jira’s automations, you can cut down on the amount of time you spend on the repetitive processes that come with managing projects and focus on more important work. These automations can update important fields, automatically create new issues, and more.
Jira is probably far from the only tool you use for your projects. Some teams have purpose-built tools specific to their roles, while others simple prefer other project management tools. Either way, Jira has built-in integrations you can use to ensure everyone’s up-to-speed without manually copying and pasting data back and forth.
Using Jira with the project management process
Step 1: Project initiation
In this step, you’re doing a few things, from defining your project’s goals to identifying what you’ll actually deliver and who’s going to care the most about your project. In Jira, that’ll usually start with creating a project from one of their many templates.
When you choose a template, you’ll also be asked who you want to invite to your project. That has you thinking about your stakeholders right away.
Step 2: Project planning
Once you’ve created your project, it’s time to figure out what’s going to get done. At this stage, you’re creating Jira issues, adding detail to them to reflect the work that needs to get done, and assigning them to people.
Make sure to create an issue to represent every piece of work that needs to happen. More work might pop up as your project proceeds; that’s fine! Just create new issues to represent these tasks.
Step 3: Project execution
This is when the work really happens. As a project manager, much of your time will be spent putting out fires, making sure everyone’s on task, and managing resources along the way. That means going into Jira issues to keep track of how much time everyone’s spending on their tasks.
Check in on your project regularly, use notifications to warn you when specific issues have updates, and always communicate with your team. Jira’s comments make that simple enough, but you can supplement this with a chat app like Slack.
Step 4: Project monitoring
Project managers have a lot of responsibilities, and one of them involves monitoring a project’s progress. When using Jira for project management, that means keeping an eye on the various reports you have access to.
A big part of this step is to ensure that everyone sticks to the plan. That means referring to the project structure you laid out initially, checking in on important issues, and helping the team course-correct when need be.
Step 5: Project completion
This is the easy part; once all the work’s been completed, all that’s left to do is update the stakeholders! Go through the Jira issues you’ve closed, collect the deliverables you need, and prepare to present them to the project’s stakeholders. You can use Jira’s reports to do this, or just take stakeholders on a guided tour of your completed project, highlighting the issues that represent the most important work the team did.
Don’t want to use Jira for project management?
Now that you know how to use Jira for project management, do you think it’ll suit your needs? While it’s a powerful tool, it definitely has a strong focus on software development projects, meaning it’s not necessarily well-suited to every project. So what if you’re working on a project that involves multiple teams, and only some of them want to work in Jira?
You use Unito.
Unito is a no-code workflow management solution with some of the deepest two-way integrations for the most popular tools on the market, including Jira, Asana, Trello, and more. With a Unito flow, you can automatically sync Jira issues with tasks from your project management tool of choice, meaning everyone can stay in the loop, no matter which tool they use.
Want to know more?
Get a full breakdown of Unito's integration for Jira, including supported fields, use cases, and ideal tool pairings.