Jira Software is a powerful tool deployed in so many organizations, yet in day to day usage people are missing out on improvements, big and small.
I am an Atlassian certified trainer and over the years I have been spending much time with clients and their Jiras. In this blogpost, I have collected some small tips and tricks that will make your Jira usage better.
A common mistake when adapting Jira is to model some ideal workflow, with constraints and mandatory transitions. If this workflow does not match how work is actually done in the business, this will introduce a ton of friction, and hinder Jira adoption.
Create a workflow that matches your reality, then start improving both the actual and modelled workflow.
This can be useful for: planning epics in a separate project in large organizations enabling tasks in projects to larger business initiatives, that might not create business value in the team performing the task.
Often people can be afraid to create projects, and managers want everything in a single board.
Create the projects you need to support the teams you have, then create boards on top of that to create the overview that managers or other stakeholders need.
Jira is perhaps overly customizable, but one place you definitely should customize is to create a personal dashboard. Make sure that the first thing you see when you enter Jira is exactly the overview you need. The tasks that are assigned to you, for instance.
I am a sucker for keyboard navigation, and I was pleased when I noticed I could jump between selected issues using j and k. This allows for more non-mouse interaction, which is a win in my book.
There are many different things that can be done anywhere from Jira, and it can be hard to get an overview. So press period and start typing to search for possible actions you can take. I commonly search for “create sub-task” or “convert”.
A common complaint from the above is that too much work is happening without a task created for it. Then I look at their Jira configuration and see that for even the simplest tasks, it takes a herculean effort to fill out the form correctly. Engineers are quick to find the path of least resistance and skip creating tasks for small jobs.
Make sure the effort it takes to create a task matches the complexity of the work being described.
Creating a task should be trivial, and as we can enrich a task with more information over time, there should be no or a low barrier to creating a task. Then we can add some requirements to what is needed before a task is workable.
Keep tinkering and improving your projects and boards to show the information you and the team need. Too many teams simply use what comes out of the box, without any thought to what is usable and what can be cut.
Using a filter you can create a board only for you, just with the tasks that you are interested in. Decoupling this board configuration from the underlying project boards can make you more effective and happier.
Continuous Improvement is king, and the control chart is a powerful view into cycle time and flow through projects. Look at this before going into a retrospective and consider if any outliers should be cause for discussion.
Complex issue types can lead to very cluttered create or edit screens. You can customize which fields will be shown to you personally. Note that this change does not impact other users.
In Jira Software you can type `ga` from any screen to go the agile board, you last visited. This helps you always find your place.
To directly start a search, type `/` and the phrase what you want to search for. This will again spare your mouse motion.
When you have selected an issue you can press `i` to assign the issue to yourself and ‘a’ to open the assign dialogue. Quick and easy!
I have seen many complex board setups. And one configuration I often see overly implemented by eager administrators, is having many different swimlanes. They can be based on epics, assignees or an arbitrarily complex query.
This makes it difficult to get an overview and see what is going on. For me that is the entire purpose of Jira. So, I recommend you use only one swimlane for your board, and that is impeded issues. This makes it clear what needs to be looked into and what is business as usual.
Too many people treat the backlog as a graveyard, so when approached they can always say “Yes, it is in the backlog”, without any intention to ever work on the issue. This is dishonest and creates clutter. So as Dominica DeGrandis recommends, once in a while find the oldest issues and either close them or prioritize them.
Many users do not know that the information that can be seen on the issue detail view is configurable. This can help create a better user experience and remove clutter.
Using components and versions not only allows for great grouping and categorization, it also helps build better reports and forecasts.
If you are logging work in Jira, make sure you do it continuously rather than at the end of the day or week. When you do work on a task, log the work.
These were the 20 Atlassian Jira tips for 2019, I hope you found them useful! Software developers et al, let me know what your favorite Jira tips and tricks are in the comments section!
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