Published on January 15, 2020

20 Jira tips to make your day easier

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.

#1 - Model the workflow you are using. Not the one described in a Word document on SharePoint

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.

#3 - Don’t be afraid to create multiple projects and aggregate them on a board

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.

#4 - Create personal dashboards, else you are missing out!

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.

#5 - You can navigate between selected issues using `j` and `k`

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.

#6 - Use the . menu on any screen to search for options

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”.

#7 - Limit the number of mandatory fields. A simple task should be simple to create. A larger task can be more complex to create.

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.

#8 - Lower the quality requirement to create a task, raise the quality requirement for a task to be workable

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.

#9 - Continuously adapt the card layout both in the backlog and active sprint to get the overview you need!

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.

#10 - Create a personal board – just for you! It will be liberating!

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.

#11 - The control chart is your friend. Learn to read it, it is a powerful continuous improvement tool!

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.

#12 - Use the custom field selection to hide or show exactly the fields you need on the edit and create screen

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.

#13 - Type `ga` to go to your latest visited agile board

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.

#14 - Type `/` to start searching

To directly start a search, type `/` and the phrase what you want to search for. This will again spare your mouse motion.

#15 - Use `a` to open assign dialogue, use `i` to assign to yourself.

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!

#16 - Create a swimlane only with impeded issues

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.

#17 - Once in a while, find the oldest items in your backlog and prioritize them or discard them.

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.

#18 - The issue detail view can be configured on the board.

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.

#19 - Components and versions allow for great reporting and forecasting

Using components and versions not only allows for great grouping and categorization, it also helps build better reports and forecasts.

#20- Remember to log time and transition tasks as you work on them. Don’t bundle the bookkeeping.

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!

Author: Johan Sigfred Abildskov

Read more about Johan


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