What is Jira?
Jira by Atlassian is an issue tracking software solution which offers advanced project management capabilities and features. Whilst it is commonly used for software development teams, the solution has wider industry application, and can be used in any environment where teams need to work together on common tasks and projects. The platform is suitable for companies of any size, and helps teams collaborate and share information, with tools like Scrum and Kanban Boards, task management and assignment, workflows, roadmaps, and agile reporting.
Jira actually comprises a number of separate products – Jira Software, which is project and issue tracking software; Jira Service Desk, an IT service desk and customer service facility; Jira Ops, which offers incident management; and Jira Core for essential business management. In addition there is Statuspage for incident communication, and Ops Genie, powerful alerting and on-call management.
In addition the program provides a feature rich service desk implementation. This enables departments to instantly collect customer requests and to prioritise them in queues, improving team productivity and customer satisfaction. The program also offers extensive integration with an extensive range of third party business programs and applications, which extends it functionality and capabilities.
Jira’s current client roster includes leading global brand names like LinkedIn, Cisco, Adobe, Salesforce, BMW and NASA.
The benefits of Jira include, inter alia:
Flexible Project Management
The program encompasses a range of agile project management tools like Scrum boards, Kanban boards, and roads, whilst offering high flexible reporting functionality. These tools help foster collaboration and communication across an organisation, and helps ensure that no issues or tasks are missed for one reason or another. Instant notifications are sent to team members of issues that are important to them, and ideas and documents shared by teams and departments.
Third party integrations and apps
Jira offers integration with literally thousands of third party solutions, business solutions, plug-ins and add-ons, ranging from CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to Project Management Systems, Document Management to Workflow Automation solutions, and scheduling and time tracking software. Furthermore, it offers an open API so developers can integrate the platform with their existing business systems.
The solution offers native mobile apps for Android and iOS users which mean that it can be accessed remotely by individuals and teams with no loss of functionality or impairment of capabilities. Users are able remotely to complete all tasks and access all data held in their database.
Advanced Search Capability
Jira includes a Query Language feature that comprises advanced search algorithm enabling users to find information fast and with a minimum of effort.
The main features of Jira are:
A scrum refers to a process for managing software delivery, and falls within the broader discipline of agile project management. It is a means of organising software developers into teams with the objective of reaching a common goal, such as launching a new product, or releasing a major program update.
Underpinning the idea of a scrum is another software development concept called a sprint, which comprises the period of time that software development work actually takes place. A sprint can last a week or a month (usually not longer), with the goal to create a sellable product, or an optimised new release. Once a sprint is finished, a review meeting is held, and then a new sprint begins. Daily scrums are held to monitor progress – brief meetings where teams meet to discuss their progress and plans for the day.
In Jira, Scrum Boards help make all Sprint items visible to an entire team. They are fully customisable and typically are divided into three categories – To Do, Work in Progress, and Done. In addition teams may want to add their own categories to Scrum Boards to fit their own workflows, such as Testing and Verify.
Kanban Boards are another powerful visual project management tool that enable users to optimise the flow of their work, and, like Scrum Boards, are associated with the discipline of Agile Project Management. They display how work moves in a horizontal format, from left to right, with each column representing a stage in an overall process, or project. Again, Kanban Boards in Jira can be sub-divided into categories, such as to do, in progress, in review and done.
Epics and Stories
Another Agile Project Management technique that Jira embraces is the use of epics and stories. Sn epic is the term used to describe a large body of work that can be broken down into a number of separable and distinct tasks.
These smaller tasks are called stories. They are an effective way of documenting product backlog items. They are frequently written from the end user’s point of view.
Jira offers internal development teams access to more than a dozen standard reports which offer teams actionable and real-time insights into their performance across multiple sprints. These include:
A Burndown Chart: This helps a team manage its progress by tracking the total work remaining, and projects the likelihood of achieving the goal of a particular sprint.
A Burn-up Chart: Another chart to help teams measure their progress, this tracks the total scope of a project or sprint independently of the work that has been done. It helps users to better understand the effect of a change in scope.
Sprint Report: This shows the list of issues contained in each sprint. It is a useful tool for mid-sprint progress checks, and also sprint retrospective meetings.
Velocity Report: This track shows how much value has been delivered in each sprint. Using it helps to predict how much work a team can achieve in future sprints, ensuring that team leaders are not over-optimistic when it comes to decide how much work they can commit to feasibly.
Version Report: This report shows the progress of a team towards the completion of a software version. It also shows the predicted release date, based on the average rate of progress of a team since the start of a version, as well as an estimate of the amount of work that is remaining.
These allow project managers and software development teams to provide stakeholders with a big picture of what work is in progress, significant milestones and deadlines, as well as potential roadblocks, all with a few clicks.
Using roadmaps, teams can build a visual roadmap timeline of their project issues, and then split scheduled work into “swimlanes” – high level work streams that represent customer, or teams’, outcomes. Date markets can be added to the roadmap to show major events and milestones, and filters applied to provide more detailed views. Issues can be scheduled by simply dragging and dropping them onto the roadmap timeline, and progress tracked towards project or sprint completion. Version details can be edited without leaving the timeline, whilst roadmaps can be exported in pdf format so they can be shared with other stakeholders.
Roadmaps work seamlessly in Jira with Scrum and Kanban Boards.
Workflows are designed to help development teams plan, track and release first-class software by systemising a series of sequential tasks that need to be completed. Users can start with an existing template or create their own customised version that fits the culture and the way of working of their organisation. A workflow in Jira is represented on a digital board which is used to represent the status – for example, to do, in progress, or done – and key milestones for every item of work. This helps team member’s understand not only their own workload, but also that of their colleagues as well.
They can also help team members identify any potential obstacles to progress, and schedule team meetings to discuss how to resolve them, or to deploy extra resource to overcome them. Workflows can also help development teams predict, with much greater accuracy, when something will be finished and released to users.
Users can search workflows in a variety of ways – by function, condition, workflow, or transition name, or by implementation class. Each search filed in Jira has autocomplete options for the main search criteria. The search function can also be used to edit and view workflows.
Jira’s Workflow PowerBox contains a range of reusable templates for workflow conditions, validators and post functions, plus a miscellaneous set of useful workflow extensions.
Jira has two pricing models, depending on whether a subscriber has opted for the cloud-hosted solution, or prefers on premise deployment instead. Additionally, it is priced according to the number of users.
Cloud: The vendor offers cloud users a free 7-day trial. Thereafter, there is a special price for small teams with up to 10 users, who pay a flat fee of US $10 a month. Teams with 11 – 100 members pay an additional US $7 per user per month. For teams of more than 100, prospective users can calculate the incremental cost by using the calculator on their website.
Self-hosted: This option offers users a free 30-day trial. Thereafter, for a single server deployment, users need to make a one-time payment of US 10 for up to 10 users. This price then scales as the number of users increase – 100 users, for example, requires a one-time payment of US $8,300.
In addition, for enterprise organisations, the vendor offers the Jira Data Center, which takes all the features of the software and service desk, and supports them with high availability capabilities – load-balancing, database clustering and shared file systems – and performance at scale to improve response times and minimise downtime in the event of unexpected hardware failures.
This starts with an annual fee of US $12,000 a year for 10 users; this scales according to the number of users.
Jira is a web-based platform that supports Windows, Mac and Linux operating system. It is available for deployment either as a cloud-hosted application or can be deployed on premise and installed on local company servers. In addition, the vendor offers a mobile app – Mobility for Jira – available for Android and iOS devices. This provides mobile teams and individuals with full program access and features.
In terms of security, all Atlassian cloud server data is encrypted using TLS (Transport Layer Security) with Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). The vendor undertakes regular rigorous security testing which involves manual code reviews, automated scanning, threat-modelling, and third-party assessments. They also have a security team which is dedicated to monitoring any signs of potential data breaches.
The application offers a REST (Representational State Transfer) API which provides integration with a multitude of third party applications and add-ons through the Atlassian Marketplace – these include CRM, Chat, Customer Support, Project Management, and Document Management programs and many more. Amongst the popular products supported through this integration capabilities are Salesforce, Confluence, Bitbucket, Hipchat and Bamboo.
All cloud data is served in highly protected and secured data centers, with geo-redundancy and disaster recovery contingency plans. In addition the vendor is constantly looking to improve the performance of the application by monitoring metrics like load times, search responsiveness and attachments, as well as how quickly applications are delivered from their data centers to users’ browsers.
Direct technical support is primarily offered through an online ticketing system. In addition, the company can also be contacted by email and by phone at one of their 10 regional offices, although this is primarily for sales-based enquiries.
There is also the option to contact the vendor through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
In terms of self-service functionality, subscribers can access the Atlassain Community, where they can find answers, product ideas and suggestions from other Jira users. They can also access product guides, documentation and tips, FAQs, video tutorials, as well as a Knowledge Base. There is also a blog section which contains useful product information as well as coverage of generic business topics.
The Atlassain University meanwhile offers a range of online learning opportunities, with live training and self-taught e-learning courses for teams and individuals, as well as the opportunity for individual team members to become certified Atlassian professionals.
In addition, subscribers have access to Atlassian Experts – a worldwide support base who can offer assistance with system set-up and configuration.