Jira, made by Atlassian, has flourished to become one of the most prolific project management tools in the last few years used, loved by software development and engineering teams, managed services providers and content development teams alike. Jira is an issue tracking system. It enables teams to document the work they need to do, show the rest of the team what they are doing, show statuses, plan out their work, collaborate on work, and so much more. In short, it's the ultimate collaboration tool.
Why has Jira grown so rapidly in popularity?
While Jira has been around for over 10 years, its rapid growth stems from three key things:
1. It's super simple to use compared to competitors.
2. It's easy to setup, even with little Jira knowledge, and it can be ready in a few days.
3. It's very inexpensive to get started, perfect for small teams.
Jira's growth has been organic. In the beginning, individual engineers and development teams would use the software even without a company mandate. When faced with the option of tedious Word docs or Excel spreadsheets versus expensive lofty enterprise software, Jira was embraced as the optimal choice.
The challenge with organic growth is that Jira can sometimes be setup incorrectly or inconsistently if everyone isn't following the same approach and working together. This can cause problems in the long-term or when the team grows.
The quality control conundrum
Here is a common scenario. One corporate engineering department needs a Jira field that does "X". That department decides they need a slight change to the workflow. The Jira manager doesn’t want to be the one to make the changes for another team so they provide admin permission to anyone on that team. The engineering team changes the system so that it no longer accurately does what the company has always relied on it to do. There is no quality control. Suddenly, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) wants a report to show what all the teams are working on. Unfortunately, every team has its own fields and architecture, so the system has just become one giant mess and reporting is useless.
Top three tips to avoid issues on JIRA
Our Senior Atlassian Expert, Paul Heer, shares the top three tips for running Jira to avoid long-term problems:
1. Assume going in that the tool is going to become widely used.
- By setting Jira to be managed and maintained as a company-wide tool, you avoid the arduous process of needing to reconfigure the tool later on so that everyone in the company can continue to use it.
- Don’t give everyone administrator privileges. This is critical!
2. Keep it as simple as possible and only as complex as needed.
- Be careful how you reuse statuses. For example, there may be a status for Close and Finish. If they mean the same thing, choose one and go with it. This way, when your CTO asks how many issues you closed last year, you won’t have to review all the issues that are Closed or Finished or Done or Completed because you didn’t standardize it.
- Plus, don’t make a custom field just because somebody asks for it. Reuse as much as possible.
3. Administrators can, and should, push as much work to the project administrator as possible.
- You can allow a project administrator to set what they can control. This includes the names of project members and what they're able to do. If you skip this process, you could end up with 100 projects on the system. One person can’t possibly manage every project variation – unless it's their full-time job.
- Project administrators should only control their projects with limited access to features. On the other hand, the Jira administrator controls workflows, field creation, global features, etcetera. This avoids confusion, overlap and conflict.
Enjoy Jira, don't fear it
Jira is a helpful tool but don’t be afraid to make changes to the system; you're not going to get it right the first time. Also, don’t fear add-ons. They may be a big help to your team’s productivity. The whole system is designed to give you basic functionality. It's built for add-ons, so get out there and experiment!
Enjoy the productivity increases Jira has to offer and contact Appnovation if you need any help.