Owning any type of business nowadays requires a lot of passion, flexibility and agility. Even if you own a small business or startup, you will need to find ways you can control and manage your company’s work in order to understand the way your employees perform, how productive they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, etc. Moreover, you have to make sure all tasks are completed in time and all the goals are met.
Those are the reasons people ultimately start using task and team management tools, such as Trello and, obviously, Jira. These tools are meant to put everything in its place and get a clear perspective on what’s going on in your team.
The great thing about such tools is that you can spend a few minutes and get an insight into what your team is currently working on, what the struggles are, what your team is most successful in and so on.
In this day and age, when you don’t always have the time to have another cup of coffee, such tools are an incredible help, as they save time, while providing you with all the necessary data. Plus, if you need, you can always get back and revisit whatever was being done a week or two ago or even months ago.
That being said, there are quite a few project and task management tools out there today. This includes Trello, Asana and, one of the latest and most powerful tools, JIRA developed by Atlassian.
JIRA involves a wide range of features that make project management as simple as possible, if you use the tool right. It was originally meant for developers, today it has become a highly effective tool that helps organizations of various sizes – from small to incredibly large – to focus on progress and productivity.
Since you’re reading this article, it means you’re new to JIRA or just haven’t yet figured it out in its completeness. It’s your luck that you’re here, as we, at Vectorly, have created this simple, but detailed guide on how you can get started with JIRA and then use it effectively for your company’s benefit and team’s progress.
JIRA Is an Agile Solution
JIRA is essentially a highly customizable, centralized project management system. All the project managed in it are logged to a central database, where each of them is involved in various processes, known as workflows. Each project’s progress and its transition to other statuses are controlled by workflows.
The system has a built-in agile methodology. Agile is a framework for software development based on four principles, as follows:
- Individuals and interactions come first, not tools and processes
- Working software has a priority over extensive documentation
- Client collaboration comes before contract negotiations
- Reacting to change comes before accomplishing a plan
The project management system in JIRA is built around these exact principles. Its key components are customization and user flexibility.
Main JIRA Components
Writing a full review of all of JIRA’s functions, components and advantages would take more than just this one article, because it’s a complex and highly customizable project management tool, as we’ve mentioned above. But, you can start using it by simply getting the main idea of how it all works and stacks up together.
Workflows in JIRA represent processes in your company. You can customize them for projects, issues and subtasks. Anything that you need to put through one or more processes may be part of a workflow.
JIRA project management workflows represent processes in your organization, and they can be customized for projects, issues, and subtasks. Anything that needs to be put through a process or multiple processes can be part of a workflow. Each workflow has transitions and statuses. By customizing these, you will be capable of keeping track of a project’s or task’s progress in the most detailed way possible.
While there are some inbuilt workflows in JIRA, the best part about them is their customizability. In other words, you are given a possibility to design individual workflows from square one, so they meet your team’s particular needs. You can also visit the Atlassian Marketplace and download pre-built workflows, if you don’t have time for that.
While tracking is important, workflows provide you with far more than that. If you need, you might set up additional approval conditions for particular tasks.
Moreover, the platform provides you with functions that get automatically triggered during transitions, so you know when exactly a project has moved on to another stage. In other words, there are quite a few inbuilt features that make workflows an incredibly powerful tools, but they’re also the core of the entire system.
Tracking of Time and Progress
You can use JIRA for tracking work time for particular projects and tasks, if you integrate it with time-tracking power-ups.
JIRA allows you to follow progress just as it happens. You can enable screenshots (either constant or one-time, or however many times a minute you need) and receive precise timesheets for your entire team. There are various extensions for browsers that allow you to track time for tasks your team is actively working on through JIRA.
Starting the timer and stopping it when switching tasks is as simple as ever, so you’ll never have a problem of time running on a task that’s not being worked on. There are time trackers you can integrate with JIRA that offer multi-platform desktop and mobile apps, so even if your team members use different platforms and operating systems, you can find a solution that would suit everyone in your company.
Same as other features, permissions in JIRA are customizable and very flexible. You can enable particular team members to edit, comment on tasks or even assign new tasks in your team. And, in case you need to change permissions in the thick of a project, you can easily do it, too.
In addition, JIRA allows you to provide permissions based on security standards. For example, you don’t want some particular members of your team to see certain problems within a project, so you only let them see the project in its entirety, but not these particular matters.
Most often, you would need such measures to not let short-term workers or freelancers see company-sensitive data, while still letting them do their job.
Project Milestones and Phases
All projects managed through JIRA fall into four phases (or levels), which helps keep everything in its place and not get lost in details.
Level 1 – this phase contains project categories, i.e. overall topics;
Level 2 – this is where you have all the current projects; this phase also displays project subsections and milestones;
Level 3 – this phase contains particular issues, such as project goals; in order to move forward, you will have to accomplish these issues;
Level 4 – this phase is all about subtasks, providing you with the ability to manage smaller parts of more complex structures.
This organization method could seem a bit complicated in the beginning. But, the more time you spend doing this, the more intuitive it becomes. Considering the fact that JIRA has amazing organizational functions, you won’t have issues finding whatever you need in terms of accomplishing this or that.
Summaries and Reports
Using JIRA, you can check project summaries to get a clearer idea of recent activity, upcoming due dates and other important information that will provide you a general idea of how your project is going right now.
And once again, it’s all about flexibility. You can set the reports, as you need them: for popular issues, open issues or even particular team members. This simply means that you can get a deeper look into a project in progress at any given moment. These reports and summaries will help you get a clearer understanding of whether a project is going to be finished by the set deadline, whether a certain team member completes their work hours and many other things. And you’ll only have to do a few clicks to get all that data right onto your screen.
Power-ups are basically integrations and plugins for JIRA. There are well over 1,500 power-ups on the Atlassian marketplace – some of them are free and some are paid. Depending on your project and your particular needs, you can add plugins that will help you track time, emphasize on talent, focus on goals, etc.
Some of the most popular JIRA power-ups include:
· Slack – an extension meant for better and more productive team communication;
· Outlook – integrate your email with JIRA and forget about switching tabs in your browser;
· Google Sheets – allows exporting issues directly to Sheets; simplifies tracking;
· Salesfoce – provides automatic data exchange between your CRM platform and JIRA;
· ScriptRunner – set of features that help enhance and automate your workflows;
· Git Integration – shows Git branches, commits and tags directly in JIRA;
· JIRA Workflow Toolbox – adds validators, conditions and post-functions to your workflows;
· Structure – adds cross-project and multi-level hierarchies to your workflow;
· Easybi Reports and Charts for JIRA – helps creating charts, dashboard gadgets and reports.
JIRA and Vectorly – Manage Your Talent the Right Way
As you may already know, our tool – Vectorly – is meant to help you manage your project goal achievement and talent, emphasizing on your employee’s strengths and revealing their weaknesses.
We want you to make learning part of your workflow through constant improvement, while accomplishing the set objectives. Now, what does it have to do with JIRA, anyway? Obviously, Vectorly is available as a power-up for the platform. And one of the best things about it is that you can integrate it with your JIRA workflow absolutely for free.
While tracking time and progress is incredibly important, you won’t get a deep enough insight into your team’s abilities without knowing where each of its members stands exactly.
Using Vectorly, you will be able to track progress and goal accomplishment, while seeing what talents each of your employees displays in process. This will provide you with an understanding of what your team excels on and how you can help it improve its performance, productivity and simply become better professionals.
You can find Vectorly either on the Atlassian Marketplace or by visiting Vectorly.team and signing up for a free trial. Give it a try and see how your team starts to transform into something new and more successful, than ever.