Jira is a team management program from Atlassian. It is used in IT projects working according to Agile methodologies. Thanks to this tool, it’s possible to ease creation of anything from a simple digital platform to a versatile website, like www.playamo.com/ja or Amazon.
The program resembles a task tracker like Todoist in its functions. It describes and distributes tasks between the team members, fixes deadlines, tracks project progress. All of these activities can be recorded in a regular notebook, but Jira’s advantage is visualization and sharing. Each participant can make changes, and all data is saved in the cloud. When a company is working on 5-10 projects at once, Jira helps to stay efficient and soberly assess their own strengths.
And Jira is free for teams of up to 10 people. Therefore, it’s often used by startups and small companies.
What Do You Need Jira for?
Jira is mostly used to manage projects in accordance with Agile principles. Instead of planning the development from beginning to end, the team divides the process into small steps or “sprints”.
Each sprint is 1-2 weeks of intensive work on a particular aspect of the product. For example, improving the algorithm of recommendations in the online store. This approach helps to quickly evaluate the result and find ideas for improvement, which is why Agile is called an agile methodology.
To follow Agile principles, teams organize the process according to Scrum and Kanban models. There are a lot of similarities between these approaches, the main difference – in Scrum, there is a stricter distribution of roles and increased attention to sprints.
In 1-2 weeks, a lot of tasks are performed: some of them are successful, others have problems. At the beginning of the next sprint, you need to take the results of the past into account and build a new effective plan. Jira helps to track the status of tasks, monitor the workload and productivity of the Agile team.
For convenience, all tasks are placed on a Kanban board. Usually they are placed in 3 categories: to do, in progress, done. You may add your own columns, for example, tasks of testing phase.
What Types of Tasks Jira Handles
The developers love Jira because it allows them to collect all the information about a project in one place. In addition to development, marketing, analytics, and other projects are tracked in it.
The main tasks that Jira solves are:
- Work planning and backlog compilation.
- Development of roadmap.
- Distribution and discussion of tasks.
- Commenting on tasks.
- Progress tracking.
- Analyzing employee productivity.
An additional convenience of the program is in collecting analytics on the project. Algorithms will calculate how effectively tasks are performed, at what stages problems arise, help to highlight the potential burnout of employees. These tasks are the responsibility of a project manager or a Scrum master. So, they are usually responsible for organizing the workspace in Jira.
Atlassian has also developed an analogue of Google Docs – Confluence. Often the programs are used in tandem: Jira monitors tasks, and Confluence describes and discusses requirements for them.
How to Improve Team Processes
Divide Tasks Into Smaller Ones
Each task should be concise and performed in one action. “Develop an algorithm of recommendations” is a separate stage of work, which is better split into 2-3 subtasks. This approach will help to reduce turnaround time, it will be easier for the employee to deal with a single problem, solve it and move on to the next one. It is not terrible if there are more tasks, you save on the overall project time. It’s easier to track progress and highlight bottlenecks that stall the work.
Comment extensively and in detail. By collecting all the information in one place, you reduce the risk of losing important data, such as errors that occurred. The whole team will know about the problems and solve them faster without slowing down the work process.
This is where the logs, the files that record the changes in the project, come in handy. Keep all the key changes, so you won’t lose important information and can return to the previous version of the project at any time.
At the beginning of a new sprint, be clear about the goals, number of tasks and people in charge. This will help you avoid confusion and save a lot of time. Productive teams understand which tasks require more time, what to focus on, and what to put off. This approach increases productivity and saves the team from burnout.
Tools Similar to Jira
The interface of the program is a kanban board. Each task has a name, description, comments and an executor. Trello is more suitable for organizing the work of a single department or project, it’s difficult to organize a complex process. It also has no analytical tools.
Basecamp has all the functions of setting and controlling tasks. The main difference is the chat for employee communication and automatic checklists. The creators of Basecamp have tried to create a single space for autonomous communications between the team.
Notion can also be used to create a unified workspace. It has a kanban board, calendar, wordpress pages, checklists, and more. If you need to create a full-fledged “knowledge base” for your company, Notion can do it.