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What is Jira and how is it used in Digital Project Management?

By Academy Xi

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What is Jira, how is it used in project management

Managing a digital project can quickly become a headache, unless you’ve got a powerful management tool synchronising your whole team. Luckily, Atlassian’s popular software application Jira can do just that. 

What Is JIRA?

In the simplest terms, Jira is a software application that allows teams to manage projects, track issues and automate their workflows. However, Jira is a bit of a swiss army knife, offering all kinds of tools and functionalities – many of which we’ll explore below. 

Developed by Australian software giant Atlassian, Jira is popular in software development, as well as being commonly used by teams following the Agile methodology. Its popularity has risen dramatically in recent years in parallel with the growth of digital industries. 

What are Jira’s uses in Digital Project Management?

Initially designed so software engineers and programmers could track and fix bugs in their code, Jira is tailor made for teams working in the digital space. 

Jira can be configured to facilitate digital projects of all sizes and types, assisting teams from ideation all the way to project delivery. Digital Project Managers rely on Jira for a raft of day-to-day responsibilities, including:

✔️Agile Project Management – JIRA software provides Scrum and Kanban boards for teams using Agile methodologies (more on this in a bit!)

✔️Product Roadmapping – JIRA offers an interactive dashboard for your Product Roadmaps, helping you share a project’s direction and progress with all involved

✔️Assigning Tasks –JIRA makes it easy to create tasks, complete with detailed requirements, due dates and reminders

✔️Testing – Jira can be used to manage manual and automated tests

JIRA for sprint planning

Teams using Agile scrums will create a backlog of features and tasks that need to be completed before a project can be successfully delivered. Planning sessions usually kick off a sprint and are used to decide which parts of a backlog to prioritise next. This clarifies:

  • What work will be completed
  • How long it will take
  • Who will complete it

Jira offers a range of tools within its scrum boards to help you maintain and monitor your project backlog. This gives the whole team full visibility over the current state of your project, as well as any progress anticipated in the short and long-term.  

Tracking and managing sprints with Jira

Once your sprint is underway, Jira also comes in handy with ongoing tracking and management. Managing sprints in Jira is easy-as-pie thanks to the long list of powerful reports that the platform provides. 

Jira produces a wealth of information as you progress through the sprint, helping you evaluate your team’s performance and likelihood of reaching your goals on schedule. 

In the Jira sidebar, you’ll find the super useful and aptly named ‘Sprint Report’. This shows the status of all the issues in the sprint, whether they’ve been completed or not, as well as any newly added items in your backlog. 

The report also includes a number of informative, data-packed visualisations:

  • The ‘Burndown Chart’ shows the work your team’s already completed and any outstanding tasks, plotted against your predicted timeline. This allows you to compare what has been forecast with what has actually happened, enabling you to keep realistic timelines and manage stakeholder expectations. 
  • The ‘Velocity Chart’ shows all the work your team has ticked off in each sprint and the speed they’ve completed it at. The chart is updated automatically and useful for getting a snapshot of your team’s capacity, helping you decide if your spring targets are too high or low. 
  • The ‘Control Chart’ breaks down how many issues each backlog task has involved, as well as how long each issue has taken to resolve. This indicates how many issues you’re likely to face, and how many items in the backlog your team can handle at any given time (this is crucial information for load management and project planning!).

Jira for daily scrums or standups

A key ingredient in the scrum methodology is transparency. Most Agile sprints are punctuated by daily scrum and standup meetings. These meetings address what the team is working on, any upcoming challenges, and how the team proposes to deal with them. It’s also a great opportunity to share any significant wins and keep team morale boosted!

Stand ups and scrum meetings keep everyone informed, up-to-date, and working in sync. They also give an all-important opportunity for team members to ask for advice and share feedback. 

It’s common to incorporate Jira reports into these meetings. However, keep the reporting high-level – standups and scrum meetings shouldn’t get too bogged down in the details. Using Jira’s filters to review your open issues and recently updated items will give everyone  a clear overview of the team’s activity and any big ticket items on the horizon. 

The disadvantages of Jira

So, we’ve covered all the benefits of working with Jira in detail. However, no software application is ever perfect. In the name of objectivity, let’s delve into some of Jira’s disadvantages:

  1. Challenging setup

Jira can be quite tricky to set up, especially for first-time users. Multiple options and an endless range of configurations might be a little overwhelming for somebody after project management software that “just works” straight out of the box.

  1. No communication tool

Users can get email notifications while tracking issues or project tasks.  However, there is no way for teammates to quickly and directly send messages to each other via Jira. Other chat software can be added, but this won’t be an ideal solution for anybody searching for a fully-integrated application. 

  1. No cost or risk assessment features

While Jira is ideal for tracking the progress of most projects, it lacks certain capabilities that Digital Project Managers can’t do without. For instance, it offers no features to manage project costs and assess risks. The first of these might easily be a deal-breaker. Project managers always need to keep track of their budget and spend, and will normally want to do so in the software application they use on a daily basis. 

Is Jira a good option for Digital Project Managers?   

Don’t be put off by Jira’s disadvantages – you won’t find a software application without flaws. With subscriptions at a relatively low price point, Jira is still one of the most affordable project management tools in the market. 

It can be used for a range of projects, from product development and marketing, to HR and business operations. If you want a tool for managing software-related projects, this is exactly what Jira was designed for, making it an excellent choice! 

How to develop Digital Project Management skills

If you’re looking to upskill and add in-demand capabilities to your resume, our Digital Project Management: Elevate course will give you immediately applicable skills and your professional development a serious boost.  

This course is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to tap into the latest software (including Jira!) to lead goal-driven teams and deliver high-impact digital projects.

If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor today and take the first steps in your Digital Project Management journey.