How to Use Jira Software: Project Organization Best Practices

Jira Software is a powerful issue and project tracking application that enables organizations to manage their business processes with transparency, accountability, and efficiency. A growing customer company that maintains their internal systems, product web pages, and mobile applications was able to minimize the number of tools they have to use and reduce the complexity of their workflow by using Jira Software.

Jira overview

Jira Software is part of the Jira suite of products that include Jira Service Desk and Jira Core. Jira Software is used by many software development teams, software project teams, and agile teams to plan, track, and release software products. Since it includes Jira Core, it can also be used by many business teams for non-technical projects, workflow approvals, and other task management. It can be hosted on the cloud or on-premise. It integrates with many Atlassian products and third-party products such as Confluence, Bitbucket, Slack, and GitHub.

Jira terminology

In Jira, some terms with specific meanings are commonly used:

  • Issue – a work item that is tracked from the time it was created to the time it is completed. It can represent a product feature in a software, a task as part of a marketing activity, or a document for a QA process. An issue can also be referred to as a ticket, task, or request, depending on the type of work item.
  • Project – a collection of issues that can be configured by the software in various ways. Projects can be further organized and categorized.
  • Workflow – a sequential path or process that an issue takes from creation to completion. A workflow can have different statuses that an issue takes as it goes through the path. The issue transitions from one status to another as it moves, changes, or gets updated. A workflow can be simple or complex, and is determined by the needs of the business and the requirements of the product.
  • Agile – is a work philosophy that emphasizes an iterative approach, customer feedback, and frequent incremental delivery. Jira Software has features specifically designed to support agile.

Best practices for projects

A Jira project is different from a traditional project. It is a collection of issues with their own completion dates, so a Jira project does not necessarily have its own end date. A project can represent an ongoing process like the recruiting activities of an HR team, where each job requisition has its own start and end date. It can also represent the development of periodic software updates for a mobile app, where each update is a temporary task.

When you create a Jira project, it will ask you what type of project your team requires. You can choose from a few project templates like scrum, kanban, bug tracking, IT service desk, and more. Select the right template and click the Create button to create your new project. For every project you create, Jira creates a board for that project to help you see a visual representation of your work.

But before you create a project, it is important to decide how you will organize your projects. When do you know it is time to create a project? The best practice is to organize your projects the way your company runs. If your company regularly releases software, then organize your projects by product release. Under this project, you can have different issues related to the release and versions of your software product.

If your company is organized by teams that get project assignments, then organize your projects by teams. Similarly, a bigger company can organize projects by departments instead of teams. However, if your organization suffers from frequent reorganization, organizing projects by team, department, or other business unit can be a problem. In Jira, merging projects and project settings can cause major headaches.

Jira project examples

Your company builds a mobile application for both iOS and Android platform. Do you create a single mobile app project, or do you create a project for the iOS team and another project for the Android team? The answer: it depends.

  • A single mobile app project – if you have a single team that works on both platforms. Since you will follow a shared roadmap, it makes sense to work on a single project where the team releases parallel versions of the app for the two platforms. This is a more efficient structure, where the goals, milestones, and processes are similar.
  • A separate iOS team and Android team – if you have two separate developer teams, where each team has more flexibility to configure each of their settings and workflow. It is also a better setup if you plan to have different roadmaps of the app for each platform.

Things to remember

The best way to use Jira Software to track your company’s business process is to organize your Jira projects as close as possible to how your business is organized and how it functions, whether by product release, by team, or by business unit. This synchronizes the work patterns of your team with the workflow that you will follow as you track your issues.

For more differentiated or independent work, you might choose to organize within separate Jira projects to better differentiate process, team, or output settings. This may not be obvious at the start, but as the work grows, it will also need its own unique setup and configurations.

Jira also creates a board for every project, but the board can include issues from other projects. This lets you track work across different teams, projects, or boards.

Just as your team iterates on your projects, you can iterate your processes within Jira. Start out by setting up your projects in the most logical way for how your team currently works, and make changes for future projects.

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.

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