JIRA by Atlassian has become the standard for project management software among Agile teams in recent years. But, as with all tools, there are little quirks here and there that most of us have learned to live with or easily work around. We’ve always thought it would be nice to be able to patch these little holes and smooth out the entire experience.
Here are the top five challenges Agile pros experience working in JIRA, and then a special announcement at the end!
For any large-scale Agile operation, being able to visualize and manage cross-team dependencies is absolutely vital. However, even with all teams working in JIRA, dependencies are not automatically tracked and noted in the base software.
Engineers and developers have come up with some ingenious workarounds to get the job done. For instance, back in 2013, the Twitter TPM team blogged about their in-house workaround that involved custom fields, plugins, and a nifty little script to manage dependencies for their developers.
But, that’s a significant amount of extra work and it leaves room for human error.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if someone could come up with a reliable plugin that could make visualizing and managing dependencies in JIRA seamless and simple?
Release Planning with Multiple Projects
Another difficult issue for larger organizations who are working on multiple concurrent projects at a time is the fact that JIRA is set up out of the box to plan out sprints featuring the stories and features from one project only.
So, sprint planning is beautifully simple – if you’re handling one product at a time.
But the reality of working in a busy development team is that any given sprint may include features from many different products that are all at various stages of development, and need to be tracked separately in order to allow for proper velocity tracking and continual planning over the course of multiple sprints.
Over time, teams have come up with very smart ways to work around this issue. One particularly impressive example was highlighted at the 2012 Atlassian Summit where Ian Wells from GPS developer, Telogis Inc., described a series of Python scripts they injected into JIRA to essentially reprogram how it viewed “products” and “projects” to conform to how Allure defined those terms. The result was a functioning JIRA client that could handle release planning with multiple projects.
Imagine if this could be done simply and intuitively without a ton of backend coding being required.
In 2014, Atlassian released JIRA Portfolio, which was a huge leap forward in scaling Agile using the tried and true JIRA framework.
Although the Portfolio system allows for the creation of epics and the subsequent monitoring and reporting necessary to handle the input of multiple teams working on multiple projects, a disconnect still remains when looking at the overarching business strategy and delivery needs that must inform the epics.
Mapping Work Over a Timeline
Atlassian has a fantastic timeline planning tool as part of their Confluence product, but it doesn’t exist at all inside JIRA.
Of course, having a readily available visual timeline right in JIRA would make things a lot easier for developers and owners alike, since no one would need to ask or answer the age old question, “what do we do next?”
Switching between JIRA and Confluence isn’t all that difficult, but it is an extra step, requires extra training, and generally slows things down more than necessary. And besides, JIRA is where the team spends its time and tracks its work.
Versions Spanning Multiple Projects
Versions in JIRA are kept vague intentionally because Atlassian knows everyone works differently and they wanted to keep the software flexible enough to allow for those differences in workflow.
However, one area in which JIRA Versions is not flexible is the fact that a version can only be associated with one project, no matter how you label it or how you configure custom fields. For most teams, this probably isn’t a big problem. But, in some cases, the team’s workflow is such that if the JIRA Versions fields could be mapped to different projects simultaneously, it would make their lives a lot easier.
If only someone could devise a plugin to handle that…
SURPRISE! The Program boards for JIRA Plugin is Here!
As you may have guessed from a few shameless hints along the way, cPrime is proud and excited to announce the release of a custom plugin for JIRA called Program Boards for JIRA.
This plugin addresses many of the biggest challenges developers have faced in working with JIRA, including those noted above. We think JIRA is a fantastic tool on its own. But now, with Visualizer installed, we think it’s about the best option you can use to manage all your Agile projects effectively.