Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 2: Create A JIRA Workflow For Your Business

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO JIRA (6)

Previously: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 1: Understand Your Business Workflow

Overview

If your business process is documented, you are ready to convert them into a JIRA process.

 We chose JIRA Cloud because it has great features for agile development teams. The Kanban method provided in JIRA Cloud was our best choice to visualize our tasks and process them. We’ll show you these examples when we set up JIRA.

 

Understand JIRA Workflow Concept

image8

(source: atlassian.com)

 As Atlassian describes: “A JIRA workflow is a set of statuses and transitions that an issue moves through during its lifecycle and typically represents processes within your organization.”


It is the logical process to move your issues to different states so you always know the status of an issue by just looking at the status information. Statuses cannot be vague, so make sure you can clearly describe steps in your business process to be able to create them in JIRA.

Astral Web Master Workflow

As we described in our “Understand your business workflow” article, after spending nearly 3 months to review of how our teams and team members work, we were able to put together a master workflow that is compatible for even our biggest projects.

image7

  1. Backlog: A list for all pre-planning issues (ideas, to-do, etc.)
  2. Selected for Planning: Issues that are ready for planning and need to be assigned
  3. In Planning: Issues that are in planning
  4. In Review: Plans that need approval
  5. Selected for Development: Issues that need to be assigned to development team
  6. Selected for Design: Issues that need to be assigned to design team
  7. PM Review: Issues that need to be checked by PM
  8. Select for QA: Issues that need to be assigned to QA team
  9. Deploy: Issues that need to be deployed (website)
  10. Pending Approval: Issues that have been deployed and need 3rd party approval
  11. Done: Issue has been approved and completed

These are all the checkpoints for project managers to keep our solution quality high, regardless of what kind of task or project we need to complete.

However, this workflow is overkill for simple and general tasks. So, we also made sure transitions are flexible for different teams and project sizes.

Customize workflow for each team

Development, design, and QA team branches off from the master workflow to process issues in their internal teams. Project managers are focused and handing off issues and receiving them for final review, so we omit detailed development, design, and QA tasks.

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For smaller projects and teams, we simplified the master workflow with less steps and completely omit the development process. We kept the handover to the design team process, since many of our projects require design elements. This process is good for our marketing team, corporate strategy team, and other general work.

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However, our sales team use completely different sales and crm system, so we took the general team workflow and added a few more status to customize a new process. We still borrow statuses from the master workflow when we can.

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Prepare for naming transitions

You will need to set up a logical transition between each status. For example, if you are moving an issue status from “In Planning” to “Review”, you can name the transition “Review plan with PM”.

Create multiple workflows using the same status from your master workflow

Here is a preview of the master workflow we will create in JIRA. To create this workflow, we made many new status labels and transition that do not exist in JIRA by default. When we make simpler workflows for teams and smaller projects, we want to make sure we’re using the same label so the data is clean, shareable, and easy to report.

image1

Here’s an example of a general team workflow that simplifies the master workflow by many steps, but still borrow some statuses.

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We need to share statuses, so all similar issues are organized together. For example, we want all issues for any project that needs design work to be shared with the design team. So, all of these issues need to fall under “For Design” status at some point of the workflow.

Understanding these concepts will help you setup JIRA workflows much efficiently.

Next, we’ll show more points to consider for different teams when using JIRA.

Next: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 3: What Are Your Team’s Issue Types? (coming soon)

Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 1: Understand Your Business Workflow

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO JIRA (5)

Previously: What Are Alternatives To Atlassian JIRA?

Overview

Now that you know many project management tool options are available and companies have been successful with using tools like JIRA, you will feel like jumping right in.

But, wait. Don’t sign up for that free trial yet.

Make sure you are able to document your business flow and how your company and teams work internally and externally, because this is exactly what you’ll be doing for the first few weeks or months with your new tools.

If a basic “To-do”, “In progress”, and “Done” is sufficient for you, that’s what you can quickly test during free trial, but there are other tools that is good enough for simple task management.

If your process isn’t ready, then you’ll waste a lot of time and money. A one month free trial will pass so quick.

Join Atlassian’s workshop and seminars, or learn as much as you can from articles like this one.

In this article, we will explain how we analyzed our company’s business and development workflows.

Astral Web is an Agile Development Team

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We love to visualize our tasks and have them ready for our team members to easily capture them and work on them as needed. We want to work fast, even if some requirements of projects are not fully complete. We wanted to be flexible.

Understand the big workflow

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We started with the idea to create a process to seamlessly integrate all team processes together using a master workflow.

First, we reviewed how each of our teams work to confirm our concept.

image1

We knew each team’s processes would be different, but the more we studied, we learned that almost every member had their own process and set of tools. Some differences were obvious, such as using Windows or Mac. But, to learn more, we made a spreadsheet for everyone to list all of their tools. The result was a mix of free, paid, known, and unknown tools that were shared or used individually by personal preference.

Next, we looked at how projects were born and how tasks were passed on from team to team.

Because we are experienced, the overall flow did not feel bad, but there were enough issues that could cause major problems in the future. How we communicated through email and apps, the amount of information we shared, and the tools we used varied. Not everything is bad.

But, at this point, we realized making a master workflow was not so simple.

We had to refine our individual and team processes to create new connections that would become part of a master workflow.

Standardize tools and processes

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We went deeper into our team processes to standardize some basics on how our teams should work. We spent 3 months to discuss with development, design, quality assurance, project managers, marketing, and sales to clarify goals and understand how we can improve and simplify workflows.

We looked at some of our biggest projects and to breakdown our work into steps (for each team) and understand how they could connect from team to team.

Understand what type of projects you have

Process is heavily based on the type of projects you have. So, it is important to understand what type of projects you work on. In our case, we have large scale e-commerce web development, marketing websites, and other creative projects.

What is the scope of each project

It’s not easy to know what we will do in the future, so we looked at our past projects to understand the general scope of work for each type of project. We also considered the scope of general tasks, so smaller work can also be quickly processed.

We made a list of project types, their variance in scope, and a list of tasks to complete them. The made sure our JIRA steps are able handle everything on the list.

What teams are involved in each type of project

Not all teams are involved in every project or a phase of the project, so we clarified who are required for each type of project.

By clarifying, we were able to minimize some processes. For example, pre-planning phases are not necessary for development teams. Detailed development and design stages, are not always necessary for project managers, so we can simplify how they can be shown to managers.

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Who can access these projects?

We also considered the confidentiality of some of our projects. We wanted to make sure our tool can control who can access what. JIRA is able to do this as long as you have a good policy and set up the permission settings.

Understand Your Non-development Teams

JIRA is great for software development, but can it be great for other teams, too?

We believe this can be true, so we also considered processes for our non-development teams such as sales, marketing, and smaller projects.

Document your processes

To recreate your process in JIRA, you will need to translate your business flow into a more programmable logic flow with status and status transition labels. Create a good documentation to track and confirm all your requirements that you need in JIRA.

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We’ll show you how to set up everything in our upcoming articles.

Next: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 2: Create A JIRA Workflow For Your Business

What Are Alternatives To JIRA?

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO JIRA (4)

Previously: Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 2

Overview

Previously, we introduced the basics of JIRA and described how Astral Web chose JIRA Cloud for its ease of use and advanced features for software development teams.

If you’re not a team of engineers or just need a tool to improve general task management, you may like some of the tools we introduce in this article. We only introduce web-based tools so  you can easily start testing without having to invest in self-hosting or learn how to set up from scratch. If you are good at setting things up yourself and are able to self house, open source and local software are other great options that you can search for.

We also group the tools into two categories:

  • General Task Management
  • Project Management

We hope this list will help you make the best decision on what planning and management tools to use.

At Astral Web, we haven’t test all paid features, however some such as Asana, Todoist, and some open source tools, we still use them for some of our sub-teams and projects. If you can work small, you’ll see that most of the tools we share are free as long as you’re are under the user quota.

General Task Management Web Tools

Asana

Website: https://asana.com/

Asana is a general project management tool to organize projects with multiple members so you can quickly and easily share tasks to reach goals. Used by companies such as Deloitte, NASA, New York Times, and more.

asana

(Source: asana.com)

Pricing

Free for Starters

  • Unlimited tasks, projects, and conversations
  • Up to 15 team members
  • Basic dashboards
  • Basic search

Premium: $9.99 USD Per User/Month

  • Timeline – New!
  • No team member limit
  • Unlimited dashboards
  • Advanced search & reporting
  • Custom fields
  • Task dependencies
  • Comment-only projects
  • Private teams and projects
  • Start dates
  • Admin controls
  • Customer success webinars
  • Priority support
  • Google SSO

Todoist

Website: https://todoist.com

Todoist is a general task management tool with great mobile app support.

todoist

(Source: todoist.com)

Pricing

Free for up to 5 users per project

  • Access on 10+ platforms
  • Recurring due dates
  • SSL secured connection
  • Sub-tasks & sub-projects
  • Task priorities (4 levels)

Premium: $3 USD Per User/Month or $29 USD Per User/Year

  • Automatic Reminders
  • Custom Templates
  • Cloud Data Backup
  • Custom Labels
  • Task Views
  • Custom Themes
  • Review Completed Tasks
  • Account Activity Overview
  • Visualized Weekly and Monthly Reports

Microsoft To-Do

Website: https://todo.microsoft.com/

To-Do is made by the creators of Wunderlist after acquired by Microsoft and is part of the Office 365 family.

todo

(Source: todo.microsoft.com)

Pricing

Free if you have a Microsoft Office 365 Account


Wunderlist

Website: https://www.wunderlist.com

General task list with great focus on mobile apps to get things done. Acquired by Microsoft in 2016.

wunderlist

(Source: wunderlist.com)

Pricing

Free with great features but may be discontinued and be replaced by To-Do, which will have direct integration with Office 365.


Project Management Web Tools

Blossom

Website: https://www.blossom.co

Blossom is a project manage tool focused on employees that work from different cities and time zones. Used by companies such as Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and more.

blossom

(Source: blossom.co)

Pricing

Starters up to 5 Users: $22 USD/Month (cheaper if billed annually)

  • Unlimited Products
  • Unlimited File Uploads

Premium: Packages start from $70 USD/Month

  • Up to 15 Users

Crocagile

Website: https://www.crocagile.com

Crocagile is a tool for agile teams with various customization options.

crocogile

(Source: crocagile.com)

Pricing

Small Teams up to 5 users: $2.50 USD Per User/Month

  • Custom Workflows
  • Kanban Boards
  • Story Boards
  • Custom Fields
  • File Sharing
  • Personal Dashboard
  • Files & Docs
  • Wallposts & Chat
  • Reports

Premium: Packages start from $3.50 USD Per User/Month

  • Up to 15 users
  • 10.0 GB Storage
  • Unlimited workspaces
  • And more with better packages


 

Mingle

Website: https://www.thoughtworks.com/mingle/

Mingle is a program management tool for teams with workflows and content building. Used by companies such as Cisco, Siemens, Hertz, and more.

mingle

(Source: thoughtworks.com/mingle)

Pricing

Free for starters up to 5 users

  • Planning Templates
  • Workflows
  • Chats
  • GitHub Integration
  • Single Sign on

Premium: $35 USD Per User/Month (first 5 free)

  • Program Management
  • Backlog
  • Smart Alerts
  • Portfolio Management
  • Dependencies

Pivotal Tracker

Website: https://www.pivotaltracker.com

Pivotal Tracker is a project management tool focused on story based task creations. Used by companies such as BBC, Groupon, IGN, and more.

pivotaltracker

(Source: pivotaltracker.com)

Pricing

Free for up to 3 Users

  • 3 collaborators
  • 2GB storage
  • 2 projects

Premium: Packages start from $12.50 USD Per User/Month (when paid annually)

  • 5 collaborators
  • 5 private projects
  • 5GB storage

Smartsheet

Website: https://www.smartsheet.com

Smartsheet is a tool to plan, track, automate, and report your projects with collaboration features. Used by companies such as Netflix, Hilton Hotels, HP, and more.

smartsheet

(Source: smartsheet.com)

Pricing

Individual: $14 USD Per User/Month

  • Up to 10 Users
  • Reports View/Edit Only
  • Dashboards View Only

Business: $25 USD Per User/Month

  • Up to 100 Users
  • Unlimited Reports
  • Automated Actions
  • Activity Logs
  • Single Sign on
  • Custom Color and Logos

 

 


 

Targetprocess

Website: https://www.targetprocess.com

Targetpractice is a visual project planning tool with support for Kanban, Scrum, and SAFe methods. Used by companies such as Infineon, Vaio, Vodafone, and more.

targetprocess

(Source: targetprocess.com)

Pricing

Free for basic teams

  • 1000 entities
  • Basic support
  • Hosted in the cloud

Premium: Packages start from $20 USD Per User/Month

  • Unlimited entities
  • Standard support
  • Hosted in the cloud
  • Single sign-on

Teamwork.com

Website: http://teamwork.com

Project planning and management tool that is produced in parallel with their customer support and chat tools. Similar to the scope of JIRA and its other tools. Used by companies such as Paypal, Disney, Forbes, and more.

teamwork

 

(Source: teamwork.com)

Pricing

Free for starters

  • 100MB file space
  • Up to 5 users
  • 2 active projects
  • Limited task boards
  • Basic project management
  • Subtasks
  • Color themes

Premium: Packages start from $9 USD Per User/Month (Annual billing is 20% more cheaper)

  • 100GB file space
  • Up to 50 users
  • 5 User Minimum
  • 300 projects
  • Task boards
  • Instant file editing
  • Webhooks
  • Google Drive, Box.com, OneDrive Personal & Dropbox integrations

Trello

Website: https://trello.com/

Trello is a collaboration tool developed by Atlassian that has boards, lists, and cards to organize and prioritize projects. Used by companies such as Redhat, Fender, Adobe, Google, and more.

trello

(Source: trello.com)

Pricing

Free for basic service

  • Unlimited boards, lists, cards, members, checklists, and attachments.
  • Attach files up to 10MB

Premium: Packages start from $9.99 USD Per User/Month

  • Unlimited Power-Ups
  • User Access
  • Restricted Memberships
  • Customize board designs
  • Priority email support
  • And more for better packages

Workzone

Website: https://www.workzone.com

Workzone is a project management tool and service focused on supporting their customers to improve project management. Used by companies such as Sephora, Verizon, Well Fargos, DKNY, and more.

workzone

(Source: workzone.com)

Pricing

Pricing is by request and categories by Team, Professional, and Enterprise.


Wrike

Website: https://www.wrike.com/

Wrike is a project planning and collaboration tool made for various types of teams. Used by companies such as Airbnb, Verizon, SurveyMonkey, and more.

wrike

(Source: wrike.com)

Pricing

Free for up to 5 users

  • Simple shared task lists

Premium: Packages start from $9.80 USD Per User/Month

  • Task & Subtask Management
  • Gantt Chart
  • Advanced Integrations (MS Project, Excel, RSS)
  • Shareable dashboards
  • Unlimited collaborators
  • From 5 GB of storage space
  • From 15 GB of video uploads per month
  • More features in better packages

Up Next: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 1: Understand Your Business Workflow

Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 2

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO JIRA (3)

Previously: Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 1

In Part 1 we introduced the basics of JIRA, but now we want to understand why JIRA is so popular.

Why is JIRA Popular?

image1

(source: www.atlassian.com)

So, we have heard about JIRA before and how it is gaining popularity, so we studied demos to see if it is good for our company, too. Similar development companies like us have shared their success cases proving that JIRA works.

As of 2017, Atlassian claims JIRA is being used by more than 75,000 customers of all sizes around the world. But, why?

More about Atlassian customers and their success stories:
https://www.atlassian.com/customers

Atlassian Develops Great Features

image4

(source: www.atlassian.com)

As we listed in Part 1, Atlassian has the experience of developing various project management tools. And with thousands of customers, they constantly get feedback to continue improving.

We believe JIRA is no exception and is continuously growing to have many great features, which help us decide over other options.

  • Manage project tasks: This of course is the first requirement for a management tool. JIRA excels at allowing us to visually track issues using various methods and provide advanced options to customize how issues are processed.
  • Tracking bugs: Bug tracking comes by default in JIRA Software. This is helpful if you do not want to customize issue types yourself.
  • Customer support: If you add JIRA Service Desk, it is similar to other tools like Zendesk, which lets you track support tickets similar to JIRA Issues.

Their expertise of development and quality are definitely reasons for their great reputation.

Atlassian Marketplace Has Hundreds of Plugins And Extensions

Because of JIRA’s popularity, there are hundreds plugins and integrations that have been developed by 3rd parties, just for JIRA. We will introduce a few that we use later on, but some of these tools greatly enhance JIRA or how you process issues alongside JIRA.

However, some issues we have are:

  • If you use JIRA Cloud, plugins and extensions tend to charge you by total number of users on your JIRA account.
  • Quality of the plugins are sometimes not great and is difficult to choose between several similar options.
  • Some plugins are not available for JIRA Cloud (and vice versa).

See everything at the Atlassian Marketplace:

https://marketplace.atlassian.com

Combined with the relatively low cost to get started and features offered, we were able to quickly study and decide if JIRA Software is good for our company.

So far, JIRA has helped streamline all of our internal work and improved how we communicate project status with our clients.

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Next: What Are Alternatives To Atlassian JIRA?

Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 1

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO JIRA (2)

Previously: Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to Atlassian JIRA

Looking for a tool to help manage your project and tasks? We have been experimenting with various tools, and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, since 2017, Astral Web has focused on using JIRA by Atlassian, which is a great tool for software development teams to work fast and accurately to deliver our great products to our clients.

In this part 1 article, we will go over the basic information about JIRA.

  1. What is JIRA?
  2. What are Basic JIRA Concepts?
  3. How much does JIRA cost?
  4. What’s the difference between JIRA Cloud and Server?
  5. Atlassian Product Ecosystem

What is JIRA?

image4

 

(source: www.atlassian.com)

JIRA is a project management tool developed by Atlassian that has bug tracking, issue tracking, and project management functions. However, there are two different types of JIRA: JIRA Core and JIRA Software. Our articles discuss JIRA Software (previously known as JIRA Agile), which has stronger features for agile development processes, such as working from backlogs and processing issues using a Kanban method.

JIRA Core is focused on organizing tasks for teams, which should is more useful for businesses.

Both have many default functions that make it easy to launch new projects and advanced customization to tailor the whole platform to work how you want it to work.

Our recommendation is JIRA Software, if you are a development company that uses agile methods such as Kanban or Scrum boards.

More about the features of JIRA Software:
https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/features

More about the features of JIRA Core:
https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/core

What are Basic JIRA Concepts?

image6

(source: www.atlassian.com)

Projects

A project in JIRA is a group of issues. You can organize your issues depending on your project needs. Astral Web organizes projects into live software development, sales team, marketing team, and more to optimize all aspects of our work within the company.

Issues

An issue in JIRA is what represents your issue to track, such as bugs, task, or requests. You can add and customize issues according to how your project team works.

Workflows

A workflow in JIRA is the status and transitions that define how your issues process within your project. You can customize workflows for each type of issue to optimize how they transition from status to status. Each status and transition can have their own backend actions for further customization.

How much does JIRA cost?

image2

 

 

(source: www.atlassian.com)

You have two options on how to use JIRA.

IRA Server lets you self host, which requires a single payment depending on how many users you plan to add. As of June 2018, 10 users license is only $10 USD, and can go up to $33,000 for 10,000 users.

JIRA Cloud requires a monthly fee. It’s $10 USD a month for up to 10 users and jumps to $77 USD from 11 users. The more users you have, the less cost per person, potentially down to $1.52 USD per person (with 2000 users). It’s even cheaper if you pay annually.

Latest pricing information:

https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/pricing

What’s the difference between JIRA Cloud and Server?

JIRA Cloud has its benefit to be hosted by Atlassian servers, because they claim 99.9% uptime with 24/7 customer support, and are very secure. Also, plugins and applications are easy to install and remove.

JIRA Server has more administrative functions, which are limited out Cloud. For example, on server you can host on custom domains, more users, or import and export your own data.

Astral Web uses JIRA Cloud, which is hosted on Atlassian’s servers. We love to work on cloud and fits our office working style. It’s also helps us to worry less about maintaining our own servers.

More details on restricted features: https://confluence.atlassian.com/cloud/restricted-functions-in-atlassian-cloud-apps-744721664.html

Atlassian Product Ecosystem

image3

Atlassian also produces other tools that deeply integrate with JIRA.

  • JIRA Service Desk can be useful for a customer support style platform.
  • Confluence can be useful for document collaboration right inside JIRA.
  • Stride, Trello, and Hipchat can be useful for communication and more task management.
  • Bitbucket can be helpful to manage your Git repositories.
  • And more…

Each tool seem pretty good for standalone use. We are currently studying both Atlassian and other 3rd party tools to see if they are beneficial to add onto our workflows. Since our core workflow is on JIRA, our priority is to be able to integrate new processes seamlessly.

Full list of Atlassian Products:
https://www.atlassian.com/software

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Next: Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 2