10 Getting Started with JIRA: User Interface

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

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO JIRA 10

Previously: 09 Getting Started with JIRA: User Roles & Permissions

By now you may have gotten used to how JIRA Clouds looks and navigates, but here are some additional details about the interface that you may or may not already know.

Dashboards

Dashboards are the first page your users will land when they log into JIRA. The space is useful for filtering and sharing JIRA information, which is achieved by adding different types of gadgets such as search filters, pie charts, and other data collection formats.

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System Dashboard

The default dashboard you will get when you start JIRA is the System Dashboard. This default dashboard includes the “Introduction”, “Assigned to Me”, and “Activity Stream” gadgets. These are basic and fairly useful, but there are much more gadgets that JIRA provides for you to make user of. To do this, you will need to create new custom dashboards.

Custom Dashboards

To add modify or more gadgets, you will need to create a new dashboard since you cannot make changes to the default dashboard. Select the top right “…” icon and select “Create Dashboard”. You must be an admin or user with permission to create new boards, and usually only the creator or user with higher permissions will be able to make changes.

Add a name (e.g. “Project Team ABC Dashboard” or “Design Team Dashboard”) that will be relevant to the users who will be using this dashboard.

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We have created 3 basic levels of dashboards for our teams. Our highest level is a “Company Dashboard” that displays top level overall project information so we can quickly view the status of multiple projects at once. Only administrators can access this dashboard. We also have dashboards for each team by function such as “Design Team”, “Development Team”, and “Sales Team”. These filter projects and issues so they are most useful for each team and their members. We also have “Project Dashboards” for larger projects, so the project managers can get an overview of their entire project on the dashboard.

We use different dashboard gadgets to share information. For example, our Project Dashboard shows a calendar with hot issues, a line chart to show how many tickets have been created, and a pie chart to show the status of all of the tickets. This helps us understand the overall situation of one project.

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Dashboard Gadgets

JIRA offers a few dozen dashboard gadgets to use. There are some 3rd party gadgets that can be purchased, but we have never tried any. Not many of the gadgets are amazing, but they do basic data collection and show different charts. The Calendar gadget and Pie Chart are some of the most useful ones. We recommend you to try all of them to see and feel if they are useful for you.

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The most important factor is the data you are feeding to the gadget, which is all controlled by another feature called “Filters”. We will discuss how to use Filters in another article, but note that adding a gadget will not have enough power to filter fine details.

One type of gadget that is missing and we would love to have (which apparently used to be available in a much older version) is one that can add plain text or code. JIRA decided to remove these features. But, we do describe in our previous article that the “Introduction” section under your JIRA General System Settings is the only and best way to share custom text and basic code. Otherwise a 3rd party gadget may fulfill your needs.

More Dashboard Space

Select the “Edit layout” button to change the dashboard layout. You will be able to select between basic 1-3 columns. We use the default 2-column layout since it’s a good balance. The 3-column layout gets too small to show detailed information. You can try switching between them to see which works best for you. Just be careful that your gadgets may jump around when you make changes.

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You can also improve your viewing space by making the side menu smaller. Click the divider between the left menu and right side content to make the menu bar smaller. It isn’t much, but it does help to show more content on the right side if you have a small monitor. Otherwise you can zoom out on your browser (e.g. “ctrl” + ”-”) to see more.

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Look and Feel

The overall usability of JIRA Cloud cannot be changed so much, but you can change the logo and colors of your interface. Go to the section under “JIRA Settings” > “System” > “Look and feel”.

We added a nice company logo (and JIRA since we had some extra space), which needs to be around 368px by 64px. There are also options to show Titles on browsers tabs, Colors, and Time Display.

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You can only choose two colors for interface. The background color of your sidebar, and the Text and Icon colors. It would be nice to have more control, but you can at least unify colors for easy reading or differentiate between multiple Atlassian web-apps, or just having the right color for your company.

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JIRA Cloud, as most web-apps, is limited to modifying the interface, but we hope these tips help you improve usability for your team members.

09 Getting Started with JIRA: User Roles & Permissions

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

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO JIRA 9

Previously: 08 Getting Started with JIRA: Manage Your User Profile

General Configuration

After we have added some users that can help configure and check our changes, we can now complete our general configurations that apply to your entire JIRA system.

The “Title” of your JIRA should be related to the overall system. We just simply named ours “Astral Web’s JIRA”. The naming isn’t too important, since the most prominent place you ever see it is in the tab title area.

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A very useful setting is the “Introduction” section. This section allows for some basic JIRA markup code that lets you add links, styling, and images.

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Go ahead and select “Edit Settings” to make changes.

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JIRA dashboards don’t allow any html code (unless you buy a 3rd party plugin), but you are able to add the “Introduction” block, so it may become useful for sharing important notes with all of your users.

Here is an example of how our Introduction block looks like on our main dashboard.

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Use the “Internationalization” settings to configure default language settings for all of your users. We use JIRA in both English and Chinese with English being our primary language, so we have “Other” for Indexing and “English” as our default system language. Language display settings can be changed per user as described in our previous User Profile article.

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Options are useful if you want to customize even further. We used the default setting as-is, but you can optimize what users see and access by turning on or off all the features you actually need to use. For example, Voting is a great feature for prioritizing issues, but we don’t use it in any of our teams. So, we could turn it off and keep it hidden from all of the interfaces. For now, our teams just ignore these options if we don’t need them.

Security

Security options are going to be important if you have different types of internal or external users on your project teams. You don’t want all of your users of to have admin powers that allows them to accidentally add or remove important users, features, or billing options. Define which users are admins early on, so only specific users have access to these high-level options as describe in our previous articles.

Project Roles

Project Roles are what you want to change for all the types of users you want to define and configure permissions for.

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In addition to the system Administrators roles, we have added “PM (Project Manager)”, general “Team Member”, and “Guest Reporter” roles.

Project Manager Roles

PMs will have full access to their own projects allowing them to add/remove users and configure their projects as they please. The highest-level option they have is to delete their project. They cannot change global settings such as system settings, workflow schemes, etc.

General Team Member Roles

Team Members can only be invited to a project by a PM, and can only create, edit, and delete issues within the project. They can see other users’ issues and support editing them, but they will not be able to change any project settings.

Guest Reporter

Guest Reporters are roles reserved for our external stakeholders who need access to our project tickets. They can never see other projects, nor can they view issues they are not related to. So a PM must assign or add a Guest Reporter as a watcher to tickets they need access. Otherwise, the Guest Reporter can create and modify their own issue within the project.

Add Your Custom Roles

Above are examples that we use, but you should add your own custom roles as necessary. Go to the bottom of the list to “Add Project Role” to add your own.

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The new role will be added to the list. You will be able to add this role to different “Permission Schemes”. We will explain after our next step to set up “Global Permissions”.

Global Permissions

Global Permissions are configurations for top level users. If you have multiple Atlassian tools, you will be able to configure how different admins can access the different tools. Global Permissions apply to all projects, so you will most likely only add admin groups or users in this area.

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To add your new Project Roles to different permissions schemes, select the “Permission Schemes” in the description or click the “Permission Schemes” on the left menu panel.

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We created a new permission scheme that we apply to all of our projects that we create called “AW Project Planning”. You can do this by selecting the “Add permission scheme” button on the top right.

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After you create a new scheme, it will be listed on the permissions schemes list page. Select “Permissions” under the actions column to change configurations.

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Inside the scheme, you will see a list of actions and options for Projects, Issues, Comments, and more. You can assign different roles to each of these actions. Once a role has been assigned to an action, then the user within that role for each project will be able to access the feature. For example, we add PMs to the “Administer Projects” permission so they can make high-level changes to projects. We do not add other roles. Other general roles are added to the “Browse Project” permission.

In this way, we continue to add our roles to permissions so we can balance security, efficiency, and necessity for all of our teams and projects.

Next we’ll show you how to change your JIRA interface appearances.

Next: 10 Getting Started with JIRA: User Interface

08 Getting Started with JIRA: Manage Your User Profile

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

image6

Previously: 07 Getting Started with JIRA: Start From Your Free Trial

Manage Users

The first thing you should set up are the users, starting with yourself, that will be accessing your JIRA Cloud. As a JIRA administrator, you will be able to add, remove, and edit any user. For each user, you will be able to assign different groups, project roles, and applications. Your Atlassian site uses single sign on for all your applications so your members don’t have to different accounts if you have multiple applications such as Confluence.

Add Admins

Add your administrators (or just yourself for now is ok) so we can work on JIRA setup together. Go to “JIRA Settings” from the dashboard and select “Users”  under User Management. Type in your administrator emails and select “Jira Software” so they have access to JIRA when they finish registration. Your other applications will show here, so you can select them as necessary if you would like.

image5

Organize Groups

If you’re a small team, you may be okay with less organization, but setting customized permissions for different types of member is good for management and security. There are several default system administration groups. You should be in the highest “site-admins” and “administrators” to have access to these backend setting options. Don’t change access details of these groups since you may lose access to key features. If you need custom access, start adding new groups and add new users to the custom groups.

image7

We customize our users into groups that relate to our internal departments. Project Managers have access to most projects and permission to modify project contents so they have their own group. Designers have access to the design team board and general access to most projects. Engineers are assigned to their responsible projects by project managers. By hiding options that are not relevant to each user, security improves and helps each member focus on what they need to do most. You do not need to create a group for each project, since each project will have user settings that is much quicker to manage. You will be able to add whole groups and adjust permissions per group or individual for each project.

Customize Roles

To customize the access permissions by role, go to “Project Roles” under “JIRA Settings” > “Security”. The highest role a user could be assigned is an “administrator” that grants  permission to edit and delete a project. Lowest is “View only”, which only allows a user to see issues related to them and cannot modify those issues. We added a few extra roles that are easy to change by project managers. Most are for internal members, but we also have external guest roles prevents external users from accessing too much options or information of our projects.

image8

Update Individual Profiles

Each user can update their user profile under “Your profile” menu from the bottom left of the JIRA dashboard screen. Adding a profile image is highly recommended when you have a large team so it is easier to identify each other on thumbnails and name searching.

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You can also change settings of JIRA per person under “Personal settings”. We have English and Chinese speakers, so here they can individually set their preferred language setting when they use JIRA. You can also translate workflows and statuses in the backend so all of your documentations are optimized for different languages. Each user can also have their own time zone, if they work remotely or in a different area from your main team.

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Maintain Users

We review our member list each month to make sure only active users are registered. We have many projects and guests accounts, so we are careful to communicate with each project manager to understand who needs access. We try to stay in our 50 user subscription limit to control our budget for JIRA.

If a user needs your help or you need to see how a dashboard looks like on a different user’s account you can login as another user under the User Management section. A “Log in as user” option is available under each user. However, you will not be able to log in as another admin. This is one reason you should not add all your members as an admin, since there will be situations you need to help administrate other users.

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Next, we will help you go through some general settings of JIRA Cloud so your users can add and manage new projects.

Next: 09 Getting Started with JIRA: User Roles & Permissions

Structured Data JSON/LD for “Parent – Child” Locations

Parent Child Local Business Heirarchy JSON Structured Data

With Google and others increasingly serving information in new formats on both mobile and desktop search engines (e.g. product, service or company “cards”), maintaining accurate and up-to-date structured data is a must as an SEO best practice.

Many businesses fit neatly into one of the organization types provided by Schema.org, but we encountered a case of a business that’s dependent on both local and national SEO results (but not large enough to completely separate corporate and retail). For this reason, we wanted to maintain a parent Organization for organic searches while still marking up individual locations data to improve their local SEO. It was important to us to maintain an explicit relationship between locations and the company as a larger entity.

We settled on creating a parentOrganization > LocalBusiness hierarchy, allowing us to define information for the larger organization & homepage while optimizing location pages. Below is an example of the JSON-LD script that we used for both the parent organization and the local listings.

Other situations where this could be useful include:

  • Defining Headquarters / Corporate Offices and service locations
  • Websites that do business both online and in brick and mortar locations

Homepage:

The script below is pared down to basic information and defines the umbrella business information:

<script type="application/ld+json">{
    "@context": "http://schema.org",
    "@type": "Organization",
    "name": "Your Parent Company Name",
    "logo": "https://yourParentCompany.com/LOGO.png",
    "url": "https://yourParentCompany.com",
    "sameAs": [
        "https://www.facebook.com/yourParentCompany/",      “https://www.twitter.com/yourParentCompany/”
    ],
    "contactPoint": {
        "@type": "ContactPoint",
        "telephone": "+1-800-111-1111",
        "contactType": "Sales",
        "email": "info@yourParentCompany.com",
        "contactOption": "TollFree",
        "areaServed": "United States",
        "availableLanguage": "English"
    },
    "address": {
        "@type": "PostalAddress",
        "addressCountry": "United States",
        "addressLocality": "Los Angeles",
        "addressRegion": "CA",
        "postalCode": "90230",
        "streetAddress": "1025 mainOffice Street"
    }
}</script>

 
Location Pages:

The goal here is to markup location data, without abandoning the “parent” organization, done so by creating each location as a LocalBusiness subtype of the parentOrgnanization.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org",
  "@type": "LocalBusiness",
  "@id": "https://yourParentCompany.com/location-1/",
  "name": "Your Company Name - Location Number 1",
  "description": "Your Company Location Number 1, Providing the best goods and or services to the area since mid-March of 1699 BC.",
  "image": [
 "https://yourParentCompany.com/LOGO.png"
  ],
  "areaServed": "serviceArea",
  "url": "https://yourParentCompany.com",
  "telephone": "+1-650-801-3333",
  "address": {
    "@type": "PostalAddress",
    "streetAddress": "123 localBusiness Street",
    "addressLocality": "San Francisco",
    "addressRegion": "CA",
    "postalCode": "94117",
    "addressCountry": "US"
  },
    "parentOrganization": {
    "@type": "Organization",
    "@id": "https://yourParentCompany.com",
    "name": "Your Parent Company Name",
    "description": "Your Parent Company Name: Providing local and international services since Mid January of 1699 BC.",
    "image": [
      "https://yourParentCompany.com/LOGO.png"
    ],
    "url": "https://yourParentCompany.com/",
    "telephone": "+1-800-111-1111"
  }
}
</script>

Needless to say, the above code is just a starting point for creating JSON-LD markup for businesses with similar needs. For example, one of our key goals was to display each locations’ reviews on SERPs, and if you’re adding or updating your structured data this is a great time to add any such data to the localbusiness JSON.

Once you’ve added the data, make sure to confirm that Google’s seeing the right values with their testing tool.

Have other ideas, improvements, questions? Let us know!


07 Getting Started with JIRA: Start From Your Free Trial

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

8

Previously: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 3: Create A JIRA Workflow For Your Business

Overview

Jira Cloud trial is free for only 7 days. Make sure you understand enough of your business and work process foundation before you get started, because 7 days is a short time to test and confirm features.


image3

Select the Jira Software “Try it free” button to get started. The other two choices, which we don’t need now, are the combination of Jira Software and Confluence (Wiki style document management) or Jira Service Desk (Atlassian’s customer service platform). You can try these other services another time on a different trial session.

Complete the required information to get started.

Login to Jira Cloud

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Once you’re set up, you’ll have access to all Jira features for a week.

To learn more about the basics features of Jira Software at the official website:
https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira

If you haven’t, log into your Jira Cloud at your unique Jira website. Otherwise, you will see a default menu with no accessible content. You can login from the bottom left icon.

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Exploring the Jira Workspace

You will be able to access your Jira Cloud account from any internet browser, as well as the Jira Mobile App that is available for iOS and Android. Mobiles apps will not have a full workspace, but will give you access to all of your projects and issues.

image1

First landing page is the Dashboard tab.

Astral Web’s example login dashboard has continued to evolve, but currently has enough widgets to get our team members informed about the latest information and groups issues so they are easy to access. Some useful filters we have put together are “Things I need to do by Due Date”, “Bugs & QA Issues assigned to me”, and “Recently assigned to me”.

Jira Cloud Dashboards are limited to the widgets available, but we were able to experiment and set up to get these results.

  • The Projects tab takes you to a section that lists all of your projects. We use projects to organize issues by type of project and by teams. We use teams to collect multiple projects and display issues efficiently for each team.
  • Issues and Filters tab are all the filters created within your Jira Cloud. These are some that we used on the dashboard as well as some being unique to each project. We’ll discuss more about filters in the future.
  • Jira Settings are where you will be setting up projects, users, custom workflows, and all other admin features.

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  • The top left icon, also shown on the Jira Settings section, will take you back to your main dashboard.
  • The Star icon will pull up all issues, projects, and pages that you have favorited or recently accessed.
  • The Search icon will let you search for anything in your Jira Cloud. Typically used to quickly search for a project or an issue by name.
  • The Plus icon will let you create a new issue from anywhere.

Jira Software Keyboard Shortcuts

Useful to learn early on are Jira Software keyboard shortcuts. This will let you operate your workspace faster without scrolling and searching.

Some examples are when navigating issues:

  • “o” to open the selected issue
  • “a” to assign the issue to someone
  • “i” to assign an issue to yourself
  • “m” to add a comment

Full details on the Atlassian’s Support Confluence:

https://confluence.atlassian.com/jirasoftwarecloud/using-keyboard-shortcuts-764478271.html

Atlassian Marketplace

7 days may be too short to play around with 3rd party plugins, but if you get stuck because of a lack of Jira Cloud features, the marketplace may be a good place to see if there are solutions.

Atlassian Marketplace

https://marketplace.atlassian.com/

Astral Web uses plugins such as Issue Checklist to make our issue processing even more efficient.

Issue Checklist Plugin

https://marketplace.atlassian.com/apps/1213231/issue-checklist?hosting=cloud&tab=overview

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We hope this gets you started on the right foot to understand Jira Cloud’s possibilities within the short trial period. If you are a small team under 10 people, then it is more than worth it to invest in the monthly $10 usd plan to test further.

Astral Web spent at least 3 months to fully configure workflows before we had all of our 30+ members go on board.

We will discuss more about our Jira Cloud setup decisions in our future articles.

Next: Getting Started with JIRA: Manager Your User Profile

Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 3: Create A JIRA Workflow For Your Business

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

7

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

Overview

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

image12

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

image3

(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.

image8

  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.

image4

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.

image7

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.

image2

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 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.

image9
Here’s an example of a general team workflow that simplifies the master workflow by many steps, but still borrow some statuses.

image6

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.

Project focused vs multi-project teams

Another point to consider, is how teams view projects. Are engineers focused on single projects and designers working on multiple projects at once? You will have control over how issues will show on each team or project task board.

image11

 

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 designed processes for our non-development teams.

Other JIRA workflows to consider:

  • Corporate strategy
  • Overview for all project managers
  • Sales team
  • Small projects

This resulted in a optimized general team type board which was simple but also capable of sending job requests to visual designers. The process uses the same master workflow, but fewer statuses to get things done.

 

image5

We even created a flow for our sales team to replace are simple sales and crm processes. We used our general team flow and added new custom status that is compatible with our master workflow so some work can be shared with the design team.

image10

Get started on JIRA

Once you have all your processes documented, be prepared to convert your list into JIRA status labels, and flow chart with transitions that connect each status.

image1

 

We started using JIRA after our master workflow was decided, and continued to experiment live. However, we recommend to plan as much as possible beforehand to prevent too many changes or fixes that may cause confusion and stoppage to current projects.

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

Next: 07 Getting Started with JIRA: Start From Your Free Trial

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.

image4

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.

image6

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.

image2

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.

image5

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?

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

image5

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

image3

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

image6

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.

image2

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.

image4

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?