Staying organized with Jira
Best Practices for a better project management
Project managers know this problem: A “mountain of work” lays in front of you, and you don’t know how and where to tackle them. Different to-dos lie ahead, but just one task after the other can be handled. If you have selected one task, you may have many small steps, whereby many of those steps are not going to be finished and the task can not be closed. At the end of your stressful day you have the poor feeling to have accomplished nothing.
Atlassian has developed the project management software Jira to help you to overcome exactly these challenges of your everyday work life. Jira helps you as a guide, similar to a map during hiking, to conquer the workload. The tool provides you a route through tickets, sprints and stories and gives you guidance in complex work routine. But to arrive safely at your wished destination, you have to use these instruments in the correct way. Otherwise, you could deviate from the right route.
This article is serving you as an orientation for effective usage of Jira in project management. We will deliver useful best practices, which will improve your project management and team work drastically.
You can prevent typical problems in project work with Jira in advance, through the right sprint planning and the correct creation of tickets.
These are the three most important tips:
- Conservative sprint planning:
It is important to pay attention to planning your sprint rather conservative. If you drag a high amount of tickets in your new sprint, it could happen, that you lose the overview about the tasks and the priorities. Through a properly and realistically planned sprint you avoid half completed tasks and can focus on the most important tickets.
- If time is left, grab tickets from the backlog:
You can use the length of two working days as a benchmark for the amount of time to include into your weekly sprint. This may sound a bit low first, but it is always useful to plan in some time for meetings and unpredictable delays. If there is some time left at the end of the sprint, you can always pick more tickets of your backlog or of future sprints and work on them.
- Prioritize tickets – Order tickets by their urgency:
It is useful to rate your tickets in your sprint planning with a priority and sort them by their urgency. This helps keeping an overview and an eye on tickets which the highest urgency. If you want to start a new ticket, you can choose directly the most urgent one. If you work with prioritization, you can be sure, that the most important tickets are finished at the end of the sprint.
Best practices in sprint planning
- Conservative sprint planning
- If time is left: Grab tickets from the backlog
- Prioritize tickets
- Order tickets by their urgency
Also in the planning of your tickets you should schedule your needed time conservative. Always include a buffer in case of complications. By doing so you can prevent a lot of stress at the end of your sprint.
Moreover, it is useful to create a story for tasks, that include multiple smaller steps.
An example: You received the task to write an article. To finalize the task you have to complete multiple steps like research, writing, proofreading and translation. If you create just one ticket for the process, you and your teammates could lose the overview on the current status of the task very fast. This can be prevented by creating a story and tickets for the mentioned steps, which are linked to the story. With this technique you can tick off more tasks, which always gives you a feeling of reward.
The next hack is very important for effective team collaborations: Create your tickets as clear as possible, so that all of your teammates will understand them too. It is for example useful to exclude complex acronyms to facilitate collaboration with your teammates. If you work in an international team, you should always create your tickets in English, so teammates with different mother tongue will understand the ticket too. These tips might sound like a big effort, but the time investment will pay off when it comes to collaborating with other teammates on joint projects. If you need feedback from other staff members or hand them a ticket over, the task will not need much explanation. The ticket description and comments are important parts of an effective collaboration, too. Through paying attention to these best practices you will improve your team work significantly.
Best practices for ticket creation
- Conservative time assessment
- Stories and connected tickets for bigger tasks
- Create comprehensible tickets for everyone (universal language, no abbreviations etc.)
- Enable effective collaborations
Usage of time tracking
Jira entails some functionalities with which you can track time of your team and projects. They help you to structure your work more effectively through monitoring.
The benefits of time tracking with Jira:
Why is time tracking in Jira so useful? Here is a short list of company goals, that need an analysis of tracked time:
- Setting the focus on strategic goals, projects & the determination of priorities
- Tracking the needed work time for projects & tasks
- Keeping teams & single employees in the loop
- Invoicing customer projects through timesheets
- Involving contractors & clients in the payment process
- Developing processes through real-time reports
- Prospective calculation of similar projects through comparing values of similar projects
- Improvement of communication through visually neat looking reports
The standard time tracking function of Jira is very useful for small businesses, because of their team and project size. With the standard time tracking function you can create simple reports, who will present you the work load clearly. By doing so you can plan and evaluate the resources of your team more effectively.
The weak points of time tracking with Jira:
Unfortunately the standard time tracking functions in Jira are not helpful in every use case. For example in these eight cases:
- Time tracking is needed for various projects of a partner.
- Time tracking is needed for a specific user or a certain team.
- Time tracking should be grouped by epics, components or labels in Jira.
- Contracted hours and actual working hours by a team or user should be compared.
- The budget of a client should be checked.
- The tickets with the biggest processing time for a specific time period should be determined (e.g. last week, last month, last quarter).
- The logged work hours for a specific user are needed for invoicing.
- An overview about time tracking should be created whereby mistakes can be fixed and changes can be implemented.
Actonic has developed the app Report Builder to close these gaps. Report Builder optimizes the functionality of time tracking in Jira in a very smart way. Our app improves your project management through multiple functionalities. It points out how many hours per project you can invoice. It shows you what the time capacity of your employees or the project progress looks like. Furthermore, you can build every report you might ever need with Report Builder and tailor it for your specific needs.
Jira is a tool that enables you to tackle the “mountain of work” effectively. Through the presented best practices you will improve the effectiveness of your project management with Jira. Plan your tickets and sprints conservative, order your tickets by their urgency, create stories for bigger tasks and prepare universal understandable tickets to enable collaborations. The time tracking function of Jira is especially for project managers a useful tool, that can be expanded through our app Report Builder.
Follow those best practices in your daily work life, and you will always stay on the right route.