Top 3 Jira Software Secrets for a Smooth Digital Agency Workflow

IGNITE® - 12 May 2020

Utilising Jira for keeping track of your project tasks and features can be an equally empowering and daunting step. Knowing which features to turn on or off can lead you down an Atlassian document reading frenzy that could last days.

Here at IGNITE, we took only the best, most relevant features for understanding the health of our projects and ignored the rest (for the time being at least). These features help visualise the health of our projects, without adding unnecessary visual clutter or interfering with simple workflow.

1. board SETTINGS

There are several options to adjust your scrum or kanban board to quickly visualise the health of your project.

Board Settings can be changed via the “…” menu in the top right of your board.

You can then utilise the menu on the left hand side of the page to adjust your board settings.

Columns > Issue count – Within the Columns menu, change the ‘Column Constraint’ via the drop down menu to ‘Issue Count’. This allows you to quickly see how many tasks remain in each column of your board.

Boards are inherently visual, and while it is useful to be able to see if your board is weighted more on the left (tasks to do) or the right (tasks done), the ‘Issue Count’ gives you a numerical indication of exactly where your team is up to. It also reduces the need to generate additional project health reports for your clients.

Quick filters – Quick filters allow you to filter the tasks on your board based on certain criteria. For example, Project Managers who need to schedule a resource can utilise the ‘Assignee’ filter to see how many tasks a particular resource has assigned to them. The 3 main filters that are most useful are ‘Assignee’, ‘Issue type’ and ‘Recently updated’. Add and delete as many filters as you require.

If you have more than 3 filters, the ‘Quick filter’ drop down will appear at the top of your board.

Card colours – You can add an identifiable colour to your tasks based on issue type, assignee, priority etc. Arguably if you have a Quick Filter in place for each assignee, as well as the visual profile picture sticker then you won’t necessarily need assignee option. ‘Issue type’ can also be identified by the icon on the task. For optimal use of this feature, ‘Card colours’ should be set to ‘Priorities’.

Card layout > Days in column – Jira puts it best when describing this feature as “Showing a visual indicator on each card that represents the time spent in the column. This can help identify slow moving issues.” The more dots on the indicator, the longer the task has remained stagnated.

Estimation – For the basis of resource planning (weather that is scheduling or sprint planning) knowing how much time is left on a task is vital info. You can get this information at-a-glance by turning on the ‘Estimation Statistics’, which is available either in time, story points or issue count. Your team will then ‘burn down’ the time or story points.

If you only want to know how long an original estimate was, choose ‘None’ under ‘Time Tracking’. If you want to know how long is remaining on a task, select ‘Remaining estimate and time spent’.

2. Importing your tasks

Unnecessary data entry is a waste of your agency’s time, smarts, and most importantly, your money.

At IGNITE, we utilise the system import function to create all our Jira tasks, saving hours of project budget, and ensuring nothing gets missed between brain and keyboard.

The ‘External System Import’ via CSV is the best option for non-technical Project Managers.

While it is a straightforward process, the main things that can trip some people out are:

  1. Importing tasks without having set up your Epics. Without going into too much detail about agile workflows, Epics help to categorise pieces of work or tasks into groups. You first need to create your Epics in your board, before importing your tasks, so that the tasks know which Epic they should link too.
  2. Importing without a Summary. All tasks must have a Summary to be imported successfully.
  3. Importing without a description. A Summary is good, but a detailed, comprehensive description is much better. Include links to artwork files or affected pages. The more detail the better.

3. Bulk change tasks

If you don’t like data entry, then you’re sure to hate repetitive actions. You might have a project team member that has come onboard and needs multiple tickets assigned to them, or you’ve realised a set of tasks should be in a different Epic than the one you had originally placed them in. This is where Bulk Actions come in.

Simply go to your Backlog view and command+click on the tasks you want to change.

  1. Right click and select Bulk Change.
  2. Select the Operation you want to perform (mostly it will be ‘Edit Issues’).
  3. Change the appropriate field and Acknowledge the change.

Conclusion

While these features are just scratching the surface of what’s possible in Jira, they are some quick-wins that IGNITE has found to significantly decrease the time spent on administrative project management tasks, while significantly increasing the likelihood of a healthy, on time, on budget project!

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