JIRA - Love at First Site for Developers, a Slow Courtship for Business
Updated September 20, 2016
JIRA - Love at First Site for Developers, a Slow Courtship for Business
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with JIRA Software
The use of JIRA is company-wide but sporadically. JIRA is viewed as an "opt-in" tool in our organization and is mainly sought by the development groups. We have had some success pushing it out to business users in departments that would benefit from ticketing and tracking of workload. In general, development and QA are the primary users.
- Differentiated workflows. It was important to us that new product development could be handled differently than IT implementation bugs, etc., and JIRA does a great job of allowing us to treat efforts appropriately without a lot of complicating customization.
- Card view. The layout of the work items on the board is user friendly and easily gives the team a handle on what is happening during the working period. The drag and drop functionality is constantly lauded by our teams and whenever alternate tools are reviewed, is one of the top features used for comparison.
- Simplified Querying. One of the biggest selling points to the business groups that have taken on JIRA is that finding items in the system doesn't depend on someone with say, SQL talents. Though there are complaints on querying more complicated information from some, overall the WYSIWYG interface for querying tickets is very helpful for business users to "self-service" information.
- Integration with wiki tool (Confluence). This I think is one of the biggest draws for us on the business side. We find that JIRA is sometimes too complicated for the business user and were able to build dashboards and pages that help the business users navigate to what they need to know. Being able to maintain up-to-date reporting from JIRA without having to constantly update is beyond valuable.
- Reporting. JIRA has always been a little finicky on the reporting side in my opinion. The gadgets are helpful but can be confusing if you aren't shown how to use them. Time tracking continues to get worse rather than better with the removal of the one built-in timesheet we had replaced by a paid plugin with fewer options.
- Roles Based Permissions. JIRA is really light on this but you can work it out using validations in the workflows and permission schemes. I think this is not intuitive for most admins and they wind up with a very unrestricted instance of the tool. Sometimes setup can be a pain because of the openness.
- Ramp up is long. JIRA is really difficult to understand and to be properly configured if it doesn’t suit you out of the box. Once you understand all the ins and outs of the setup process you can wind up with a decent tool but it's the fact that you need someone to sit there and learn it before you can use it - not a coherent message to management when pitching Agile.
- Or to some "missing features". Some features that the community feels should be a part of the core product are only available via plugin. Again, the message to management when trying to purchase these is disconcerting to leaders that are used to the "big box, all in one, everything you need, one price" solutions.
- Business Features. Depending on your final configuration you may find tracking business features rather onerous. Based on release structure we have a non-traditional setup where our business projects exist in one space with children work in software spaces. It is the easiest solution to our technical release issues. There is only one ticket type that can have children spanning projects and it is the Epic. Pulling in children tickets is time-consuming and laborious. I discovered that I could automate update of a ticket field on children tickets to help tracking back but it's not elegant and is open to creating gaps should things change (and they often do in Cloud JIRA).
- Positive: this tool provides a convenient and efficient workspace for our developers/QAs as well as transparency for our leaders in the Dev/QA space. Higher level tracking (at the Epic) level gives greater transparency at the business feature level but could be improved.
- Negative: this tool requires a lot of time to learn and maintain. Updates are not always clear in their impact so you do accept (even in a Cloud situation) that if you do not use JIRA with no modifications (I have never heard of this by the way) you will need someone to keep an eye on it. Consider it to be 25% to 50% of a headcount based on your configuration complexity.
We remain with JIRA even though our umbrella company is fully invested with ServiceNow(SNOW) as SNOW has just a portion of the utility of JIRA when it comes to agile development. SNOW also requires advanced technicians and an entire support team to maintain, whereas JIRA's cloud structure allows a team of 3 maintain most functions here. Our umbrella company is also invested with Workfront in the creative/marketing area, again, there are key functions like the scrum planning and though the reporting appears to be superior, there is a fair amount of manual interaction required to keep it up to date - much more for our purposes that is automatic in JIRA.
JIRA is a great tool for developers or business user with the cognitive abilities to build ticket searches. It allows users to manage work within Scrum principles and provides easy to use interfaces for the technically inclined. If your user base is broad and you need to allow for differing treatment of work tickets JIRA is a good tool. I think JIRA is simply too overwhelming for some teams, providing a vast array of features that are not required. For those teams something simpler might be a better fit. I also think that business users that are not technically inclined will experience a long ramp up and might even defect (if allowed) out of frustration without a mentor.
JIRA Software Support
Whenever I contact the support staff at JIRA I find the interaction to be typical to support interactions. Quite a few of the staff are very friendly and always seem to want to help. I have given them a couple tough situations that they've had to take back but all-in-all it seems like they try very hard to get to the root of the problem in a timely manner.
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
Difficult to get immediate help
No - I don't know that it is offered for JIRA - we do have quicker service based on our impacted users which tends to be large.
Yes - I think the term "bug" might be the wrong label. We had a misaligned update. Since we are on the Cloud and the releases are managed by Atlassian we encounter situations where our instance is part of that 1% customization that breaks when the release goes out. We routinely inquire as to how to maintain certain functionality and often find it has been updated and we simply need to update our approach.
Using JIRA Software
I think JIRA has a lot of complexity for a less technical user and I am torn between whether that is an essential problem. I tend to believe that users should choose the tool that fits the work; this means does it make sense for the typical user and how much integration with other systems does it provide? If both of these things are high, I would say the tool deserves high consideration. As a technical tool I think JIRA falls squarely in line with technical expectations - it also provides a high degree of integration possibilities with other tools. I suppose if you were forced to choose one tool you should plan on a staggered approach to rolling it out, starting with the technical team guided by someone with a process background.
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Feel confident using
Lots to learn
- Prioritization for Stories, etc is very nimble; caveat for the issuetype "Epic" which is decidedly less so.
- Sprint planning
- WYSIWYG query tool
- Dashboard gadgets for Agile development tracking
- Feature prioritization (at the Epic level for our shop) is very hard to use in the Backlog - we've developed a hack where we prioritize Epics in a Kanban board but it's got an element of disconnect to the Backlog planning that isn't very "agile"
- Portfolio tracking - you might try to arrange features according to Business Goals but you'd have to 1) purchase the Portfolio tool from Atlassian which is the same price as the JIRA Software itself or 2) build and maintain insane filters
- Time tracking - your time tracking will again be a choice between purchasing a plugin that does half of what you want or maintaining JQL that does backflips for the same level of value