Jira Software Review

Table of Contents

Jira Software Pricing

  • Cloud-based pricing starts at $10/month for up to 10 users. Pricing increases based on your number of users. Includes free 7 day trial.
  • Self-hosted pricing starts at a one-time payment of $10 for 10 users, increasing based on your number of users. Includes free 30 day trial.

Jira Software Full Review

Jira Software is a powerful project management tool designed for Agile software development teams. Launched in 2003, Jira Software is one of three distinct applications offered under the Jira suite, which consists of Jira Core (designed for non-technical teams), Jira Software (designed for software engineers), and Jira Service Desk (designed for help desks and call centers). While the products are all distinct, the overall project management functionality is similar, and each product helps teams track issues and manage their workflow more efficiently. Jira Software is currently used by over 50,000 customers around the world including eBay, Spotify, and Airbnb. For the purpose of this review, we'll focus on Jira Software, but functionality across different products within the Jira suite is overall quite similar.

Jira Software is primarily used by software development teams. Incorporating customizable Scrum and Kanban boards, users can plan and organize tasks at a project level, set priorities for each task, and collaborate with team members. Teams can also establish processes by building custom workflow maps, which helps to standardize workflows across projects.

Key Features

Below, we'll discuss the key features of Jira Software and how they can benefit your business.

Project Management

Jira Software is primarily used to help Agile software development teams manage projects using either a Scrum or Kanban board. These boards enable teams to break down complex projects into smaller tasks and issues, which can then be assigned to individual team members. Issues can represent anything ranging from bugs to user stories. Boards must have a location (either project or person) and can hold up to 5,000 issues at once. While both Scrum and Kanban boards have similar functionality, there are a few key differences specific to each framework.

Jira Review Creating Boards

Scrum Boards

Scrum boards allow teams to organize their backlog and manage their sprints. Work is broken down into smaller segments (issues) and completed in set sprint cycles, which typically range from 2 to 4 weeks. During each sprint, the team focuses on these specific issues, and aims to complete them within this timeframe.

Jira’s Scrum board incorporates two backlogs: a product backlog displaying various issues in prioritized order, and a sprint backlog that gets filled using the product backlog until the capacity has been reached. Capacity can be viewed as a percentage of estimated engineering hours required to complete assigned tasks for each team member, in order to ensure that your team doesn’t get overbooked. Tasks can be added to the sprint simply by dragging and dropping issues from the backlog into the planning section.

Jira Review Sprint Backlog

Kanban Boards

Kanban boards help organize tasks into various states, such as "In Progress", "To Do", and "Completed. Each project is displayed on a card that moves through various columns (or lanes) on the board until completed. As an example, new issues may start in the "To Do" column, and moved to the "In Progress" stage when the team is ready to begin working on it.

Work is allocated based on work in progress (WIP) limits, which are predefined limits that a single column can sustain. Minimum and maximum column constraints can be defined to ensure your team doesn’t exceed their overall work capacity.

Jira Review Kanban Board

Bug & Issue Tracking

Jira is especially useful for bug and issue tracking. Issues can be broken down into sub-tasks, which allow you to allocate and assign various aspects of an issue to different team members.

Issues can be created by selecting the "+" icon from the sidebar or from your backlog. Users are then able to enter relevant information such as the associated project where the bug was found, the issue type, and a brief summary that can include screenshots and a severity rating. Users can add or remove specific fields in the issue form, which allows you to customize these tickets for your company's needs.

Jira Review Creating Issues

To ensure your team is working on the correct tasks, issues can be assigned and prioritized in order of importance. New issues appear at the top of the backlog with a drag-and-drop functionality, allowing you to quickly adjust and re-organize your teams priorities.

Jira Software offers excellent transparency and ensures that the right team members are notified when tickets are updated. For example, when the status of an issue changes, team members who are tagged on the ticket will receive automatic notifications. There's also a comments field on each ticket, which is helpful for communicating any information regarding the issue, or for asking any clarifying questions.

As you can see in the screenshot below, Jira provides convenient boards that display all relevant tasks for the current sprint, so you can easily see what the team is working on.

Jira Review Managing Backlog

Custom Workflows

Workflows are processes that you define that specify the steps each issue must go through in order to be completed. Each workflow is made up of a set of "statuses", "transitions", and "resolutions".

Jira Review Creating Custom Workflows

Users can create custom workflows from scratch using Jira's drag-and-drop builder, or by importing ready-to-go workflows from the Atlassian Marketplace.

You can assign a workflow to multiple projects and, if needed, make use of workflow schemes, which make it possible to assign different workflows to specific issue types within projects. Jira Software also enables administrators to import and export workflows, as well as activate and deactivate them as necessary.

Setting up workflows can be confusing and time-consuming. If you are not yet familiar with the software, we recommend starting with a simple workflow and optimizing it as needed. If your workflow is too complicated, it may be difficult for your team to understand and adopt, which can defeat the purpose of creating these workflows in the first place.

Reporting and Dashboards

Jira Software provides detailed insights into your projects and sprints, by providing a wide range of intuitive dashboards and reports. A system dashboard offers useful snippets of information such as recent activity and assigned issues. Administrators can customize the dashboard panel by adding gadgets from the Atlassian Marketplace, or by creating custom gadgets (which are essentially just dashboards that display specific information, i.e. "tickets assigned to me", or "newly listed tickets").

Jira Review Dashboards

Though being able to create gadgets is very powerful and is an important part of Jira, it comes with a steep learning curve, and may require some basic programming knowledge. However, this is one of the most powerful aspects of Jira, and those who spend the time learning how to create custom gadgets will be able to get the most out of the software since they'll be able to customize their dashboards to their liking.

While dashboards are useful for continued monitoring and quick feedback, the reports section within Jira Software offers more in-depth information about your team's performance. Built-in reports provide insight about your Agile workflow, Issue Analysis and Forecast Management. You can also use Jira Query Language (JQL) to create filters using any data field, which can be useful for creating custom reports.

Is Jira Software Right for You?

Jira Software is an all-in-one project management tool that supports agile software development teams. Advanced bug and issue tracking capabilities allow every team member to monitor the progress of an issue from beginning to end. Jira Software uses Scrum and Kanban boards to support Agile work methodologies, and facilitate collaboration and transparency within teams.

The software has both cloud-based and self-hosted options available. With the ability to customize workflow process and extend the functionality through add-ons, Jira Software offers a scalable solution for teams of all sizes across a range of industries.

If you’re looking for a lightweight project management solution, then Jira Software may not be the best option due to the steep learning curve for new users. However, if you have the time to invest in training, the software's rich capabilities are best-in-class, which is why Jira is such a popular tool for software development teams.

Bruce Hogan

Bruce Hogan is Co-founder & CEO of SoftwarePundit. He leads the team's research and publishes content about software products and trends. Bruce has experience investing at multi-billion dollar private equity firms, leading teams at venture-backed technology companies, and launching new businesses. You can connect with Bruce on LinkedIn.

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