July 15, 2019

Jira for Project Management – The Best Decision

Since its original launch in 2002 as a bug tracking software, Jira has come a long way with its multiple changes and innovative development. Now one of the premier project management software out there, Jira is just as much of a household name as the different companies and organizations that use the software. The key to Jira’s success has always been and continues to be its adaptability, transparency, and customization. Read on to learn more about Jira and its capabilities as the project management software and why you and your team should be using it.

Before we start convincing you to choose Jira as your project management software there are some basic definitions and technicalities to go over. And when we say basic, we mean really basic. If someone were to ask you how to define project management, what would your response be? The words project management tends to float in our minds as a word we use as a definer not one that we actually define.

It’s thrown around in a variety of industries and often times serves as a catchall phrase to describe a large ambiguous task. Project management though, means something very specific and actually defines the process of getting said task done.

A broader definition of project management is “the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific project objectives according to the project acceptance criteria within agreed parameters.” The key words to take are “within agree parameters.” Parameters are predefined depending on what type of methodology you’re using. Project management isn’t just one type of process. There are different ways of project managing depending on the different tasks at hand.

Agile Project Management

To make things a little more complicated, there isn’t just one method of project management. When it comes to software development, agile is the bees’ knees. According to Atlassian, agile project management is “an iterative approach to managing software development projects that focuses on continuous releases and incorporating customer feedback with every iteration.” What on earth does that mean?

In layman’s terms agile project management is a methodology that ensures flexibility and adaptability during the development and maintenance of software. Essentially, large tasks are broken down into smaller ones to allow for problems to be fixed as you go instead completing an entire task only to come back to the problems. Spearheading problems as they occur is certainly beneficial for the purposes of more effective planning, forecasting, and management.

Just like there are different project management methods, there are different agile frameworks. Two frameworks, Scrum and Kanban, practice agile management by splitting tasks differently. Scrum uses fixed-length iterations of work, referred to as sprints. It requires a four step process or as it’s referred to in lingo, ceremonies. These ceremonies are planning, demo, stand-up, and retrospective phases. There’s an emphasis on the importance of backlogs and referring to them. The Scrum framework also involves having teams with specific roles like Scrum master, product owner, and the Scrum Team, who focus on their relevant tasks.

The second framework used in agile is Kanban. In the Kanban framework work is matched to the team’s capacity and emphasizes getting things done as quickly as possible. Like Scrum, there are four components of Kanban which are a list of work or stories, columns or lanes, working progress limits (WIP), and continuous releases. Significance is placed on the “To Do” column to ensure a focus on continuous releases.

Agile project management is by far the most commonly used methodology of project management when it comes to software. If you’re interested in practicing agile or using a software that utilizes agile, consider reaching out for expert help to get you started. MORESIMP specializes in Jira software which exercises agile project management.

More Project Management Methodologies

With all that’s been said about agile, we don’t want to leave you with limited information. There many more other types of project management methodology. For those concerned with cleaning out systems use Lean. Lean focuses on the elimination of waste within a manufacturing system in a systematic way.

Another type of project management is Waterfall. Imagine a cascading waterfall, the water can only go one direction and that’s down. Waterfall project management is a sequential and linear process. This means no phase begins until the prior phase is complete. Then there’s the Traditional methodology where running projects run in a sequential cycle of initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. This method is for projects where activities are completed in a sequence with rarely any changes.

When it comes to project management, you need to determine which methodology works best for you and your team. Different methodologies work well for certain industries or projects, while others not so much. We do know that agile is used by quite a few premier software like Jira.

Jira and Agile

Let’s get back to Agile and why it’s so commonplace and its importance. Agile project management provides rapid responses to changes in an organization. It ensures the quality of any given project since testing is done during a development cycle. Working in steps means being able to predict costs. Overall agile provides opportunities for adaptability and development and better planning.

If you’ve read our other blog posts, you’ve seen the words adaptability and development before when we were talking about Jira.  Although Jira is designed for software development, it has a Kanban workflow management system making it a versatile tool that already incorporates agile. Jira’s incorporation of agile is like killing two birds with one stone. In this case you can have your cake and eat it with a powerful software and a popular project management method.

Jira for Project Management

Jira is a software development tool created by Atlassian which is used for the purposes of bug and issue tracking and project management. It’s available as a cloud service or can be hosted on a company’s own server. Jira is offered in three different packages: Jira Core, Jira Software, and Jira Service Desk. Jira is used to manage projects, monitor details, measure performance, and keep a team organized.

The fact that Jira can be self-hosted is unique from other project management systems that only provide an online solution. The benefits of using Jira for project management lay in its customization where information is easy to access, logged in a central database and distributed through workflows or processes.

Why use Jira for project management? There are four distinct reasons to use Jira, with the first already mentioned, its customization. From changing its board to match a team’s specific needs to the software’s integration capabilities, Jira is a software you can change and build upon to make better. The availability of plugins, plus its compatibility with other Atlassian software also allows you to create an even better and more powerful system.

The second reason to use Jira for project management is transparency. Each task and who’s assigned to it is made clear so everyone knows who’s doing what and can be kept accountable. The third reason is about flexibility. Since Jira utilizes agile practices, changes can occur at any time and when they happen, a team member can create a new ticket to notify and assign a person the task. The fourth reason is Jira’s user experience. Jira’s high quality interface uses an easy to use drag and drop feature. The ability for users to comment also makes it simple to communicate with others while letting the rest of the team follow the thought process.

Customization, transparency, flexibility, and experience, there’s a reason why Jira is so popular.

Who can use Jira for project management?

Although originally development for software developers, Jira is adaptable and flexible for a large selection of different industries. Jira is used in professional services, healthcare, IT/technology, finance, retail, and more. It’s provided for free to open source projects that are non-academic, non-commercial, non-government, non-political, non-profit, and secular. If you’re not one of those categories, the full source code is available for academic and commercial customers.

Certain industries can benefit from using Jira as a project management software. Marketing companies that need to create or monitor campaigns and have various freelance writers, designers, engineers, et cetera to keep track off can easily communicate with one another through Jira. Companies that already use Jira for marketing purposes include household names like Twitter or Uber.

Within the compliance industry, trading and banking firms can used Jira to track accurate workflow and keep consistent records of documentation in case they are ever audited. Financial firms BlackRock and Capital are listed as using Jira as a part of their internal systems. Remote companies and teams in general would find Jira useful as a way to be organized and communication despite distance or time zones.

How does Jira work as a project management system?

Jira incorporated agile methodology right into its software and follows the agile framework’s four main principles. These four principles are:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

As a powerful and extensive piece of software it’s absolutely necessary to be familiar with the core components of Jira: workflows, time and progress tracking, permissions, phases, components, and subtasks. Understanding the components of Jira is a task in it of itself and we suggest you check out MORESIMP’s article on Jira for additional information.

What really makes Jira the optimal project management system is making it work for you and your team. There is an abundance of add-ons and plugins available to customize your team’s Jira experience. Plugins for remote work, mobile development, product management, DevOps, and Support can assist in broadening your team’s capabilities.

MORESIMP is an Atlassian Solution Partner who specializes in developing add-ons, introducing, maintaining, and hosting Atlassian product. They offer a variety of products in the Atlassian Marketplace. There are a couple of favorite apps for you to check out like JExcel PRO. JExcel PRO gives Jira an Excel-like user interface and vocabulary for instant familiarity. It’s particularly useful for those who haven’t used Jira before or if demonstrating something to someone who hasn’t used it.

Another useful MORESIMP app is ImpEx. Impex is a tool for exporting and importing issues easily. This app is great for importing issues into Excel since Jira no longer offers this option on their own since the release of Jira version 7.2.X. It’s an alternative that’s way more business-friendly and allows stakeholders who don’t know how to use Jira to be more involved.

For those interested in enhancing agile capabilities, MORESIMP’s Plangle is a hierarchical issue editor that utilized agile planning features. Plangle offers Excel like editing capabilities, quick Jira issue creation, flexible estimation of stories and sub-tasks, and more. Answer questions like what would the ideal team structure be or how much a project will cost you.

Enable you non-admin users in Jira to create projects on their own without the risk of creating unnecessary configuration objects with MORESIMP’s Easy Project Creator (EPC). You’ll be able to see which user groups have the right to create easily in your admin panel. Create more opportunities with task delegation and accountability.

With the help of apps, plugins, or add-ons Jira can become the project management tool you and your team need and want.

The Flip Side

One size doesn’t fit all and this is certainly the case when it comes to project management. What’s most important is making the decision to select a system that works for you and your team. There are some considerations to make when making decisions even if it’s whether or not you should go with Jira.

There is no doubt that Jira is a powerful piece of software and with power comes complexity. Sometimes a company just doesn’t need everything Jira has to offer and needs something a little simpler.  If this is the case, online solutions like Asana are a viable option. If your team doesn’t already know how to use Jira, then it will take time to get them to the point of being able to. This downfall is quite a negative as you’d think though. It could instead be an opportunity to ensure your team learns and uses best practices.

Don’t forget that there’s only so much the software can do and it’s up to you and your team to have product management, project management, and software development methods and processes. In the end, Jira is a tool there to assist you and further optimize your operations.

Why Using Jira for Project Management is the Best Option

If there was a mantra for referring to Jira it would be “customization, transparency, flexibility, and experience” over and over again. This mantra also works well with the agile project management framework, which we’ve already explained as the preferred methodology in project managing. Jira’s already optimized for agile with Kanban and Scrum boards meaning a few different things.

Practicing agile means keeping customers involved. Cost can be lowered since problems are found along the way so you don’t need to change an entire project once supposedly completed. Breaking things down which mean easier evaluations so quicker changes can be made when needed.

There’s a reason Jira is one of the most used pieces of software and that a large variety of companies from varying industries use Jira. Its reputation and reliability has withstood the test of time. Jira has changed with the times in realizing the need for an effective project management software that also includes its original features. It’s a multi-tool.

The fact that your developers are probably already using or have used Jira before is a serious consideration in being able to move forward with the software. Speaking of which, using a software that other companies are using could result in better partnerships and collaborations. It makes things way easier to transfer or develop a process or framework to do things in together.

And if it’s the case of no one having used Jira, think of it as an investment not just for you, but the individual members of your team, broaden your team’s skill base.

Get started with Jira today and your team’s project management tool with the help of MORESIMP.

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