Best practices for using Jira in business


23 April 2019 • 15 min read

    Atlassian’s flagship product, Jira, is a tool used by thousands of developers all over the world. Today, around 43,900 organizations use Jira to manage and streamline their software development projects.

    But Jira is a versatile tool which companies can use for business projects as well.

    Why use Jira for business teams?

    Companies that want to thrive on the market need to become digital, regardless of their industry. And for effective digital transformation, they need to embrace agility.

    Smart organizations are implementing the agile methodology not only among their technical teams but business ones as well. We all know that business projects are sometimes just as complex as software development projects and require a reliable methodology that leads to success. Agile is in fact increasingly present in business contexts, so it makes sense for business teams to adopt tools built with agility in mind.

    By introducing Jira as the project management tool of choice for both technical and business teams, organizations stand to launch successful digital transformation programs and gain a competitive advantage on the market.

    In this article, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the best practices for using Jira in business teams, especially the ones that follow the agile methodology.

    1. Set your requirements in the backlog

    Jira is equipped with everything an agile business team needs. One of the features that come in handy at the beginning of a project is epics. Essentially, epics help business teams to identify their project’s scope.

    You can use epics to describe what needs to be done – for example, a task like launching a content marketing campaign for a target audience located in the United Kingdom.

    Once your epics are ready, you can start breaking them down into stories that define tasks that need to be accomplished more precisely – for example, for the epic we defined above, one of the stories could be ‘Creating a brand video for UK audiences.’

    When summed up, all the stories make up one epic. And the sum of all epics defines the scope of your project.

    In this context, the backlog serves as a task pipeline for the project team. You can use the backlog to store all the requirements for your project and continuously update them. Your team will be able to see which activities need to be carried out in order to reach specific project objectives.

    Expert tip: If you follow the agile methodology called Scrum, it’s the job of the product owner to maintain the backlog. When translated into the business context, that can be a project manager.

    2. Take advantage of user stories

    User stories are one of the most important artifacts for Scrum project teams. But that doesn’t mean business teams can’t find a use for user stories.

    But first, what is a user story? A user story is a high-level definition of a requirement that contains just enough information to allow developers to produce a realistic estimate of the effort it will take for it to be implemented.

    Working with the backlog, you can take advantage of user stories in this way:

    The entries in your backlog will assume the perspective of the user to describe which features of a given result needs to be fulfilled for the customer to be happy. You can replace these features with specific figures. For example, to increase sales by 10%, you can increase your investment in a sales campaign project by 15%.n

    3. Organize work in short sprints

    Jira was designed with the agile methodology in mind. One of the most popular agile techniques is Scrum. When following Scrum, teams work in short sprints that usually last around two weeks, are filled with daily standup meetings, and followed by a sprint retrospective where they discuss what could’ve gone better and how to optimize their process.

    Business teams can work in sprints as well – and Jira helps project managers to translate that effective methodology into the business context easily.

    Here’s how business teams can work in Scrum sprints using Jira:

    Set a fixed time frame for your sprints and carry out a sprint planning meeting. Consider which tasks your team will be able to complete in the upcoming sprint and how these tasks need to be organized and prioritized.

    Naturally, you’ll be looking at project tasks listed in your backlog. And you’ll do that every time you’ll be planning the next sprints.

    Some extra tips for success:

    • Remember every sprint should generate the deliverables that are testable, measurable, and deployable.
    • Keep your sprints as short as possible to avoid wasting resources in case your team experiences failure. Keep it short and sweet.

    4. Keep everyone updated in daily stand-ups

    Another useful feature of Scrum teams is the daily standup meetings where teams discuss progress and any challenges for just a couple of minutes at the beginning of the day. Usually, the meeting is organized by the Scrum master.

    Product owner and team members all attend and share information or investigate blockers. Standup meetings are informal, but it’s important to let your team know that they should be listening to be aware of the potential challenges in the project and quickly introduce measures to mitigate the risks.

    To help everyone make the most of standup meetings, set up a special space in your Jira projects where team members can add notes from individual standup meetings. That kind of transparency will help your business teams collaborate successfully.

    5. Identify risks

    Speaking of risks, one of the primary challenges of working in the agile methodology with Jira is identifying risks and dependencies across teams and projects. Fortunately, Atlassian prepared development teams for that and allows to improve risk visibility.

    And the same goes for a business team that uses Jira and gets to enjoy the full visualization of dependencies. And since in business projects the risks and dependencies tend to be high, that type of transparency is fundamental to the success of your project.

    6. Evaluate your process during retrospectives

    In the world of software development, every sprint is followed by a sprint retrospective session where the team discusses what they achieved and what they could have done better. The idea is constant optimization of the process.

    Business teams could definitely use such retrospectives too! Ideally, a sprint retrospective looks back on your approach and the project’s progress. It’s good to find areas for improvement that you can address in the next sprints. That way, you’ll keep your team engaged and foster the improvement mindset.

    Team culture plays a crucial role here:

    In this context, asking questions and having doubts is essential and needs to be encouraged. Honesty should become the central value for these meetings. Encourage your team to share their feedback and help them understand that a mistake isn’t a problem, but rather an opportunity for optimizing the team’s work to deliver even better results in the next sprints.

    Key takeaway

    Business teams can draw many benefits from adopting the agile approach – but only as long as they are supported by a tool designed to foster agility. Atlassian’s Jira helps to introduce and maintain agile practices in teams with its straightforward interface.

    By following these best practices, business teams can make the most of Jira to boost their productivity, deliver better results, and help their organization gain a competitive advantage.

    Are you looking for a team of Jira experts who know how to adapt Atlassian’s tools to the needs of business teams?

    Get in touch with us; we’ve helped many organizations implement Jira in areas such as sales, marketing, HR, finance, and legal.

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