How to create a business workflow in Jira Core


29 April 2019 • 15 min read

    If there’s one thing that unites all teams is that they need workflows to track and measure their work accurately. It doesn’t matter if they’re technical or business-oriented; teams that want to boost their productivity need a method for formalizing their workflows.  

    And the best way to do that is with the help of a project management tool that offers extensive customization options for business workflows. Jira Core includes many functionalities that come in handy for all types of business teams: HR, legal, marketing, sales, or finance.

    For example, marketing teams can use Jira Core to manage content review cycles. Legal teams can use it to track legal documentation revisions.

    In this article, I want to dive into the topic of business workflows in Jira Core to show you how to set them up and use them. I’ll also share some best practices for end-users and administrators to help them make the most for from Jira Core.

    Let’s start with some key concepts: business project vs. business workflow

    What exactly are business projects and business workflows? How do they differ from one another?

    In general, a business project is the workflow template that helps business teams organize, plan, and track work. Workflows in business projects are tools that help business teams define all the steps from completing a task.

    Business projects include workflows for:

    • project management,
    • task management,
    • process management.

    In general, task management workflows come in handy for completing simple tasks. You can use project management workflows for larger projects such as a marketing campaign. Finally, process management workflows help in managing recurring tasks like for purchase approvals.

    Here’s a brief overview of these three types of workflows and their individual steps.

    As you can see, the way workflows are visualized in Jira gives teams full transparency of the process and allows them to quickly understand where a given task is located in the process and what the next steps towards completion are.

    Expert tip: In Jira Core, workflows can be individually tailored to address the unique needs of a given team. You can rely on out-of-the-box workflows, take your time to test them out, and then customize them, so they match how your team works.

    Workflows: basic Jira Core glossary

    When it comes to workflows, there are several important definitions you need to know to help your team make the most of this feature.

    • Issues – issues are basically the things you need to do in your project. In business projects, issues are called tasks.
    • Status – a status represents the state of a task at a specific point in your workflow. The good thing about a formalized workflow is that you know which statuses a task needs to pass before it reaches completion (defined as the status of ‘done’).
    • Transition – a transition is a connection that links tasks to statuses. Note that a transition goes only in one direction.

    But how does it work in practice?

    Let’s take a closer look at this example to see how all these definitions come together to streamline the work of teams.

    Workflow example: marketing

    One of the most common marketing processes is writing copy for a landing page. That process may bring together different team members such as the copywriter, web designer, UX designer, and web developer.

    In my example, the copywriter and project manager go through several stages in a customized process management workflow to develop well-written copy for a landing page.

    Here’s a basic outline of an example workflow together with its statuses.

    • To do – planning of the landing copy that needs to be created by the copywriter.
    • Draft – the copy is now being created by the copywriter. The project manager knows that the work has started.
    • Under review – the project manager responsible for the landing page reviews and edits the draft copy.
    • Done – the copy for the landing page is ready to be picked up by the team member responsible for the next task in line.

    Note: before you set out to customize your workflow, it’s a good idea to gather all the team members and stakeholders together to run a workflow design workshop. In practice, it means organizing a meeting where the business team writes all their work processes on the whiteboard. It’s essential that you understand the needs of your business team before translating them into business projects and individual steps in the workflow.

    Next up: transitions

    In the example above, the steps and statuses have been established. We can now focus on transitions. Transitions prompt users to move tasks to the next step.

    In our example of creating a landing page copy, once the copywriter completes a draft, they can submit it for review using the transition marked as ‘Submit for review.’ That transition will move the task to the project manager who is responsible for the review.

    Jira Core allows adding extra features to the workflow – for example, preset filters that enable you to see which of the submitted landing pages copy files needs to be approved. That’s especially helpful for project managers or other supervising team members who have many tasks on their hands and can’t keep up with everything at the same time.

    Customizing a Jira Core workflow

    Ideally, the creation of our landing page copy would follow that workflow seamlessly. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and in reality, that type of text needs to be reviewed several times before it’s ready for publication.

    You can customize your content review workflow with some advanced features offered in Jira Core.

    For example, you can limit which team members can complete particular tasks, including some extra information before a state transition, or add an email notification after an event occurs.

    These advanced customizations come in three different feature types:

    • Conditions – that control whether a given transition needs to be executed by the user.
    • Validators –  which check that the input made to the transition is valid before that given transitions performed
    • Post-functions – which are responsible for carrying out additional processing required after a user executes a transition.

    For example, not everyone in your team may be authorized to approve content. That responsibility may fall onto a content manager or project manager responsible for managing the website. You can set your workflow in Jira Core to make such team members the only ones who can sign off and move a ticket from Under review to the next stage. That extra condition ensures that only the right people perform the right tasks.

    Here’s another example:

    At your organization, you may need to add an extra step before a user transitions a task from one status to another. To follow our example: if the first draft of the landing page copy is rejected by the project manager, it’s essential that the copywriter knows why. You can add an extra comment field for that particular situation when a task is transitions from Under review to Draft. The project manager can use that field to add commentary for the rejection.

    Business teams can take advantage of these workflow features and adapt them to how they work efficiently.

    Key takeaway

    It’s always worth to check whether your current workflow can be improved or Jira opens the doors to continual workflow optimization. By setting up formalized workflows, you’ll be helping your teams collaborate seamlessly and achieve full transparency to drive your business to success.

    Do you have any questions about setting up and customizing workflows in Jira Core?

    Get in touch with us; our consultants have the skills and expertise to support organizations in the adoption of new digital tools such as Jira Core.

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