How Jira Software supports agile development


3 September 2019 • 19 min read

    Teams that follow the agile methodology require the support of a proper project management tool that fulfills their unique agility requirements. Jira Software has gained a lot of popularity among the agile development teams because of the ways it supports the agile project management methodology used for developing software. Whether it’s Scrum, Kanban, or a mixed agile methods, the extensive customization options of Jira allow adapting it to the way your teams actually work. 

    Excellent adaptability

    You can adjust Jira Software to how your teams work without any problems. It doesn’t matter if your team uses Scrum, Kanban, or a mixed methodology – Jira has all it takes to make the work of agile teams easier. 

    For example, your team can use an agile board and agile reports that allow planning, tracking and managing all the agile software development projects inside a single tool. Jira is agile-ready on many levels and supports different agile methodologies in unique ways. It helps organizations to ensure that teams can keep on working at top efficiency without having to adjust their workflows to the project management tools they’re using.

    Jira is a great pick for Scrum teams

    Scrum is one of the most popular agile frameworks where teams build products in a series of

    short iterations. Sprint planning, daily standup meetings (also called daily Scrums), sprints, and sprint retrospectives – these are the four elements that build the foundation of Scrum. Jira Software comes with a full set of agile tools that help agile teams boost their performance. 

    Here are some of the essential Jira features Scrum teams can use:

    1. Sprint planning 

    Jira includes tools for sprint planning meetings which identify the work the team will complete during the next sprint, based on the backlog or list of work that needs to be done. Using Jira Software, you can easily make the backlog at the center of your sprint planning meeting. The backlog in Jira allows teams to connect stories, check their velocity, adjust sprint scope, and reprioritize issues in real time. These tools help to keep sprint planning meetings productive.

    2. Backlog grooming and management 

    Jira allows reprioritizing user stories and bugs easily. All it takes is selecting one or more issues. You can then drag-and-drop them accordingly to reorder them inside your backlog. To search for issues with specific attributes, you can create quick filters and make your team even more productive.

    3. Assigning story points

    One of the essential elements of the sprint planning meeting is the identification of effort the particular tasks the backlog will take. Agile teams use story points to indicate that. Jira Software allows estimating, tracking, and reporting on story points to help your team be more accurate in estimating tasks for future sprints. It doesn’t matter what method of estimating you use, you can be sure that Jira has your back.

    4. Tracking and managing sprints

    Once the work is fully scoped and prioritized during the sprint planning meeting, your team can get started on tasks as soon as the sprint starts. Jira Software offers a wealth of features that help to keep track of the work completed in each sprint so that your team can focus on the right tasks.

    5. Scrum boards

    A Scrum board visualizes all the work to be completed in a given sprint. In Jira Software, you can customize Scrum boards to match your team’s unique workflow. You can add elements like swimlanes to separate projects, assignees, epics, and more.

    6. Permissions

    Jira Software allows users to set branch permissions to define what specific users can see or do with a given project. Sprint permissions are a handy tool for delegating responsibilities to team members, eventually allowing the team to become more agile and autonomous.

    7. Custom issue types

    One feature of Jira that makes it such a popular choice among agile development teams is the sheer number and variety of customization options. For example, teams can create custom issue type for a story, epic, and other tasks. Moreover, you can create and configure workflows and fields for each issue type. That way, your agile teams can manage their work according to their unique requirements.

    8. Creating personalized workflows

    Speaking of workflows, Jira Software also allows creating custom workflow states and transitions for every issue type your team is working on. Issues can be updated automatically on the basis of events happening in other systems. You can also define specific criteria that need to be met before an issue can progress.

    9. Daily standup meetings

    One of the most important Scrum ceremonies is the daily standup meeting, a short meeting where the team comes together to go through the list of what has been done and what they will work on next. This is also the moment to identify problems, issues that may require someone’s help, and blockers. Jira software helps agile teams to get a quick view of the work in progress. That way, everyone comes prepared to discuss the most important items for a given day.

    10. Custom dashboards

    Jira offers a comprehensive set of dashboards that can be customized to help Scrum Master or project manager to keep an eye on the project’s progress and quickly identify bottlenecks before they become serious problems. Moreover, Jira dashboards can serve the entire team and boost its transparency. You can use the Wallboard to display your custom dashboard on a TV to keep the entire team up-to-date.

    11. Scrum reports

    Jira Software offers a number of agile reports that are specifically designed for the needs of Scrum teams. By using Scrum reports, you will make your sprint retrospectives more data-driven and productive. Highlighting areas for improvement during the upcoming sprint will be easier as well. 

    Here’s a short overview of all the essential Scrum reports featured in Jira:

    • Sprint report – a sprint report helps the team to understand the work that has been completed or pushed back to the backlog in every sprint. That way, you can see whether your team is overcommitting or you’re suffering from excessive scope creep. 
    • Burndown chart – you can use this chart to track the total amount of work remaining in the sprint and the likelihood of achieving the sprint goal. Burndown charts help to manage the team’s progress and respond to changes quickly. 
    • Velocity chart – managers, use this chart to determine their teams’ velocity and estimate the amount of work they can realistically complete in future sprints. It basically tracks the amount of work completed from sprint to sprint. 
    • Cumulative flow diagram – the diagram shows the number of issues for each status. It allows to easily identify blockers: a high number of issues increasing in any given state is an indication of that. 
    • Control chart – the chart allows checking the cycle time of your product, sprint, or version. That way, you can identify whether the current data can be used to determine the future performance of your team. 
    • Epic report – this report helps to understand your team’s progress towards completing an epic and manage the work by tracking the remaining incomplete tasks. 
    • Epic burndown chart – this chart helps to track the projected number of sprints that are required to complete an epic. You can use it to monitor whether an epic will be released on time. That way, if you notice that work is falling behind, you can quickly take action.

    How Kanban teams can use Jira

    Jira Software also supports Kanban, an agile methodology based on the idea of delivering continuous releases. Teams can track their work using Kanban boards that display the statuses of work in different columns and lanes. Kanban is essential for teams because it includes elements such as continuous releases, work in progress (WIP) limits, columns or length, and the list of work. 

    Jira Software helps to run Kanban with any team thanks to its out-of-the-box tools and features. For example, you can create a Kanban board using one of the default workflows and then start adding issues. Once your team gets used to working with the board, you can customize your workflow, project, or issue types to match your team’s unique requirements. 

    Then you can add work in progress limits to restrict the number of stories in each status. This feature is very important because it helps to prevent particular states from becoming bottlenecks in your progress. 

    Jira workflows can be simple or complex – and they will change as your team grows. Kanban boards set up in Jira Software offer agile development teams full visibility into what everyone is working on it and when a given task is completed. Virtual boards like the one included in Jira allow filling cards with issue details, but every work item will display only the most important information on the board itself for readability.

    The takeaway

    Atlassian’s Jira Software was designed with agile development teams in mind. That’s why it includes everything an agile team needs to become more productive, ship work faster, and improve the quality of teamwork. Whether your team is using Scrum, Kanban, or a mixed methodology, you can be sure that Jira contains all the features, reports, and tools you need. 

    If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with our consultants – we help organizations make the most of Jira Software for agile development by configuring workflows, adding extensions, and implementing best agile practices that bring tangible business value.

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