New Course: Learning Jira (Server Edition)

How do you track your work? As organizations continue to adopt digital technology, more and more teams are leveraging Jira! By learning Jira you’ll be able to easily manage your own daily tasks and help your organization plan their strategic initiatives.

I’ve used Jira since 2011 and it’s the best application I’ve found to manage my work.  Join my LinkedIn Learning course to understand Jira fundamentals and how you can leverage this software to tame your never-ending “to do” list.

Not a LinkedIn Learning member yet? Start your 30 day LinkedIn Learning free trial! Access to my course and others is included with your Premium subscription!

Rachel Wright’s Jira Courses on LinkedIn

Use Jira Cloud instead?

New Jira Basic Administration Course

For every Jira application there’s an administrator that needs to correctly configure settings, manage users, complete customization requests, and ensure the instance supports growth and change in their organization.

But how do you learn to do that?

Take my new course! Jira: Basic Administration is perfect for new Jira admins or anyone who could use a refresher on the top skills every administrator needs.

This course includes the top 5 things every Jira admin needs to know like: adding users, creating projects, editing workflows, and troubleshooting common permission and notification problems.

You’ll learn:

  • how to use Jira,
  • which application type you have,
  • the responsibilities of an administrator,
  • how to access the most used admin areas, and
  • how to set up a test environment so you can experiment without impacting production data.

Take my Jira admin course on LinkedIn. Access is included with your Premium subscription! Not a member yet? Start your 30 day LinkedIn Learning free trial

Rachel Wright’s Jira Courses on LinkedIn

Join the virtual “Best Practices for Managing and Maintaining Your Jira Application” presentation

World events are making in-person presentations impossible! Instead, we’ve shifted to virtual events and are excited to deliver “Best Practices for Managing and Maintaining Your Jira Application” to users all over the world.

Join Rachel Wright at these remote events:

Book Rachel Wright for your next remote event

Manage your out of control Jira application!

Hear Rachel’s Jira best practices remotely!

You know if you don’t maintain your Jira application that it can quickly grow out of control. But where do you start? How do you make small improvements without impacting daily business? What should you do if your application is already a bit of a mess?

In this presentation, we’ll address:

  • how to set standards so you don’t have more schemes to maintain than necessary,
  • how to clean up schemes and custom fields when you have too many,
  • how to archive old projects and unneeded issues,
  • and how to track changes and customization requests so you have a record and an audit trail.

Atlassian Community Events are where users meet, learn, network, and share best practices. User groups meet locally and all over the world.  Group members are newbies and veterans who like to “talk shop” about Atlassian software, Agile development, DevOps, software, and related business topics. Attend these events to network with your peers, share solutions, meet Atlassian Solution Partners, get special content from Atlassian, and maybe enjoy a beer or two.

Join us, join an Atlassian Community Event in your city, or start a community group!

Rachel Wright’s Jira Courses on LinkedIn

Rachel Wright at LinkedIn’s recording studio

I’m excited to announce my Jira courses are now part of LinkedIn’s technology course library! I’m officially a LinkedIn Learning instructor! In March 2020 LinkedIn flew me to their California offices to film my Jira: Basic Administration course.

LinkedIn’s online video courses help you learn software, creative, and business skills. Classes are taught by credible industry experts with a focus on high-quality content and production value. Over 50 new courses are added each week, so there’s always something new to learn.

And the best part: Their entire course library is included with your LinkedIn Premium subscription! Not a member yet? Start your 30 day LinkedIn Learning free trial

I loved teaching Jira administration in their professional video and audio recording studios. I felt like a movie star!

On the Road with Jira

I’ve been on the road since 2015 and I take every opportunity to combine my love of Jira and travel. On this LinkedIn recording trip, I completed another item from my Jira bucket list! I visited the Channel Islands in Ventura, California. The five individual islands are only accessible only by boat. I visited Santa Cruz and Anacapa and can’t wait to go back!

Hello from the Channel Islands

Rachel Wright’s Jira Courses on LinkedIn

Jira User Best Practices

As organizations continue to adopt digital technology, more and more teams are leveraging Jira to track their work. Here are some do’s and don’ts for Jira users.

Do

Here are some best practices and good habits:

Create Jira issues

Create a Jira issue any time you need to track a task. Jira can handle many millions of issues, so don’t worry about filing too many. Also, you can’t really break anything in Jira, so don’t be afraid to use it! The only thing your administrator can’t undo is deletion of data.

Break up large tasks into smaller ones

If you’re working on something big, create multiple issues to break it up into small, manageable chunks. For example, if the task is to make a cake, break that up into different sub-tasks for ingredient shopping, for mixing and baking the ingredients, and for icing the cake after it’s cooled. Ask your Jira Administrator about issue hierarchy in your application.

Breaking up work is also the way to assign multiple people to similar tasks.

Transition issues as you work

Transition issues forward in the workflow as you work on them in real-time. It’s your responsibility to make sure an issue’s current status mirrors reality.

Keep issue details accurate

Keep all issue details and fields up to date. It’s important to complete as many fields as possible and update them as soon as information changes. It’s OK if additional details become available after an issue is created. Add it to Jira right away so everyone has the best information.

Accurate information helps others find issues and generate reports. When an issue is complete, its information should serve as a legal and historical record of what was done.

Take action on issues assigned to you

If an issue is assigned to you, it means you need to take action! Look at the status to see what to do and look in the comments field for any notes left for you.

Fix incorrect assignments

If an issue is assigned to the wrong person simply change the assignee. Unassigned or incorrectly assigned issues create unnecessary delays.

Record action details

When you’ve completed an issue, add a comment explaining what you did, where or how you did it, and anything else others should know right now or in the future.

In the example, a typo on the company website was reported.

I fixed the typo and then added a comment showing I corrected the spelling of the word “customer”, that the change occurred in the first paragraph on the page, and the page I changed was named “terms.html”. 

Now anyone who needs to verify my change knows exactly what to look for and where.  This is just good record keeping.

Log time

When you’ve completed an issue, log how much time it took to complete.  Get into this good habit, even if your organization doesn’t require it.

Logging work is NOT about how good or fast you are!  It’s about planning, prioritization, allocation of resources, and improving estimation for future similar tasks.

For example, if my estimate is 1 hour and I’ve logged 3 hours so far, this could signal there are other factors making this task take longer than expected. Maybe the code is super complex, maybe I could some help clearing road blocks, or maybe I simply mis-estimated.  In the real world, these things happen all the time!  Jira just gives you a way to show it.

A final thought on time logging:

Do you submit a time card or a report of what you’re working on?  Jira can handle both those things for you.  No need for extra manual work!  Ask your Jira Administrator about progress reporting and time logging in your Jira application.

Don’t

Now let’s cover a few things not to do:

Delete issues

If you don’t need an issue, it’s smarter to simply close it rather than delete it.  Use the “Resolution” field to indicate no work is needed because it’s invalid, can’t be reproduced, is a duplicate, or won’t be fixed.

Report an issue and walk away

If you create an issue, you should follow it through to completion, be ready to verify the resolution, and be available to answer questions.  If you create an issue and walk away, it might not be addressed any time soon.

Enter sensitive information

Don’t enter sensitive information into Jira or other applications.  This is sometimes referred to as PII (personally identifiable information) or SPI (sensitive personal information).

Sensitive information includes passwords, personal data (social security numbers and mother’s maiden names), health information (like which health insurance plan an employee has) employment information (like citizen status or salary), and any proprietary or confidential personal or company information.

Contact your Jira Administrator, Security, Legal, and Compliance teams for any company-specific policies.

Also read: 9 Tips for Getting Action in Jira

Jira Server vs Jira Cloud Interface Comparison

Are you migrating from Jira Server to Jira Cloud (or vice versa)? The user interfaces are similar, but there are some differences to prepare for.

In early 2020 Atlassian started incrementally delivering a new navigation experience for Jira Cloud. The return of the horizontal navigation makes the application look similar to Server, but there are still UI differences to be aware of.

Continue reading “Jira Server vs Jira Cloud Interface Comparison”

Application Review: Servado Enterprise Portals for Jira

Quite simply, I love this Jira app. Why didn’t I think of this? Why didn’t Atlassian think of this? Luckily, the good folks at Origo did and I’m excited to share their creation with you! With Servado Enterprise Portals for Jira, there’s finally a real way to tie all your Atlassian (and non-Atlassian) applications together! Now users have a “home base” or a starting point for everything they need to do.

Servado creates a single entry point for your entire organization and it uses your existing Jira database to do it. There’s no need for a separate application; Servado leverages the amazing ticketing and reporting power of Jira, but adds portals, chat, external content, and other capabilities. This application brings everything your organization needs to a single, fully customizable, interface. Servado provides one place to manage all your business processes. Best of all there’s no coding needed and the app only consumes one Jira user license.

Continue reading “Application Review: Servado Enterprise Portals for Jira”

Which type of Jira do I have?

When I started using Jira in 2011 there was only one type. But now there are different application types, like Jira Core, Jira Software, and Jira Service Desk, and different deployment types, like Jira Cloud, Jira Server, and Jira Data Center. If you have Jira Cloud, there are also different plans like Free, Standard, and Premium. How do you know which you have? Why does it matter?

Continue reading “Which type of Jira do I have?”

Tips for Creating Good Jira Forms and Screens

Now that you know why good form design is important and how to ask good questions, here are some quick ways to improve Jira screens and Jira Service Desk request forms.

Jira

Use these easy field tips in Jira.

1. Limit fields on the Create screen

When you create a project, Jira automatically creates screens and schemes for it. A “Kanban Default Issue Screen” includes 14 fields! By the time you’ve added additional custom fields, screens are often long and cumbersome. Just because info is needed, doesn’t mean it’s needed at the same time the issue is created. Group your fields into the following categories:

  • information needed immediately (Ex: Description and Requested date),
  • information needed later in the workflow (Ex: Estimate and Due date),
  • and information needed before an issue is completed (Ex: Time tracking and Root Cause).
Fields for a Simple Create Screen

Only show fields in the first category on the “Create” screen. Fewer fields make issues easier to create, especially for non-technical users.

Also only ask for information the creator can immediately provide. For example, if the creator isn’t the person who calculates the estimate or determines the release date, omit those fields. You can collect that information, during a scheduling process, later in the workflow.

If you have “Edit” and “View” screens, include all the relevant fields, so info is easy to update at any time. Usually these actions can share the same screen but sometimes they are different.  Example:  A field has a value but editing it is not desired.  In this case, the “View” screen shows the field but the “Edit” screen does not.  As a reminder, for Jira Cloud Next-gen projects, there’s just one screen per project or per issue type and no distinction between the create, edit, and view operations.  

2. Use tabs to group similar fields

If there are many fields, use the “tabs” feature to group them. In the screenshot, all user picker fields are together in the “People” tab and all date and version fields are in the “Internal” tab.

Two Custom Tabs on a Screen

3. Collect additional information during the workflow

Determine when in the workflow other fields should be completed. For example, fields like “Assignee”, “Due date”, and “Original Estimate” should be filled before an issue reaches the “In Progress” status. Use a workflow transition screen, and validators, to require entry. If you’re using ProForma, you can create separate forms to collect information at different times in the workflow.

4. Order fields strategically

List fields in the order the user is likely to supply the information. Place more important fields at the top.

Always place the “Priority” field before a “Requested” date field.  It may help set realistic expectations to ask for the importance before the date.

5. Order fields consistently

Use a consistent field order for all issue types and projects. Users expect and appreciate a standard.

6. Only create fields that are reported on

Don’t show unnecessary fields, collect information you won’t use, or create custom fields that aren’t queried. Instead, use the standard “Description” and “Comment” fields and train users what information to provide.

7. Utilize best practices and standard web form conventions

When creating screens, be aware of the web and application standard conventions that users expect. Here are some tips for effective and useful web forms.

  • Don’t ask too many questions
    Only ask for information you’ll use.  For example, if you plan to respond to issues via email, only ask for an email address (not an email address, a phone number, and a mailing address.)  If you already have the reporter’s email address on file, don’t ask them to type it. Short web forms are more likely to be completed.  Users dislike providing many ways for you to contact (aka spam, annoy) them.
  • Ask specific questions
    Use field descriptions to ask the user for specific information or to provide formatting instructions.  Asking a specific question gives you better information than a blank or “Enter your message here” description.  Examples: “What software do you need installed?” or “What is the expected result of the defect?” 
  • If a field has validation requirements, tell the user exactly what to enter
    Give clear and easy to understand directions.  Don’t wait for a user to enter data incorrectly before providing them with formatting instructions.  For example, tell the user to enter their phone number in the format: ###-###-#### rather than provide the vague error “Please enter a valid phone number.
  • Confirm successful submissions
    After a user clicks the submit button, there should be a confirmation that the message was received or an error message if there were any problems. Jira handles this functionality by default.
  • Post and adhere to your privacy policy
    Any time you collect user information, you should have an easily accessible privacy statement that addresses what you collect, how you use it, and under what circumstances, if any, you disclose it.  If completing a form means you’ll add their email address to your newsletter system, for example, that needs to be clear.  This is important for public instances and when you use Jira for customer support.
  • Consider your audience
    As with everything web related, create forms with the end user and their specific goals in mind.  You may need separate forms for existing customers, new prospects, or different situations.  Don’t try to serve all users and all conditions with the same form.

Jira Service Desk

With Jira Service Desk, you have a different audience to consider.  In Jira, the create form should be as short as possible.  But in Jira Service Desk, it’s important to collect all the important details up front, to avoid multiple rounds of follow-up questions.  This is especially important when working with external customers in different time zones.

Use the Jira tips above and these additional tips for JSD.

1. Use “Introduction text” to provide portal instructions

Enter a custom message to help users understand support options and share additional help resources. The intro message is especially important when there are multiple Service Desk portals. Intro message space is available in addition to the temporary announcement banner. (Both are pictured below.) Visit Project Settings > Portal settings to enter introduction text.

Sample Portal Introduction Message

2. Use the “Description” field to help users select the correct form

Add a short description for each request form, so users can determine the best selection for their request.

Sample Form Description

Always provide a selection for “all other requests”. In the screenshot above, there’s a generic form titled “Get IT help.”

3. Use the “Help and instructions” field to set request expectations

Enter custom instructions for each request form so users know what information is needed and how long it usually takes to receive a response. In the screenshot below, the user can expect help within 2 hours for this type of support request.

Sample Request Message

4. Customize field labels and add field descriptions

In JSD you can customize a Jira field’s label. For example, I often change the default “Summary” label to the more descriptive “Summarize the problem.”

Similarly, you can also customize field descriptions. Use the Jira field description for Jira users and tailor language in the Portal to that audience.

Custom Field Labels and Descriptions

5. Group forms by request type

In my former role as a web developer, I always considered a user’s capacity for processing information. Too many form choices can overwhelm a user. If you have more than 5 request forms, use the JSD “groups” feature to categorize the list.

Five Sample Form Categories

6. Use unique form icons

Each request form has an icon. Make each unique and choose icons that visually communicate what each request form is for. If you can’t find the right icon, you can make your own. Atlassian recommends a 20px grid with 24px padding. Read more

Finally, and most importantly, make it easy, intuitive, and painless to complete Jira screens and Jira Service Desk request forms.  The process should be simple for all users.

OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES:

  • Why Form Design in Jira Matters  –  How you design your forms will impact the quality of data you receive, and much more!
  • Layout and Flow: Creating User-Friendly Forms in Jira – Form layout affects completion rates and user frustration. We’ll discuss the right way to do it.
  • Writing Good Form Questions in Jira: Part 1 – How do you choose the right words, field types and validation levels? This article will dig into the nitty gritty of creating good form questions. 
  • Writing Good Form Questions in Jira: Part 2 – Choice questions are great for collecting structured data. We’ll look at the options for choice questions and discuss ways to influence, or mitigated influence on the user.
  • Things to think about when converting forms in Jira – Bringing a process into Jira for the first time? Don’t just copy forms straight across. This is a chance to make improvements.
  • Efficient Jira Screens and Jira Service Desk Request Forms Jira screens and JSD request forms aren’t the same. Here’s how you can make each one work for its audience.
  • Tips for Creating good forms/screens in Jira – Learn how you can leverage Jira features like tabs, workflow transitions and icons to create better forms and screens.
  • Form Design Best Practices: What you can and can’t do in Jira – Now that we know what good form design means, we’ll hone in on which practices can be applied to Jira and Jira Service Desk
  • Use cases – We’ll also include a series of use cases illustrating how using forms expands what you can do in Jira.
  • Form audit – Finally, we’ll take a bad form and transform it to an awesome, user-friendly, data collecting machine.