Reducing Jira Custom Fields through Substitution

One of the principle advantages of using ProForma – the app that lets you create forms that embed in Jira issues – is that it allows teams to collect customized data without needing Jira custom fields.  In the previous article in our series on reducing custom fields, we discussed how to delete, hide and merge custom fields.  In this article, we’ll explore the fourth option – substituting a form field for a Jira custom field. 

When to Use

This is the solution that provides the best of both worlds.  You get to have the data without having the custom field.  That being said, there are some limitations you need to consider before implementing this solution.

Limited Search Capability

Currently, fields on ProForma forms are not searchable in Jira.  There are two ways you can work around this.  For fields that are frequently queried and reported on, you can link a form field to a Jira field.  This allows you to collect the data in one place and still have access via JQL queries and Jira reports.  However, this doesn’t help as far as reducing fields.

The other option is to download a spreadsheet of forms responses and search there.

We are working on creating functionality which will allow you to link multiple form fields to one Jira field (for instance, the description field). This will allow teams to collect and view the information in a structured manner, while still having the data available for searching in Jira.  We anticipate releasing this functionality in early 2019.

Conversion Process

The other thing to keep in mind is that the conversion process (described below) is not for wimps!  We recognize that it’s a bit labor intensive and we are working to develop an automated process.  (For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you triage incoming requests for new custom fields and use form fields in lieu of custom fields as much as possible.)

Preparing the People

Reassure users that they will still have the data.  If users are new to ProForma, you want to show them how ProForma is used on another project in order to reduce their concerns.  You’ll encounter less resistance if users understand that they’re not losing any data.

Second, knowing that the conversion is a bit involved, you should prepare your users to be patient.  You will also want to work closely with Project Admins – letting them do some of the tasks (such as building the forms) – especially if you’re substituting fields across multiple projects.

How to Do It

1. Build a form that includes the target fields.  Each field has the option of being linked to a Jira field.  Be sure to create a field for each custom field that you wish to eliminate.  For each of these fields, use the Link Jira Field option to link the form field to the existing Jira custom field.  Note that you may want to link other fields as well.  For instance, it’s very useful to have a “What’s the problem?” field link to the Jira summary field.

  • The form can include as many fields as needed (not just the fields that are being converted).  Create forms that will be useful for the team after the conversion process is complete.
  • You may be able to get a head start by modifying a form from the ProForma template library.
  • Organize fields into logical sections.  Add instructions.  Use ProForma features such as validation, conditional logic and field-level hints/descriptions to make your forms as user-friendly and useful as possible.

2. Once the form has been built, you will need to add the form to all of the relevant issues.  Depending on your situation, this could be every issue in the project, or only those issues that have data in the custom fields you’re converting.  Currently, add ProForma forms to issues has to be done manually.

3. Next you need to go through and open each form and check that the contents are correct.  The target form fields should contain the data from the custom fields.  Save and Submit the form on each issue.  Note that the data doesn’t get locked into ProForma until the form has been submitted.

The data from the custom field is now present on both the custom field and the form.  Be sure to click Submit to lock the data in the form.

4. Now return to the form builder and open the form.  Go to each of the form fields associated with a custom field you want to eliminate and unlink the Jira field. Remember to Save.

5. The populated form field is now independent of the Jira custom field.  To verify that you have completed the process, run a JQL query for  [custom field] NOT EMPTY.  Then download a form response spreadsheet and compare the results.

6. Once you’ve confirmed that the forms contain the custom field contents, you can delete the custom field following the directions here.

We recognize that this is a labor intensive process and we are working to develop an automated process for converting fields in large projects. Please contact ThinkTilt if you would like to be notified when that functionality is released.

**Note that the process described above is for traditional Jira projects (Business, Service Desk or Software).  ProForma is not yet fully functional with Next-gen projects.

Deleting, Hiding & Merging Jira Custom Fields

Congratulations!  You’ve audited your Jira custom fields and even decided on which methods you’ll use to reduce them.  So now it’s time to get started. In this article, we’ll provide the steps for three of the options:  deleting, hiding, and merging Jira custom fields.  For each option, we’ll not only look at the steps for execution, we’ll also discuss when you should use it and how you should prepare users for the change.

Let the pruning begin!

Deleting Jira Custom Fields

When to Use

Don’t do this lightly.  Deleting fields will also delete the data they hold and this act cannot be undone.  Therefore, this method is best reserved for fields that were created, but never used (a scenario that occurs more often than one might think), or in cases where the data has been moved to another field.

Preparing the People

Users will not react kindly to having something they feel they need removed.  So check first to see if anyone is using the field.  If they are, provided a substitute (we’ll discuss how to do this in the next post) or a work-around before deleting the field.  You’re a hero when you give users functionality, but a devil when you take it away.

How to Do It

  1. Select Jira settings > Issues
  2. Under Fields, select Custom Fields
  3. Find the custom field and click the gear icon
  4. Click Delete to remove the custom field and any information entered in the field from all issues.

Hiding Jira Custom Fields

When to Use

Although this method doesn’t truly reduce the number of custom fields in your instance, it does allow you to declutter your screens.  This is a good method to use for custom fields that were used in the past and contain data that you don’t want to use, but are not (or rarely) used now.

You can also hide fields as an intermediary step before deleting them.  Hide the field, wait a week or two to see if users miss it, and if not, then delete the field.

Preparing the People

Most of the time when you use this method it will be for fields that were important in the past, but are no longer in use.  Check with the Project Admins to confirm that this is the case.

Note that if you’re told, “Oh no, we need that field!” but suspect otherwise, you can query for [custom field] NOT EMPTY and then sort by last updated date to see how frequently and how recently the field has been used.

How to Do It

To hide a Jira custom field go to Project > Project Settings > Fields.  Find the custom field and click Screens.  Click Remove.

Merging Jira Custom Fields

When to Use

In the rush to create what we need, we often forget to check if it’s already there.  Your audit may reveal that multiple custom fields have been created which essentially do the same thing.  In this case, you should select the one best option (correct field type and most generic name) and merge the other fields into it.

Preparing the People

The key in this case is communication.  You simply need to let people know that the field they formerly used (XYZ Project Start Date) has now been renamed (Start Date).  You can use an announcement banner (available on the System admin menu) to communicate with all of your users.

How to Do It

  1. Add the new (correct) field to all relevant issue type(s).
  2. Run a query to return all of the Jira issues you wish to update (all issues in which have data in the old/incorrect field).
  3. Adjust the columns to show the summary, issue key, the old/incorrect custom field, and the new/correct custom field.
  4. Click Export Excel CSV (current fields).
  5. In your CSV file, remove any unnecessary columns, and everything but the header and data rows.  (The export may add extra rows of footer/header content).  This is also a good opportunity to “clean up” your data – fix misspellings, etc.
  6. Now go to the Jira Administration menu and select Jira Settings > System.
  7. Select External System Import (under the Import and Export heading) in the left hand navigation bar.
  8. Select CSV.
  9. Click on the Choose File button and browse to your CSV file.  Click Next.
  10. Select your project.  Note that you can also add an email suffix and adjust the date format on this screen.  Click Next.
  11. Map your fields including the issue key, summary and the relevant custom fields:
    1. Issue Key (CSV field) > Issue Key (Jira field)
    2. Summary (CSV field) > Summary (Jira field)
    3. Old/incorrect custom field (CSV field) > New/correct (Jira field)
  12. Click Next.  Jira will make the update and indicate the result.
  13. You can repeat your original search to see the data from the old/incorrect field is now populating the new/correct field.
  14. Follow the instructions above for deleting the old field.

Stay Tuned

The next article in this series will describe how you can substitute a ProForma form field for a Jira custom field.  It’s the perfect solution for times when teams need the data, but don’t need to query or report on it.

Time to Decide: What to do with all those Jira Custom Fields

In a previous article, Rachel Wright outlined a process for auditing Jira custom fields.  If you’ve completed this process, you now have an idea of all of the custom fields in your Jira instance.  Finding out what you have is an important first step.  Next you need to decide what to do with them.

If you haven’t already, log your information into a spreadsheet, a Confluence page or use the free Jira Custom Field Audit worksheet.  At a minimum, you will want to collect the following information:

  • Name – The name of the Jira custom field
  • Type – Knowing the field type can be useful in determining if the field can be merged
  • Description – What the field is for
  • Created by – Was the field created by Jira, by a person or by a plugin/app?
  • Used by – Who is or has used this field?  Which Jira projects?
  • Currently in use – Is anyone using the field now?

I found all my custom fields.  Now what do I do with them?

Follow the recommendations Rachel describes, or try the SQL queries provided by Atlassian.  Once you’ve filled in the above information, you need to take the next step – engaging with Project Admins, business owners and other users to find out if and how the fields is being used, and to determine if another solution might work just as well or better.  Ask questions such as:

  • How do you use the data in this field?
  • Do you query the field? (You can verify this by checking to see if the fields is included in any filters.)
  • Do you report on the field?
  • Does anyone remember how you handled this data point before you had the custom field?

As you talk to business owners, users and project admins, it’s important to be clear that your aim is not to take needed functionality away from them. There are many ways to reduce custom fields without losing current functionality.  After you’ve completed your research and your conversations with business owners, you can recommend one of the following options for each custom field:

  • Keep it
  • Merge it with another Jira custom field
  • Substitute it with a field on ProForma form
  • Aggregate it with other data into one field
  • Retire it
  • Delete it

We’ll discuss how to do each of those things in a future article.  For now focus on deciding what the future of each of your custom fields should be.

When to Use Each Option

Keep it
Don’t change a thing.  The field is necessary just as it is.

Merge it with another Jira custom field
Your Jira instance may have accumulated multiple custom fields that are essentially the same (for instance, multiple sets of start and end dates). These can be safely merged together into one field that has a generic name.

Substitute it with a field on ProForma form
Many data points are needed in order to handle a request (service desk projects), or track information that is important, but rarely queried or reported on.  You can still collect specific, structured information without custom fields, by collecting the data on a form.

Aggregate it with other data into one field
Aggregating is another good option for data that is collected for purpose of providing a service, background info, etc., but that is only occasionally queried or reported on.  This involves collecting the data on a structured form, then storing the data from multiple form fields in one Jira field.

Hide it
You can hide custom fields that were used in the past, but are no longer necessary.  This allows you to preserve the data while decluttering your screens.

Delete it
Delete fields that are not being used and that do not contain any data that needs to be preserved.  It’s recommended that you not delete custom fields that were created by Jira (and in many cases Jira won’t let you).

Add a Recommendation column to your spreadsheet and log the selected option for each field.  You now have a plan for each of your custom fields. Watch for the next article in this series, where will discuss exactly how to apply the above options.

How to Audit Your Jira Custom Fields

How many custom fields do you have?  For most of us the answer is: too many!  With research and diligence, you can clean up your duplicate and unused custom fields and get your count down to a manageable number.

The first step in any clean up process an audit.  You need to understand what fields your application has and how much that differs from the default Jira set up.  Use the free Jira Clean Instance worksheet to compare your application to a default installation.  Use this to get a count of all your standard and custom fields.

There are a few ways to approach your audit.  You can do a manual examination, use an add-on from the Atlassian Marketplace, or use a combination of both.  For helpful add-ons, check out:  Cleaner for Jira, Custom Fields Usage for Jira (Server only), and Admin Tools for Jira (Server only).  Jira Data Center users can leverage the built-in Custom Fields Optimizer.

While these plugins can help tremendously with your research, only a human can determine the value of a specific custom field for your organization.

Examination

Next, make a list of all field names and types for examination.  Copy the all the fields on your Custom Fields admin page and paste them into Excel or Confluence.  Use the free Jira Custom Field Audit worksheet to enter your data, collect your research findings, and total the fields to remove.  Now that you have the list, start researching and classifying each field

First, flag the fields created by Jira.  These fields are likely needed, locked and can’t be removed.  Don’t spend time researching these.

Second, flag the fields created by an add-on or plugin.  When plugins are deactivated or uninstalled, their custom fields remain.  You’ll need to determine if data in those fields needs to be retained.

Finally, flag all the fields created by admins.  These will require the most research.

Research

It’s time to find out everything you can about each add-on or admin created custom field.  Start by determining which plugin created which field and add this information to your spreadsheet.  Look for clues in the following places:

  • Jira’s application audit log,
  • the add-on audit log,
  • the field’s description on the “Manage add-ons” admin page,
  • login as an end user, use the add-on, and see which fields are displayed,
  • or check the plugin’s documentation.

Next, research the remaining admin created fields.  Are there duplicates, misspellings, or poor naming choices?  Are any fields associated with unused projects?  How is each field used today?

Determine the scope of each field’s use by looking in the following places:

  • the Custom Fields admin page,
  • on screens,
  • in workflow behaviors (conditions, validators, and post functions),
  • and in user JQL queries.

TIP:  For each field, do a JQL query and note how many issue were found, how many issues are in unused projects, and the business value of the data returned.  Just because data is returned doesn’t mean it’s still useful!

Finally, check how many users have saved queries using the custom field.  If you have Jira Server or Data Center, and read-only access to the Jira database, you can get this information from the “reqcontent” column in the “searchrequest” table.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve uncovered some unneeded fields, it’s time to take action!  We’ll cover the clean up process in an additional article in this custom fields series.

Take the Jira Custom Fields & Clean Up Course!

Learn how custom fields work, how to determine when a new custom field is warranted, and how to clean up custom fields added by application admins and add-ons.
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Battling Jira Custom Field Bloat, Step by Step

“I have over 3,000 custom fields and everyone says I need to talk to you.”

That was one of the comments we heard at Atlassian Summit.  It’s true. ProForma is a great way to have all of the custom data, without the custom fields.  ProForma forms embed in Jira issues, allowing you to include all of the fields you need, without cluttering your Jira instance or degrading Jira’s performance.

We think simplified Jira administration, particularly with regard to custom fields, is one of the key benefits of using ProForma, and something we’ve discussed in previous articles:

However, talking to Jira Administrators at Summit made us realize that we’ve neglected a big part of the problem.  You don’t just need a way to limit the addition of new custom fields, you need a way to deal with the ones you already have.  So we’ll be focusing our upcoming content on how to deal with custom field bloat.  Once again, we’ll be teaming up with author and Jira super-user, Rachel Wright.  Rachel worked with us on a previous series of articles, which is now available as the Effective Jira Administration book. We’re looking forward to tapping into her expertise on managing Jira custom fields.  

ProForma Forms & Custom Fields for Jira

Cleaning up Jira Custom Field Bloat

Regardless of whether you’re using Cloud, Server or Data Center, our series will offer step by step guidance for:

  • Auditing
    Find out exactly what custom fields you have, what project(s) they’re in and if/how they are used.
  • Triage
    The next step will be to categorize your custom fields.  You’ll sort out how the custom fields were created (by an admin, an add-on, etc.), whether or not they’re duplicates, if they contain errors, and how they are used.  We’ll outline the process for sorting your custom fields into ones that stay, ones that go, and ones that get converted. 
  • Conversion
    Next, we’ll outline a process for converting needed fields to ProForma, for merging duplicate fields, fixing errors and for retiring fields that are no longer needed.
  • Documentation
    Finally, we’ll make sure that you’re left with an easily accessible map that will show which custom fields remain and which were converted to fields on ProForma forms.  Having this information at your finger tips will make it easier to respond to requests for new custom fields. 

The goal is that by the end of the process, your teams will still be able to collect all the data they need, but you’ll have your custom fields down to a manageable number.  (You get to decide what that number is.)

Next-gen Projects

For those of you using Jira Cloud, we’ll also discuss strategies for how to manage custom fields (and Jira administration in general) now that any user can create independent projects.  (If this makes you nervous, you’re not alone.)  We’ll focus on communication strategies and ways to educate users about best practices in Jira, with the aim of being “open”, without opening up a huge can of worms for Jira administrators.

Effective Jira Administration

ThinkTilt and Rachel Wright, author of the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, proudly announce our newest collaboration “Effective Jira Administration“.  This 64 page book helps you bring the benefits of Jira to more teams in your organization.  We’ve assembled our best advice and included the topics:

  • Who’s in charge?  Jira Governance for Business Teams
  • Who Does What in Jira?  System, Application & Project Admins
  • Creating & Managing a Jira Support Project
  • Four Jira Workflows for Business Teams
  • Best Practices for Creating a Custom Workflow
  • Jira Custom Fields and Their Alternatives
  • 4 Ways Adding Forms to Issues Amps Up the Power of Jira
  • Keeping Track of it All: Jira for Asset Management Managing a Jira Upgrade
  • Managing a Jira Upgrade
  • Vetting Jira Apps and Plugins
  • Jira Clean-up Time

Even if your team isn’t technical, you can still use high tech tools. Email, spreadsheets, and shared network drives – be gone! Your team has a real issue tracking database now with Jira.

Users Create Jira Projects. A Good Idea?

Atlassian just announced a new feature for Jira Cloud users:  anyone can create a project, issue type or custom field.  No need to engage the admin team!  When I heard this at the Summit user conference, I cringed at the thought of cleaning up the new messes that end users will inevitably create.  I’ve spent many years fixing poor decisions made by application admins and now end users, with even less knowledge and application management experience, are unleashed on the config?  Yikes!  A fellow conference attendee sitting near me exclaimed “but I just got our application cleaned up” and let out a large sigh.  Atlassian also announced the 2,000 Cloud user limit is upped to 5,000 users.  Now even more people can create a bigger mess!

President Jay Simons: Open & Fluid

A theme throughout the conference was “open.”  It means being open in your communication, your intentions, open to new ideas, and more.  I enjoyed that talk and I took it seriously.  So, I’ve challenged myself to reject my original pessimism, embrace this change, and find the good in it.  I spoke with a Jira Software representative at Summit but initially that didn’t ease my fears.  It wasn’t until I tried out the new project creation feature that I calmed down, the fear subsided, and I saw the potential.  I can appreciate Atlassian trying to simplify a complex process and free up time for busy application administrators.  This also aligns with the concept of added workflow and screen editing abilities introduced in Jira Server versions 7.3 and 7.4.  And yes, I was scared of those changes at first too.  But guess what?  The world did not explode and I didn’t have to fix too many botched workflows.  😉

Good to Know

“Create independent projects” Global Permission

These new project abilities are configurable.  It’s a global permission, so you can decide which groups receive the power.  You don’t have to use the default “Anyone” setting.

Projects created with this method are structured totally different from previously created projects.  These projects are independent entities that don’t impact or share schemes with the other types of projects.  I know what you’re thinking:  sharing schemes is “the way” to easier maintenance!  It will be interesting to learn how best to manage projects built in two very different ways.

Quick Tests

I created a project of this new type, created a new issue type, and a created a new custom field.  Since these objects are decoupled from global settings, there’s nothing I’ll actually have to clean up later at the application level.  For example, there’s no new entry on the Admin > Issues > Custom Fields page.  I wonder how these objects are stored?  Since this is Cloud, I can’t access the database to see.

The new issue type creation wizard prevents you from creating an issue type that already exists, which is great news.  See screenshot.  But, it can’t prevent other “human caused” problems, like dupes (think “Bug” vs. “Defect” in the same project), plurals, and misspellings.

Duplicate Issue Types

As a test, I created a new issue type and called it “Epics” (with an “s”.)  Now the test project has both “Epic” (which has the special association behavior you expect), and “Epics” which is simply a standard issue type.  It’s not pretty but luckily this unfortunate action is constrained to the project where the issue type was created.  All users will see both options in the JQL search however.

Poor “Date” Type Choice

I also created a custom field with the new fields designer feature.  I created a field called “Date” and selected the type as “Text” instead of “Date” like it should be.  It’s a common mistake and end users are bound to make it.  In the screenshot, you can see my lovely new field on the right and its purposefully ridiculous value.  Again, since this unfortunate decision is constrained to the project, maybe it’s not too much of a problem.  This team won’t be able to properly sort or query data in this field, but it’s not the end of the world.

One Observation

This leads me to my only real gripe.  Atlassian also announced a project archival feature (yay!), but it’s only for the Data Center version of Jira.  I think the Cloud version needs this feature now more than ever!

What happens when all your users create their own personal projects for every little item on their “to do” list?  How does an application admin clean those up when they aren’t needed or when the creator leaves the company?  What happens when you visit the “all projects” list and there are 500 more entries than there were yesterday?  How does a user know which “Marketing” project to file their issue in, now that there are 5 to choose from?  I’m not sure there’s a good way (yet?) to manage these scenarios.  A bulk clean up tool is really needed.

Also, my Cloud instance is very small, yet very slow.  I know performance is improving and is a priority.  But I worry that adding all these extra elements (even the cool new stuff) could slow it down even more.

Being Open

After my very brief look into the new features, I’m willing to be open.  Change is hard but I’m choosing to embrace it.  New concepts and features certainly deserve a fair shot.  It will be interesting to see what, if any, issues arise and how application admins can best address them.

What do you think?  Are you open to this change?  What are some pros, cons, scenarios, and considerations?  Post your opinions in the comments field below.

Learn more about these features in this post or watch the Summit keynote starting at 1:02:50.

9 Tips for Getting Action in Jira

A Jira issue was created, but its been a week and you’ve heard nothing.  The issue hasn’t been updated and you can’t tell if anyone’s seen the issue, triaged it, started work, or done “something” to get it addressed in the near future.  Does this sound familiar?

When issues stagnate, it may be because the needed expectations haven’t been set.  Leadership needs to make sure overall Jira engagement and Project Leads need to play a large role in triaging and managing issues in their individual projects.  Here are 9 tips for setting the right expectations and getting users to take action in Jira.

1. All work is logged in Jira

  • It is hard to track initiatives, capacity, and resource allocation when work is stored in multiple systems.  Strive to decommission old systems and banish low tech tracking methods like spreadsheets and Post-it notes.  You need “one source of truth” for everything teams are working on.
  • In meetings, emails, and chats about tasks, encourage users to provide the Jira issue ID for the item they are discussing.  Repeat the phrases “Which Jira issue are we talking about?” and “If it’s not in Jira, it’s not real!” it becomes reality.

2. Users login to check their issues at least once a day

  • A tool is just a tool.  It takes human action and engagement to make it work in your organization.  If users aren’t regularly logging in, they are missing what is going on around them.
  • Make sure users are proactively logging into Jira to review issues created and assigned to them.  Waiting around for Jira to send email notifications is reactive.  Jira info in email quickly becomes out of date.  Email should be treated as supplemental information and never be the primary engagement method.

3. The “Assignee” takes action

  • Each issue has an assignee.  The name in that field is the person who needs to take action.  If the name is incorrect or reads “Unassigned”, it’s easy to reassign the issue to the correct person.
  • Other users should feel empowered to update or correct issue data, even if they are not the current assignee.

4. The “Reporter” is ultimately responsible for the issue

  • You cannot create an issue and walk away, expecting the issue to champion and remedy itself.  The “Reporter” is responsible for the issue from conception to completion.  If the reporter is no longer the responsible party, it’s easy to update the issue to the correct person.  And don’t worry – Jira keeps a record the original creator in a separate field.

5. Share the assignment strategy

  • There are many ways issues get assigned in Jira.  Each project has a default assignee setting.  The default assignee can either be the Project Lead, or it can have a value of “Unassigned.”  The former is typically used when the team lead will triage issues and assign them to the correct team member.  The latter is sometimes used when the whole team is expected to review the issues and assign the ones they can work on to themselves.
  • Additionally, there’s a third assignment strategy, using Components.  Each Component can have its own lead and issues can automatically be assigned to that person.  For example, James does all the contract work for the Legal team.  When an issue is created in the LEGAL project, any issues where the “Contracts & Agreements” component is selected will be automatically assigned to James.
  • Finally, avoid the trap of assigning issues to a generic Jira user, like a user named “Legal Team”.  It’s often true that if an issue is assigned to everyone, it’s assigned to no one.  How are issues assigned in each project in your organization?  Make sure users know so they know how to act.

6. Utilize issue views

  • Jira provides many ways to users to see issues.  All users should know how to login and go straight to the Default System Dashboard.  This serves as a good starting place to see recent activity and issues assigned.  The Jira administration team can further customize the default dashboard to add elements to make it even more useful.
  • Users can also create their own custom filters, filter subscriptions, dashboards, and boards.  Encourage each team or department to have a dashboard or board they share and monitor regularly.  Users can bookmark or “favorite” these locations to make them easy to return to.

7. Use statuses, backlogs, versioning, and dates

  • Statuses, backlogs, versions, and dates all communicate when an issue will be addressed.  Each issue’s status must reflect reality.  Users need to transition issues forward in the workflow as they work them.  Completed issues must reach the “Closed”, “Done” or similar final status.
  • Every Jira project should have a backlog – a place to put issues not addressed immediately.  If a team member finishes work early, encourage them to review the backlog, to see if an issue can be accommodated earlier in the schedule.
  • If an issue is not in the backlog, it means it is being actively worked.  Development teams should utilize the “version” functionality to assign issues to a specific release target.  Non dev teams can also leverage versions.  Example:  A Marketing team has a version called “Q1” representing all the work targeted for January through March.
  • Used a custom field (Example: Requested Date) to collect the issue’s proposed completion date.  Use the “Due Date” field to indicate when an issue will actually be completed or released.
  1. 8. Tag users, share issues, and add watchers
  • To get a user’s attention, tag them in an issue’s “Description” or “Comments” field.  Use the “@” symbol to mention a specific user.  They will get an email about the mention.
  • Need to alert someone to an issue?  Use the “Share” button at the top right to send them an email.
  • Add yourself or a colleague to the issue email update notifications by making them a “Watcher” of any issue.
  • Again, emails are often lost, delayed, or out of date by the time they are read.   Users should always login to Jira for real-time information.

9. Check progress in team meetings, standups, and scrums

  • The key to success is communication.  Each team meeting should include a discussion of what’s being worked now and what’s being worked next.    Launch Jira in your meeting and review the issues on the team dashboard.  Take the time to discuss any unassigned issues in your Jira project and regularly groom your backlog.
  • Team leads need to regularly monitor their Jira project and follow up on stagnant issues.

The key to Jira success is engagement, setting expectations, and regularly monitoring issues.  All users should feel empowered, be proactive, update issues, correct information, and contribute to the health of the application and its data.

What are your tips?  Share them in the “Comments” section below.

Bringing FY2018 to a Successful Resolution in Jira

Everything must come to an end.  One could say that FY2018 is about to reach its resolution.  (I’ll let you decide if want to mark it off as Fixed, Won’t Fix or simply Done.)  The end of the year is a traditional time for stock-taking as we prepare for a fresh new start.  You can apply that to your Jira application as well.

Cleaning Up Your Jira Application

Use the end of the year as an opportunity to check for and clean out stagnant Jira assets.  Sometimes projects get abandoned instead of being properly closed out.  This can happen when the organization’s priorities change or when teams reorganize.  Sometimes an initiative that was tracked in Jira is completed and teams who are anxious to carry the momentum into the next project may forget to close out the previous one.

In the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, Rachel Wright offers several ways to hunt down stagnant Jira projects.  You can use the Project Status worksheet, available in the ProForma template library, to comb through your projects and identify ones which should be archived. 

While you’re doing the high level assessment and clean up, you can encourage Project Leads to take a look at their active projects and see if any clean up needs to be done there. Rachel recommends checking for things such as:

  • Accurate and useful components (and component Leads)
  • Unreleased versions
  • Stagnant issues (haven’t been updated in x days)
  • Unassigned issues
  • A neglected backlog
  • An accurate listing of team members

This is also an opportunity to see if any adjustments (big or small) should be made to make the system more helpful.  Are the filters, boards and dashboards useful?  Could they be more useful if you made a few minor changes?  Does the project configuration still fit the team’s needs?  Are there any customizations that the team would like to have?  Any painful processes that could be eased with the addition of the right app/plugin? Now is a good time to take a look.

What You and Jira Accomplished this Year

Year end is also an opportunity to compile and analyze a few statistics on how Jira is used within your organization.  In fact, regular and thorough documentation will not only demonstrate how important Jira (and therefore the Jira support team) is to your organization, it will help you predict future needs. In addition to an Annual Report form,  Rachel has also created a Jira Use and Future Predictions worksheet which will help you document Jira usage over time.

Expanding Jira to Business Teams

While you’re making those predictions, consider whether Jira could benefit more teams in your organization.  Many companies use Jira or Jira Service Desk not only for software or IT support, but also to manage HR, finance and facilities related processes.

Expanding Jira to other business teams doesn’t have to be an administrative nightmare.  The simple addition of forms, available through the ProForma app, means that teams can customize their processes and collect exactly the data they need without requiring new issue types, hordes of custom fields, or special configurations.  You can actually simplify Jira administration even as you’re bringing more teams into Jira.

Jira Strategy Admin Workbook Kindle Edition

The Jira Strategy Admin Workbook is available in Kindle format!  Now you can set up, clean up, and maintain Jira on the bus or on the beach!  No need to carry a heavy, 296 page, textbook around.

Get the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook in three formats:

Already have the Print?  Add Kindle or Digital for $2.99!

The book is part of Amazon’s MatchBook program.  Purchase the print version (sold and fulfilled by amazon.com) and get the Kindle version for only $2.99.

Steps to Redeem:

  1. Login to your Amazon.com account
  2. Visit the MatchBook page
  3. Scroll down to “Your Kindle MatchBook titles” as shown below
  4. Click the “Get Kindle Edition” button

No Kindle device?  Add the digital version for $2.99.

Steps to Redeem:

Email a photo of you and the book to:  info@jirastrategy.com.  Bonus points for photo creativity!  We’ll email you a code to discount the digital version to $2.99.