Choosing the right Jira project type

Jira has multiple application types and each is built for a specific audience and use. The types are: Jira Work Management (JWM) in Cloud, Jira Software (JSW), Jira Service Management (JSM) and Jira Product Discovery (JPD) in Cloud. All types have the same look and feel but different features. The applications can be used separately or together. For example, your organization might use Jira Work Management and Jira Software but not Jira Service Management.

Additionally, each Jira application type contains different project types. Each has special features not available in other project types. Here are the major differences and how to select the best project type for your team’s needs.

Project Types in Jira Cloud

Jira Work Management

Jira Work Management contains all the main Jira features like projects, issues, workflows, and users. You can think of it as providing the core functions of Jira. In fact, it was previously named “Jira Core”. Atlassian added some new and interesting features before renaming it in April 2021. This application type has business projects, templates, and features.

This project type is best for teams like marketing, finance, legal, sales, human resources, and more. Its commonly used for managing projects, processes, and tasks.

Jira Work Management is only available in Cloud and there are two plans: free and standard. Jira Work Management is included with every Jira Cloud license. In Jira Server, the application is still called Jira Core. In Jira Data Center, there’s no such application.

Business Project Features

Business projects in Jira Cloud have some additional views that aren’t available in other project types. The features noted below are fairly new and will continue to be improved over time.


The list feature displays parent and child issues in a expandable list format. It’s similar to the format presented after searching or viewing filter results but there’s no JQL query to construct. Instead, all issues in the project are displayed and there’s an easy menu to filter issues by assignee, component, issue type, labels, priority, reporter, and status. You can also filter by issues “due this week”. This feature is a quick and easy way to view issues in a project without needing any query skills.

The best part of this view is that parent issues can be expanded or collapsed to show or hide child issues. This hierarchy capability is highly desired but missing in other areas of Jira. In the example screenshot, the task PMO-1 is expanded to show it has four sub-tasks.

List view in a Jira Cloud business project

Good to Know

The epic issue type does not display as part of the hierarchy in list view. I suspect that this is because epics are a software project concept, not a business project concept. Jira Cloud has many business templates, but none of them include the epic issue type by default. I manually added it to the sample project in the screenshot above because I like how epics help categorize work. To see an expandable view of epics and parent issues (but not child issues) use the roadmap feature in a software-type project.


Jira Issues Calendar

Until now, the only way to view issues in calendar format was by adding the “Jira Issues Calendar” macro to a dashboard. The functionality is basic. Issues are displayed based on a Jira project (or JQL filter) and a single date field. The total number of issues associated with a specific day are summed.

In the screenshot, there’s one issue due on October 27 and one due on October 30. The colored boxes represent different workflow statuses. In Jira, hover over the colored boxes to see issue details or click the box to view individual issue details. Fix versions can also be displayed. Finally, you can also export the data to iCal format.

The new calendar view in Jira Cloud business projects is not part of a dashboard and includes some useful additions. The display accommodates start and end dates, assuming you utilize the standard Jira “start date” and “due date” fields. This view also shows the issue type, key, summary, and assignee. The filtering capabilities work the same as described in the “list” view.

Calendar view in Jira Cloud business projects

Again, notice that parent and child issues are displayed but not epics.


The timeline view is similar to the roadmap view in a software-type project. This display includes a Gantt-type chart where issues duration is represented by colored bars. Start dates, end dates, and assignees are displayed. Dependencies are created using the standard linked issues feature and indicated using curved red lines. (Not pictured.) The same filtering abilities in the other views are present as well.

Timeline view in Jira Cloud business projects


The final new feature for business projects in Jira Cloud is forms. Use a form to collect additional information without adding new Jira issue types or custom fields. Currently, you can create one simple form per Jira business project. The form has a unique URL that can be shared with any licensed Jira user. A Jira issue is automatically created after any form submission.

Read more

License Differences

Jira Work Management users are not able to use agile or software development features in software projects or support features in service management projects. Access to business projects is available to all types of licensed Jira users. Read more

JWM user license is less expensive than a JSW user license. When choosing between application and project types, it’s important to compare pricing, project access, and feature differences.

See Atlassian’s JWM product page and the table on the pricing page for additional feature information.

Jira Software

The next application type is Jira Software. This type is designed for development teams. Although any software development methodology is supported (including Agile, waterfall, or even no methodology or framework) this project type caters to teams using Scrum or Kanban.

Jira Software is available in Cloud, Server, and Data Center. In Cloud, there are four plans: free, standard, premium, and enterprise.

Software Project Features

Jira Software includes the following additional development-specific features:

  • Project templates for Scrum, Kanban, and bug tracking
  • Scrum boards for teams that plan in chunks of work called “sprints”
  • Kanban boards, for teams with less structured delivery schedules
  • Sprints to manage iterations or scheduled work
  • Sprint capacity planning (in Jira Cloud Premium and Enterprise) to avoid over or under resource utilization
  • Story points for relative effort estimation (time-based estimation is also available)
  • Backlog functionality to help teams prioritize future work
  • Release tracking functionality to manage deployments
  • Fix versions to schedule work and affected versions to manage code changes
  • Release tracks (in Jira Cloud Premium and Enterprise) to manage when and how software changes are released
  • Roadmaps to view work in a Gantt-type format
  • Additional built-in reports to track burndown and burnup, velocity, epics, releases, and more
  • Integration with code and deployment tools like Bamboo, Bitbucket, and Opsgenie
  • And more

License Differences

Only Jira Software users can leverage development specific features.

See Atlassian’s JSW product page and the table on the pricing page for additional feature information.

Learn more about the software development life cycle (SDLC) and using Atlassian applications to plan, develop, test, and release software with my Planning and Releasing Software with Jira course.

Jira Service Management

The final application type helps support teams of all types manage their requests.  Atlassian created JSM in 2013 after noticing that 40% of customers had adapted Jira to handle service requests.

JSM is for tracking changes to systems, processes, or applications, resolving incidents and problems like an outage or security breach, fulfilling service requests like a password reset, new hardware, or issuing a mobile device, managing approvals of all kinds, and helping internal or external customers with whatever they need.

Business teams can take advantage of JSM features too. For example,
the HR team can collect benefits questions and reimbursement requests, the facilities team can receive requests for new desks and chairs, and the legal team can process contract review requests.

Sometimes teams have more than one project like a service-type project to support their “customers” and another business-type project to manage all their internal “to do” items. For example, the finance team can have a service project that every employee has access to. This project is used to collect employee reimbursement and purchase requests. They can also have a business project that only finance team members have access to. This project is used for tracking team tasks like maintaining reports and adding new employees to the payroll system.

As always, keep the long term health of the application in mind by not creating more Jira projects, settings, and schemes than you truly need.

JSM is available in Cloud, Server, and Data Center. In Cloud, there are four plans: free, standard, premium, and enterprise. Jira Service Management was previously called Jira Service Desk.

Service Project Features

While you can certainly use other Jira application types for support, Jira Service Management takes support to the next level.

JSM includes the following additional support-specific features:

  • Project templates for ITSM, customer service, and other support type teams (in Jira Cloud)
  • Dedicated queues to organize and categorize requests (in addition to standard JQL filtering capabilities)
  • Request categories for segmenting service requests, changes, problems, and incidents (found in the Jira Cloud “IT service management” project template)
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to define goals and measure metrics like response or completion time
  • A simple customer portal (aka “help center”) featuring a streamlined interface and slightly customizable display
  • Integration with Confluence as a self-service knowledge base
  • Asset and configuration management (in Jira Cloud Premium and Enterprise)
  • Built-in reports for tracking agent workload, customer feedback, and requests deflected by self-help articles
  • Better support for creating issues via email (and from non Jira users)
  • An embeddable widget (in JSM Cloud) to create issues from other web pages or applications
  • Customizable notifications for customers
  • Permission schemes allowing customer access
  • A simple customer survey to collect customer feedback (CSAT)
  • Integration with monitoring, alert, and notification tools like
  • The ability to automatically create issues in software projects from events in service projects without impacting automation rule execution limits
  • And more

License Differences

The licensing model is different in this application type. Jira Service Management has two additional types of users: agents and customers.

An agent is anyone providing support, managing the support team, or monitoring support team effectiveness. The agent is the technician who solves a problem or provides the requested help. An agent does all their work in Jira and requires a JSM license to use service features.

customer is anyone who requests support. Customers can include internal users, external users, employees, vendors, contractors, and anyone else who needs help. These users file support requests and view progress in a simplified interface called the customer portal or help center. Customers generally don’t access the area of Jira that agents use to fulfill requests.

See Atlassian’s JSM product page and the table on the pricing page for additional feature information.

Learn more about JSM users, features, and configuring support projects with my Jira Service Management: Administration course.

Product Discovery

There’s also a newer project type is called Product Discovery and it’s intended for product managers. This application helps product and pipeline owners collect ideas, assess and prioritize them, and track them through delivery.

This type is great for product teams managing strategic company priorities, a portfolio, or a product catalog. It has special features for tracking goals, roadmap management, and insights from customer relationship management applications.

Learn more about this new type at:

How to Choose a Project Type

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when selecting a Jira application type and project type. While it’s easy to switch between Jira project types in Server and Data Center, it’s a more involved process in Cloud.

Potential reasons to choose a business project type:

  • Easier to use and navigate for less technical Jira users
  • Cheaper user license fees
  • All issue types can leverage the same workflow
  • The new list, calendar, and timeline views are easy to use and don’t require JQL
  • The forms feature is an interesting addition
  • The timeline feature provides a sufficient visual view

Potential reasons to choose a software project:

  • The primary users write, release, and deploy code, and/or use development tools like Bamboo or Bitbucket
  • Backlog, sprint, and/or Scrum board functionality is needed to prioritize and schedule work
  • Epics are used to categorize work
  • Multiple workflows are needed to manage different processes
    • Example: A bug’s workflow includes a verification step, a change request’s workflow includes an approval step, a task’s workflow includes neither.
  • Software users can access both software and business projects
  • The roadmaps feature is preferred over the timeline feature
  • There’s a desire to track metrics like burndown, burnup, and velocity

Potential reasons to choose a service management project:

  • The primary users provide service and support for products or applications, to other teams, or to internal or external customers
  • Requestors don’t have Jira licenses
  • Requestors are less technical users
  • There are deadlines (SLAs) to meet for specific requestors or certain types of requests
  • The team uses monitoring, alert, or ChatOps tools
    • Note: Other project types can integrate with Slack and Microsoft teams as well

Can you think of other reasons to choose a specific project type? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Related Articles

For related information on the different types of Jira and changes over the years, please see:

Giving the Go-Ahead: Approvals in Jira Service Management

Jira Service Management (JSM) includes a variety of features beyond what is available in Jira Software or Jira Work Management. One of the most powerful features is the ability to require an approval on any request. You can even require that a request be approved before an issue shows up in the service team’s queue. 

Approvals are useful for traditional ITSM processes – think of change management – but are also one of the key features that makes JSM a great solution for non-tech teams. Consider how many HR or Finance processes need to be approved before they can be carried out. Understanding (and being able to demonstrate) how approvals work helps promote Jira adoption by other service teams across the organization.

In my Jira Service Management: Administration course, you’ll learn all about how to set up approval. You’ll learn:

  • What types of requests typically require an approval
  • How approval requirements impact your Jira workflow
  • How to control who can approve a request
  • How to set up multiple layers of approvals
  • Licensing requirements for approvers in Jira
  • How to notify approvers that there is a request they need to act on
  • What happens to requests that don’t get approved
JSM issues and requests have multiple approval states

And who are these “approvers” anyway? We’ll also look at the various ways to define who can approve a request (by request type, change advisory board (CAB) membership, user input etc.)

Adding approval to a JSM workflow

After examining scenarios that typically require an approval, we’ll go through the set up process step by step – from adding the appropriate transitions to your workflow, to customizing your approver notification email message. Then we’ll dig into some of the more advanced features – like forcing an approval or allowing agents to cancel the request. Finally, we’ll use JQL to search for requests that are pending an approval.

The course is designed with precise explanations and real world examples. I also include quizzes and challenges (with solutions) that you can try in your own Jira application to cement your learning. Once you understand how approvals work in Jira, you’ll have a firm foundation for implementing JSM for any service team in your organization.

Take the course on LinkedIn now. Access to my courses and others is included with your Premium subscription.

Rachel Wright’s Jira and Confluence
Admin and User Courses on LinkedIn

New Course in JSM Administration

Jira Service Management: Administration Course

It’s always been true that nothing wins hearts and minds like good service. Providing good service is more important now than ever before. Customers expect support to be fast, accurate and easy to access. Service teams are required to develop efficient ways to serve internal and external customers, regardless of location. Many teams are now looking to Jira Service Management (JSM) as a solution.

My new Jira Service Management: Administration course will help you understand the unique features that JSM adds to Jira, how JSM can be used for ITSM processes, and how JSM differs between Jira Cloud and Jira Server/Data Center deployments. Most importantly, the class will show how you can configure and administer JSM to provide the best possible service to your customers. 

Jira Service Management: Administration course

Whether you’re completely new to Jira, or an experienced project or application administrator, you’ll be able to configure JSM so customers can create requests, support agents can provide the help needed, and leadership can measure effectiveness.

What You’ll Learn in Jira Service Management: Administration

  • The difference between an issue and a request
  • How to use the features of the customer portal
  • How to configure an effective, user-friendly request screen
  • Additional user types specific to JSM
  • Ways that service project workflows differ from other workflows
  • How to set up approvals
  • ITSM issue types in JSM
  • Configuring SLAs to measure service team performance
  • How to organize service queues
  • How to reduce request tickets with a Confluence knowledge base
  • Ways to reduce work with automation
  • How to use JSM reports and measure customer satisfaction

As always, the course will include in-depth explanations, demonstrations, challenges to build/configure in your own JSM instance and quizzes to help you remember what you’ve learned.

Whether your focused on empowering your IT service team, or wanting to expand JSM to other teams in your organization (JSM is great for HR, Legal, and Facilities teams), this course will show you how to leverage JSM’s features so teams can provide exceptional service and support.

Take the course

“Considering application health, the user experience, and finding a balance between them is the difference between a good administrator and a great one.”

Rachel Wright

Rachel Wright’s Jira and Confluence
Admin and User Courses on LinkedIn

New Course – Jira Service Management: Administration

Jira Service Management: Administration Course

My new Jira Service Management: Administration course is now available! Take the course on LinkedIn now. Access to my courses and others is included with your Premium subscription!

About the Course

Jira Service Management (JSM) is built on Jira and extends it so your organization can effectively manage incidents, problems, changes, and service requests.  Jira Service Management takes support to the next level with queues, SLAs, a simple interface for your customers, and integration with Confluence as a knowledgebase.

In this course, you’ll learn how to set up and administer Jira Service Management so customers can create requests, support agents can provide the help users need, and leadership can measure effectiveness.

In this administration course, you’ll learn:

  • How JSM extends Jira with support-specific features
  • The additional types of users and responsibilities
  • Using JSM for incident management, change management, problems, service requests, and support
  • How to configure request types, permissions, and notifications
  • How to configure the customer portal and connect to a Confluence knowledgebase for self-service
  • How to create, manage, and troubleshoot service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Using automation to reduce manual work and repetitive tasks
  • How to leverage reporting to gauge effectiveness and measure customer satisfaction

Take the course

“Considering application health, the user experience, and finding a balance between them is the difference between a good administrator and a great one.”

Rachel Wright

Rachel Wright’s Jira and Confluence
Admin and User Courses on LinkedIn

Project Administration Links in Jira Software and Jira Service Management

If you have Jira Software and Jira Service Management, how do you know which project admin links are for Jira project settings and which are for service management features?

While both Jira Software and Jira Service Management settings work together to power support projects, it’s helpful to know which links are for which application type so you can consult the correct documentation and information.

Here’s a handy list and and some differences between links in the Cloud and Server deployment types.

Project Admin Area

To get to a project’s admin area click the “Project settings” link in any Service Management project. It’s at the bottom of a project’s left sidebar. In Jira Server, the link takes the admin to the “Request types” page by default. In Cloud, the link takes the admin to the “Details” page by default.

Service project admin in Server

In Server, the first set of sidebar settings are common to all Jira projects. Those links include: Summary, Details, Re-index project, and Delete project.

Further down the page are settings specific to Jira Service Management (JSM) projects. The first link in the section is labeled “Request types”.

The additional links below are for standard Jira project settings like issue types, workflows, screens, and more. You might also have additional links for managing third-party app settings.

Service project admin in Cloud

In Cloud, the Jira and JSM settings are ordered differently.  For example, the second section shows the Jira issue types and the JSM request types together.

Settings List

Here’s a handy list of the typical sidebar links and which application type they belong to.

Jira Software

The following settings are used by software-type projects:

  • Summary
  • Details
  • People (Cloud only)
  • Re-index project (Server only)
  • Delete project
  • Issue types
  • Workflows
  • Screens
  • Fields
  • Priorities
  • Versions
  • Components
  • Users and roles (Server only)
  • Permissions
  • Issue Security
  • Notifications
  • Project links
  • Development tools
  • Issue collectors

Jira Service Management

The following settings are used by service-type projects:

  • Change Management (Cloud only)
  • Request types
  • Customer permissions
  • Language support
  • Portal settings
  • Email requests
  • Customer notifications
  • Widget (Cloud only)
  • Satisfaction settings
  • Knowledge base
  • SLAs
  • Calendars
  • Automation
  • Apps (Cloud only)
  • Incident management (Server only)

Need help using or configuring Jira Software or Jira Service Management settings? Take my LinkedIn Learning courses to understand capabilities and best practices.

Rachel Wright’s Jira and Confluence
Admin and User Courses on LinkedIn
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