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Jira - Support in Projects or a Specialist's Liability?

Jira - Support in Projects - COMARCH

In today's business reality, having a team of skilled specialists is no longer a guarantee of success. What's more crucial is to employ the team's skills effectively, delegating tasks and managing work hours so as not to waste the potential of employees. What challenges arise while working on complex projects, and how can Jira assist?

What is Jira?

Jira is a comprehensive project management tool. The software was released by the Japanese company Atlassian in 2002. Jira is predominantly used for IT project support, though it's also apt for other sectors. How does it work?

It provides a full suite of tools for project handling: aiding in planning, monitoring, and management, as well as tracking progress and generating reports. Jira also supports integration with external messengers and automated notification dispatch, significantly enhancing team communication. It includes project boards like Kanban and Scrum, which simplify process transparency. If needed, Jira can be tailored to a particular company or organisation's requirements.

Why is team management so vital?

Just because each specialist is an expert in their field doesn't mean they'll collectively achieve set objectives. A Project Manager or Team Leader typically ensures the team operates smoothly.

Their primary role involves ensuring duty distribution aligns with expertise and the workforce's capacity. This involves, first and foremost, ensuring the distribution of responsibilities adapted to the competences and capacity of the specialists. It's essential to prevent scenarios where experts lack assigned tasks and to monitor set deadlines. With optimal management, a team can meet its goals timely, ensuring no member is overburdened.

What are team management challenges?

Organising work around intricate, multifaceted tasks is the foremost challenge. Such tasks often comprise numerous subtasks, each to be completed in a specific order.

It's also important to maintain clear and effective communication within and between teams. Communication is effective only when paired with process transparency.

If everything functions as it should, specialists understand task distribution, challenges encountered, and their resolutions. They understand how responsibilities were divided, what problems were encountered in the process and how they were resolved. They also know how to build on what has already been worked out. It is worth ensuring that each of the specialists from the team and from other teams know how the workflow is going and are aware of their role in the task.

How can Jira assist in addressing these challenges?

Jira has several features aiding process management. One is the capability to create epics, essentially grouping tasks. This tool aids in organising multi-threaded tasks, allowing a large task's division into smaller, more detailed ones. Each can then be assigned to a specific specialist with a predefined role in the project.

This tool also allows for task linkage, making everyone in the team aware of their roles and dependencies. Often, a task can't be executed without completing a related task first. It can be, for example, the correction of an error or the provision of specific content.

Linking tasks lets Project Managers pre-emptively identify project milestones and pinpoint high-priority tasks. Jira facilitates task priority management and allows steering specialists' work to relieve them when needed for vital tasks.

A significant collaboration aspect is the collective tracking of tasks and projects. Jira enables regular task status updates, ensuring each team member stays updated.

Automated communication and reporting within the team

One Jira function enhancing smooth team communication is its integration ability with external messengers like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Jira also enables notification automation and provides notification configuration, allowing users to keep abreast of various tasks.

Comments and notes within tasks are beneficial. Jira allows adding comments to tasks, epics, and bug reports, enabling any user working on a task to be informed of its progress.

Maintaining Process Transparency

In terms of process transparency, it's worth noting that Jira integrates tools for creating personalised Kanban and Scrum boards, simplifying the tracking of a project's status.

Jira also features advanced reporting functions, helping Project Managers identify issues and optimise processes. Another significant advantage of Jira is its ability to track change history. As changes are logged, specialists can revert to prior project versions at any point.

Cons and Challenges of Using Jira Daily

While Jira enables clear and multi-threaded management, it's not without flaws. Some of Jira's downsides include complex configurations, high usage costs, and unsuitability for certain project types.

Complex Configuration and New Employee Onboarding

Jira's myriad advanced options make its implementation and configuration time-consuming and intricate. The functions offered by Jira are extremely extensive, and the accumulation of functions can cause difficulties in implementing new employees. Thus, reaching a level where users can exploit Jira's full potential necessitates investment in training.

High Usage Costs

For both large teams or companies employing many people and small businesses, Jira can be a pricey solution. Expanding Jira licenses might be essential with increasing project scopes, incurring substantial financial outlays. Jira's high usage costs also encompass IT infrastructure requirements. The self-managed Jira model requires suitable IT support, and assembling it might entail additional expenses, comprising not just equipment but also hiring maintenance staff.

Time-Consuming Project Management

While detailed progress reporting is valuable, the complexity of procedures can also be a drawback. In certain cases, merely reporting progress and managing changes in Jira becomes demanding and time-consuming, detracting from task execution time.

Unsuitability for Some Project Types

Jira is primarily associated with IT and software development projects. This translates to it being unsuited for other types of projects, such as creative ones. In this context, a drawback of Jira is that it does not allow for the uploading of large files, with a maximum size limit of 10MB.

How to Address Jira's Limitations – Personalisation Opportunities

The negative impact of many previously mentioned limitations can be mitigated through appropriate customisation of processes. Jira offers users the ability to customise the workflow, display options, notification delivery, and to utilise advanced search functions.

Workflow Customisation

Working in Jira is based on a specific workflow, which includes stages such as "to do", "in progress", and "done". Different task types, however, have varying requirements, hence Jira provides the option to program the entire workflow to cater to the needs of a particular task type. In this way, upon starting a task, you can assign it a specific workflow. This is essential, as even within the same company, different workflow variants may be suitable for development tasks and others for creative tasks.

Display of Content and Notification Delivery

Another feature that can be customised is the dashboard. Jira's dashboard can be personalised to display only the information crucial for a particular team, for instance, sprint progress, facilitating inter-team cooperation.

It's also important to configure the delivery of notifications appropriately. By default, Jira sends them whenever changes occur in the project, keeping the team informed in real-time. While essential, this can be cumbersome from an employee's perspective. Thus, notification delivery to specific users can be adjusted to ensure they aren't overwhelmed with irrelevant information.

Advanced Search Functions

Furthermore, Jira offers advanced search capabilities. These are made possible through a keyword search engine based on JQL, or Jira Query Language. This allows for tasks to be found not only by their title or number but also by phrases within their descriptions.

Does Jira Justify the Effort?

Despite its various limitations, it can be confidently asserted that Jira is an effective team management tool and can be valuable for Project Managers, especially when used correctly. The ability to personalise numerous functions, enabling them to be tailored to the requirements of a specific project, is particularly noteworthy.

A prolonged implementation period and a vast array of functions might seem daunting. However, any new tool initially causes disorientation and necessitates implementation efforts. To maximise Jira's potential in overseeing projects and facilitating team communication, it's worth making the necessary effort, conducting appropriate team training, and incorporating best practices in its u

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