My name is Nataliia Peterheria and for more than 3 years I’ve been working as a Project Manager in projects of all levels of complexity. Agile and technology rule the world so by combining them we create complex digital products that are easy to use. Jira is a perfect tool for building products using Agile methodologies. And here, I share my experience of using Jira for managing working process, show how to use it for better communication with the development team, and reveal tips on how to get the most out of it.
Agile, Scrum, Kanban... you might have already heard these names, and even used them in your work. A bunch of these fancy words aim to describe and implement the one thing every product owner strives for in the development process: effective control, predictability, transparency, and results. To achieve this goal, you put in time and effort for planning, tracking, evaluation and communication with the team. A lot of time and effort. But what if you could spend this time refining project strategy instead of explaining to your team the task you assigned them a week ago?
This material was born after numerous totally different projects which had one thing in common – a business team that spoke with engineers using business language and vice versa.
While effective communication is crucial for the project’s success, it is necessary to use the team collaboration tools that would help all sides of the process to find the common language. That is why I insist on the use of Jira in every project and it is much easier if everyone in the project knows how to use it.
This info will be useful for everyone in business who starts a project and will work on it with a team of engineers: founders, entrepreneurs, product owners, and other non-technical professionals with little to no experience in using Jira.
Jira is widely used in the industry, and there are two tribes of users – those who love it, and those who hate it. The only difference between them is that the former know how to use it. We’ve been among them for more than ten years and are ready to share our experience. After reading this material, you’ll know the secret as well and, probably, you’ll fall in love with Jira and how it can help you with effective planning, transparent tracking and accurate estimation.
Why Everybody Uses Jira, and 8 Reasons to Do the Same
If you’re still wondering why you should spend some time getting familiar with Jira, let us describe the advantages you’ll get with it and a few reasons why the tool is so worthwhile.
What is Jira?
Jira is a tool that helps to organize the software development process, and make it transparent and convenient in all aspects. Jira helps not only to plan and organize the work of the development team of any size that can be located whenever in the world and in whichever time zone. It also provides better control over its work and makes predictions on the future performance.
That seems good, right? But why is it so important for you to learn how to use it effectively? From our decade-long experience, we’ve concluded the following.
Jira is the standard management tool in the IT industry. This means that if you plan on working with a development team, you have to learn how to use Jira.
There is just no other way to manage team collaboration. To be clear, there are other tools, but Jira is so widespread and commonly recognized that it is now the clear industry leader. Like Harry Potter, who had been “just Harry” until he was chosen as the special one, Jira was just a management tool (though, a very convenient one) promoted by the industry to first place. Nowadays, Jira is used to manage the vast majority of projects, and most developers use it by default.
8 Reasons to Start the “Jira Journey”
We’ve already described what Jira is, so now it’s time for the “why”. First, with Jira’s help, you will be able to manage, control and forecast the time for the future development of your product within predefined scope.
These are the major functions of the software, and later we’ll talk about how to get as much as you can out of it. However, there are a few hidden advantages to operating Jira. First, tasks set in familiar format will be more understandable for software development engineers. How does that work?
Accept the fact that engineers’ thinking patterns are different from those on the business side. You, as a Product Owner, will have to learn how to speak “tech” to be on the same page with engineers at every point in the development process.
Technically minded people think in table format. So, if you start structuring information this way you will greatly reduce miscommunication and inspire creativity, which is the second hidden advantage. Jira has a lot of opportunities for that, unlike chats or e-mails, which are more common in business communication. If your requirements are well-structured and clear, developers won’t have to spend extra time to translate them into an understandable form. Instead, they can direct their efforts to the real work: finding a concise, clear, and appropriate solution. Developers should be aware of the business domain, but they often aren’t aware of its tiny specific realities.
Just remember that sometimes what’s clear to the business side and the Product Owner is not at all obvious to the engineers. They are, if we may say, of another nationality. For example, let’s move for a while into the London Underground, or “The Tube,” as Londoners call it. If you’re from New York and take the subway in London, you may be confused by a not-so-clear rule: you can’t exit the station without tapping your Oyster card. If you were in New York, you would never think of “tapping out” to exit; in London, it is a must. It’s apparent for a Londoner, but a New Yorker needs to be told he or she must do it. When it comes to business and engineering, things are pretty much the same way.
Now let’s get back to the major reasons why you should try Jira and what it can offer you.
The Advantages Jira Provides to the Product Owner
Simple delivery for product features on time.
Jira allows you to easily plan the scope of each sprint, control the process, proactively answer team’s requests, and solve issues. These help you stick to initial time estimates and deliver features on time.
Minimization of the PO’s role as bottleneck.
Usually, the Product Owner is the person in charge who informs the team about the business-side decisions and priorities. And the complete flow may be interrupted if a PO hasn’t had the time to inform the team. Jira takes this burden off the PO’s shoulders and, thus, provides a better process flow.
Guarantee of the process transparency.
Jira records each action around each task, so you can see who does what to each issue.
Stability and accuracy of the performance.
Jira is self-learning. Based on the team’s performance in the current project, it can forecast their performance in the next one. Thus, the speed of the teamwork is stable and predictable, which makes estimates significantly more accurate.
Clear prioritization of tasks.
You can prioritize tasks, from the most important to the least important. Thus, the team will understand priorities. If two tasks collide in priority, Jira will know which one is more important.
Confidence that the process goes right.
Jira allows following the execution of the tasks by registering each action made to them. It notifies the person if some actions are required from the one. You can see what problems the team faces in the development process and proactively respond to requests from them.
Visible budget distribution.
Jira generates reports on each sprint, so you can tell how much actual performance correlates with the estimates. Also, in Jira, the team logs all the time spent on their tasks, so it’s easy to see which actions the budget was spent on.
Reduce the PO’s overload.
The last, but perhaps the most important reason. The Product Owner, who is responsible for planning and the end-product vision, can have a quick and a very detailed view of all the issues rather than replying to endless chats with the team about the progress on all the tasks.
In short, being an industry standard, Jira is a must-know for everyone who works on a project with a development team. It significantly simplifies the process organization and saves a lot of time that can be spent on strategy planning instead of controlling the process flow. Jira will make it for you and much more above it. If you’re about to start a new project, you never worked with the development team, or you have but want to improve your Jira skills, you’ll find this guide useful. If will show you how to use Jira to achieve the best results, what effective tools are hidden there and how to use them.
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This Jira Guide for Product Owners is originally posted on Django Stars blog.