Stupid JIRA Tricks

May 11, 2017

Making project management easier, one stupid trick at a time.

Jira Tricks


At L4 Digital, we use JIRA extensively for tracking project work, managing customer feedback requests, and tracking bugs. We use JIRA agile boards to create, manage, and track Scrum sprints, and create queries for triaging new bugs.

JIRA is a powerful and flexible tool, and can be difficult to master. Most tasks in JIRA are fairly straightforward, but sometimes as project managers we need to do something non-obvious.

These are a couple of time-saving tricks I’ve picked up while managing and tracking large, complex projects. Hopefully they’ll save you some time too.

Focusing Attention with Quick Filters

I run daily Scrum stand-ups with my teams, some of whom work remotely either some days or all the time. To facilitate quick and efficient stand-ups, I pull up the team’s agile board and share it via Google Hangouts with the remote team members.

At any given time, we might have 40 or more tickets flowing across the board in an active sprint, spread across 10+ people. This can make it pretty daunting to scan the agile board for the relevant cards during our stand-ups.

JIRA board lanes To make it easy to focus on each person’s tickets as he or she is reporting their status for the day, we created a Quick Filter for each team member. When it’s that person’s turn to give a status, I click their filter, and the board hides all the other tickets.

Filtered Board

How to Set Up Quick Filters
  1. On your agile board, click the Board button in the upper-right corner, then choose the Configure command.
  2. In the sidebar on the left, click Quick Filters to open the Quick Filters page.
  3. At the top there are three fields:
  • Name: The filter name that will appear at the top of your board
  • JQL: The query that will be applied when you enable the filter
  • Description: The tool-tip text shown when you mouse-over the filter
  • Type a Name (probably the first name of a team member).
  • For JQL, type a filter for assignee, which matches the team member.

For example, say Max is a developer on your team, and his JIRA username is “maxs”.

Your query would be:  assignee = maxs

If your system uses email addresses for JIRA user names, you will need to enclose them in quotes (not smart-quotes), for example:

assignee = “maxs@example.com”

Tip: You can also make Quick Filters for other things, like high-priority tickets, only bugs vs. tasks or stories, only issues which were reactivated, etc. Get creative – Quick Filters are powerful, easy, and you can make as many as you need.

Use Swimlanes

Some teams prefer to see all the tickets on the board together in columns like the screenshot above. But you may find that it works better for you, especially on smaller teams, if you configure your board to use “Swimlanes” per assignee instead.

How to Set Up Swimlanes
  1. On your agile board, click the Board button in the upper-right corner, then choose the Configure command. 
  2. In the sidebar on the left, click Swimlanes to open the Swimlanes page. 
  3. For the Base Swimlanes on drop-down, choose Assignees.

Tip: Set your Swimlanes so that unassigned issues show at the top of the board, so they aren’t missed. This reminds and encourages the team to discuss tickets that are in the sprint, which aren’t claimed yet.

Tip: When viewing your board with Swimlanes enabled, the ‘-’ key will expand or collapse all the lanes. Use this in your stand-up meetings to show only tickets from the person who’s turn it is to give status.

Advanced Swimlanes

Swimlanes in JIRA agile boards can be based on almost anything you can think of. They can be Stories with their sub-tasks, Epics, or arbitrary queries.

If you make your Swimlanes follow queries, each lane gets its own name, and a query you write exactly the same way you configure a Quick Filter.

Inspiration

JIRA is a dauntingly flexible tool. If you can think of something you want to do, there’s probably a way to make it happen. If not, it’s quite likely there’s a plug-in that does what you need. As I hinted at above there are lots of creative ways to use JIRA’s agile boards in various contexts – to facilitate meetings, to focus on planning and grooming, to report on delivery, or to identify workflow issues.

I have a long-time habit of bending the tools I’m using to make them fit the specific needs of the team, the project, or the situation. I encourage you to play around with JIRA’s less obvious features, and get creative about how you use it.

You might be surprised to find that you can save yourself and your team a lot of time, and have fun doing it.

 

Jake Savin

Jake Savin is a Senior Technical Project Manager, Architect at L4 Digital and has over two decades of experience spanning mobile, desktop, web, and back-end software development and program management.

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