Atlassian, like a lot of fast moving software companies, has cross-functional teams located all over the world spanning multiple timezones. On any given day from our Austin office, I may be interacting with teams based out of Sydney, San Francisco, or Amsterdam; in a distributed environment, tools for solid teamwork are essential. Even for geographically concentrated teams, email updates and spreadsheets simply don't cut it as an organized way to keep colleagues informed.
JIRA Software is a project tracking tool that tackles these very challenges. Below, I'll run through some features that your team can start using immediately to make collaborating easier than ever.
Boards are where collaboration begins. At the most fundamental level, the JIRA board is an at-a-glance, visual representation of all of your team's work, whether it's coming around the bend or in flight. We'll start by discussing the first component of boards: the backlog.
Imagine that your team just had a robust planning session for your next two week cycle; instead of verbally delegating tasks during the team meeting and hoping that everyone remembers what they're responsible for, with JIRA Software, you'd simply create issues in your team's backlog. There you can see a swath of information for any deliverable, ranging from assignee to issue description.
Once your work commences, you can toggle to your sprint or kanban board to see what is actively being worked on and where it stands. This is home base for your team so that everyone can stay appraised of what is being executed, where it's at in its life cycle, and who to contact if you have questions. Imagine the time you save never having to send out a single email, update a spreadsheet, or conduct a status meeting!
Let's move away from the bird's eye view of project work that boards provide. Easy and effective teamwork is also necessary at the individual task level. Too often, you may be in the midst of your work and have to break up your flow in order to inform a key stakeholder that their attention is needed on a recent development. Using JIRA mentions, you can keep your teammates in the know without ever having to send a single email.
Say that a conversation with a teammate about JIRA best practices inspires me to create a task for myself in my team's backlog. In my issue description, I'll be sure to call out my colleague so she'll receive a single email notifying her that I've filed a ticket regarding our discussion and that she doesn't need to file a ticket, too. Easy!
Now, say that after I've completed my work, I want to notify that same coworker that I need her to review its content. Rather than reassign the ticket to her for a quick review, I'll just shout her out in the issue comments so she can give it a once over, while also having full context into the issue's progress history. Then, after that, she'll probably mention me to let me know I'm all set to close out my work.
Note: Issue comments are also a great place to simply provide status updates, note blockers or hurdles, request help, etc. No need to wait until you're about to close out an issue to get others involved!
Out-of-box, an issue's reporter and assignee will receive email notifications regarding its life cycle: all field changes, reassignments, comments, etc. That way, you're always in the know about any work you've created or worked on.
That said, perhaps you are neither the assignee nor the reporter on an issue; you are just a key stakeholder or perhaps a curious third party. Instead of having to remember to manually check on an issue's progress, you can choose to add yourself to an issue as a "watcher." You'll find a link to do so under the "People" section of an issue edit screen.
Once you start watching an issue, by default, watchers will receive the same alerts that an assignee or a reporter sees, allowing you to chime in, stay informed, or offer a second opinion. That said, a word to the wise: set yourself as a watcher wisely lest you get bombarded with email updates every time you refresh your inbox!
You can take advantage of all of the aforementioned features even when starting a brand new JIRA Software instance with no upfront setup. However, if you want to dive a little deeper or cater your settings more to your liking, feel free to peruse the links below that'll tackle some of the above subjects in greater depth.
Matthew WongAtlassian Team
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