Can I assign skills to users or only to stages?

We are in a pilot to make a purchasing decision for JIRA and JIRA Portfolio. We currently maintain a Competency Matrix Excel spreadsheet of 116 IT skills we use to work on the projects we complete. We list each IT person and check off all of the Skills they are able to perform. When I read that JIRA Portfolio was able to find project bottlenecks, in party by using Skills, I envisioned I was going to be able to input our Competency Matrix data once and be done with telling Portfolio what each person's Skills are. I envisioned when I entered a needed Skill for a project, that I would see people who have that Skill to select from and assign to the project/stage. When I started setting up my first project I found this isn't so. I need to tell Portfolio what each person's Skills are every time I put them on a project. I will need to look up this info in the spreadsheet for every task in every project? 

Am I seeing this correctly or am I missing something? If this functionality doesn't exist, is it on Atlassian's road map or are there no plans to go in that direction? Are there best practices for a work around? 

My opinion is becoming that JIRA Portfolio can't be used by waterfall IT projects well. 

Thank you, 


2 answers

1 vote

Hi Valerie, I'm not 100% sure I understand all aspects of the problem correctly, but here is a first attempt to answer smile - the way skills work within JIRA Portfolio is as follows: 

  • you define the skills (in the stages & skills configuration), and the default allocation of how an estimate for a work item breaks down, i.e., which portion of each skill does it require, unless specified more specifically for the work item 
  • you assign the skills to the team members in the people section to specify who can do what (
  • you enter estimates either as a total estimate for a work item (epic or story), in this case the % allocation defined in step 1 is used to determine which skills are required, or you enter estimates for each of the skills that are required for the work item (which will likely be only a subset of all skills
  • Based on the available and required skills, upon Recalculate of the schedule, team members are automatically suggested for each work item, so ideally you don't need to manually figure out who should do what. 
  • You can overwrite the suggested team member assignments, in this case all team members are listed to be selected, if the chosen members don't have all the required skills to complete the work item, upon recalculate the work item will be highlighted in red.

(Video 6 - plan with time based estimates might help a bit here as well:

What is not happening right now is that the selection list of team members is automatically adjusted to list only those members that have the skills for the particular work item as in the design we assumed rather small team sizes and to rely rather on the automatic suggestions for member assignments for a higher-level capacity plan. We don't have anything for this on our roadmap, but you could raise a suggestion ticket via 

Not sure if this answers all your concerns, Portfolio has been designed certainly rather with agile planning in mind, with small teams and not too high complexity in terms of number of different skills etc., but we've seen good use also in more traditional environments

Thanks, Martin (PM for JIRA Portfolio)

Hi @Martin Suntinger - my impression is that the current JPO design assumes

  1. all teams cover more or less the same set of skills (or, in reverse: there are few or no skills which any team does NOT have)  ... just like in your Atlassian Sample Dataset)
  2. when assigning a backlog item to a team,  item-level (general) estimates are split into the default-percentages of ALL skills in the plan, irrespective of the team's available skills. 

For my current setting, teams are very heterogeneous in terms of skills (both within as well as across stages).  As a result, a "ballpark" planning (for items further down the line) is really difficult, because either you have to enter fine-grained skill mappings, or you regularly face errors because the skill mappings don't resolve for the assigned team. 

Is this something you've heard before?  Are there any workarounds or best practices you recommend?  Are there any plans to make the skill assignments more flexible (e.g. defaults percentages per-team? or a change in logic whereby an "stage/item-level" estimate in combination with an assigned team only assumes the team's available skills in the scheduling algo) ?




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