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We're using Jira, and I need help figuring out how to make it work for me

We're using Jira, but I'm struggling to get it to do what I need for task management. I understand Epics, Stories, Tasks and even Sub-Tasks at a basic level, but I'm confounded by how to make these things all work together for me.

In general, I need the following:

  • The ability to indicate dependencies. For example, if Task B cannot be started until Task A is completed.
  • The ability to see the issues (stories, tasks, subtasks) that are available for me to work on. Using the example from the previous bullet--if Task B cannot be worked on until Task A is done--then don't show me Task B until Task A is done, or at least visually show me that Task B depends on Task A
  • A view that pulls together all of the work I need to do--whether sub-tasks, tasks, or stories. For instance, sub-tasks don't show up in the backlog, which I don't understand at all. 

My ultimate goals is to have some kind of view, dashboard, whatever, that pulls together all of the work that's assigned to me, allows me to sort (by whatever--rank, priority, due date) and helps me see what is actually available, meaning not blocked and not waiting for a  predecessor. 

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

As a quick note--we are using the server version at the moment, but migrating the Jira Cloud (if it matters) over the weekend.

1 answer

Hi @Jonathan Perkins 

Welcome to the Community.

Inherently, Jira is quite open source - you can create a structure, and visualise the data, how it best works for you!

I've made some recommendations below, related to Jira Cloud, given you are migrating here.

 


Dependencies

I would recommend using linked issues - see some information on those here.

Linked issues create sibling relationships between issues. You need to decide what link types are required for your work.

Standard link types include...

  • Blocks - blocks/is blocked by
  • Duplicate - duplicates/is duplicated by
  • Relates To - relates to/relates to

You need to decide if your instance requires additional link types - for example, do you need "causes/is caused by" for linking Bugs? Or perhaps "addresses/is addressed by" for fixing Bugs, Risks, etc?

 


Visualising Blockers

From a setup perspective, I would be cautious about hiding issues which are blocked - but you can highlight that they are. This ensures that the impact of a blocked issue isn't hidden from view - which can help drive its urgency.

I would recommend using a JQL query to locate blocked issues - for example...

issueLinkType = "is blocked by"

And, to locate issues which block others...

issueLinkType = "blocks"

You could then use this JQL to highlight or limit the view of issues on your Board, by adding these as quick filters! See more on quick filters on this help page.

---

You could take this a step further, by highlighting blocked issues, or those which block others, using Flags on your Board.

You can add Flags by right-clicking on an issue on your board, and selecting the appropriate setting. When this is done, your issue will turn yellow, and have a flag added - clearly highlight that it is either blocked, or blocks others.

If you want to take this even further - you could use Automation in Jira Cloud (see help page here) to add/remove the flag automatically as well! Let me know if this sounds of interest and you need more help with it

 


Visualising the Work

You have several options here - for example:

  • Boards: Good for a day-to-day view of your work
  • Dashboards: Good for showing your personal view of data - issues assigned to you, blocked issues (as a filter), etc
  • Advanced Roadmaps: If you have Jira Premium in Cloud, this can be a good way of showing a hierarchical view of your data - and how dependencies impact your overall deliverables

You will need to ensure you set these up though how you want them. For Boards, I'd ensure you check...

  • Board Filters/Sub-Filters: Ensure all projects, issue types, statuses, etc are correctly labelled in your search filter. For example, if you need to exclude a certain issue type, limit it from here.
  • Board Settings: Use the settings to configure your best view of the data. For example, quick filters to help limit the views of your data, or swimlanes so you can create categorisation on the board view. See more information on Board settings here.

---

For Sub-tasks - in Cloud, these will show up on a Kanban Board's Backlog, but not on a Scrum Board.

Sub-tasks are different to other issue types, they're intrinsically linked to their parent (for example, they cannot be in a different Sprint or Team to their parent issue).

 


Let us know your thoughts, and if you have any further questions :)

Ste

Thanks very much for this--I will take a look next week when we're in the cloud environment. 

Let us know how you get on :)

Ste

Like Jonathan Perkins likes this

I'm finally getting back to this and I have a more fundamental question.

You mentioned Boards, Dashboards, and Roadmaps. One of the issues I'm facing is that the kinds of visualizations I'm inquiring about are not in demand--they're just for me. In our pre-cloud Jira instance, I created a few different kanban boards with different queries. Useful for me, but unbeknownst to me they were visible to everybody and cluttering up Jira, from everyone else's perspective. What can I do in Jira that will be available to me, without showing up for everyone else in my project?

Thanks!

One more key question, this time to do with scheduling.

In my area, I'd like to use Jira as my primary task-management tool. That means I need to arrange work by day, as opposed to only by sprint. That way, once I've done what I can on a story or task for the day, I can move it to the next day (or another day in the future when I want to follow up on it). 

Unlike a software developer, who may have a few stories in a given sprint, I might have 30 stories and an ever-changing list of tasks/subtasks. Having everything in one big "sprint" bucket is a cluttered mess that's really hard to navigate, and to keep track of what's waiting for someone else, etc.

This would require some visual representation of of days, so I an only imagine the roadmap as a place where this could be visualized. Any thoughts on that possibility would really be appreciated.

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