Definition

Jira

Contributor(s): Kate Brush; Matthew Haughn

Jira is an application lifecycle management (ALM) tool from Atlassian that provides different packages to suit various customer needs. It is used for bug tracking, issue tracking and project management.

Jira is one of the company's main offerings along with Confluence, the company's team collaboration platform. Atlassian is an Australian enterprise software company that specializes in developing products for software developers, project managers and content management. Jira and Confluence are the company's two most popular products.

Jira is a flexible issue tracking tool that helps teams plan, manage and report on their work. Users of the tool will vary based on which package is being employed. For example, the Jira Software package is often used by software developers and engineers, Jira Core is popular among business and marketing teams and Jira Service Desk can be used by employees and customers. The flexible and scalable configuration of Jira also allows it to support a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing and information technology (IT).

Jira packages

The Jira packages facilitate work throughout the enterprise, especially in Agile environments. Atlassian offers three Jira packages to users: Jira Core, Jira Software and Jira Service Desk.

Jira Core is primarily used for business management. As a result, it is most frequently employed by business, marketing, finance, human resources (HR), legal and operations teams. Uses of Jira Core include:

  • task management;
  • general business project tracking and process management through workflows;
  • project and task progress reports through a dashboard; and
  • overall task tracking and reporting.

Jira Software is mostly used for project and issue tracking. Users of this package include technical managers, software developers and engineers, product owners, DevOps teams, Scrum Masters and testing and quality assurance teams. The uses of Jira Software include:

  • Software development
  • Agile reporting
  • Virtual Scrum and Kanban boards
  • Dashboard reports on issues, sprints and release progress
  • Issue assignment
  • Backlog planning

Jira Service Desk is used for customer service and as an IT service desk. The primary users of this package are called Helpdesk Agents -- the people who work on tickets and communicate with the customers. Within Jira Service Desk, agents can access the agent interface and customer portal; add, delete and edit comments on issues, both customer-facing and private; control content within a connected knowledge base; and access queues, service-level agreement (SLA) goals, reports and customer lists. Other users of Jira Service Desk include Helpdesk supervisors, self-help users, employees and customers. Overall uses of the package include:

  • Incident and problem management
  • Tracking metrics such as SLA
  • Helpdesk management
  • A customer self-service portal that is managed with the knowledge base
  • Change management

A fourth offering, Jira Align, focuses specifically on Agile software development. This service allows users to connect their business strategy to the technical execution process.

Jira Align is frequently used by project managers and release train engineers (RTEs), portfolio managers, transformation teams, product managers, executives and delivery teams. Uses include:

  • the optimization of customer value by connecting strategic investments with customer value to reliably accelerate outcomes;
  • collection of team-level data to provide real-time visibility across the entire enterprise; and
  • the alignment of each team to a single strategy in order to determine the scope of the project, dependencies of each team and to create a roadmap.

What Jira is used for

Jira is most commonly used for application lifecycle management, test management and project management. Specific tasks frequently include bug and issue tracking as well as the creation of user stories. A user story is a tool used in Agile software development to capture a description of a software feature from an end-user perspective. This creates a requirements management tool that can then be used to generate tasks.

In an Agile environment, user stories are often handwritten or printed on sticky notes or index cards and attached to a Scrum board. Jira enables its users to digitally record user stories and prioritize them, often using due dates or the MoSCoW criteria -- standing for the breakdown of must, should, could and would like to have. From here, the user story can be assigned to team members, given an estimated timeframe, tagged to a specific component level feature and assigned to a sprint that is required for the implementation of the story.

Despite Jira's initial focus on issue and project tracking, it is also becoming popular among teams responsible for test case management. This presents the advantage of allowing testing and development to remain in one system. QTest was developed as a Jira test management tool that is integrated at both the requirements and defects levels. The tool allows users to work faster and plan, track and test their work more efficiently. The qTest tool easily collaborates with custom issue types within Jira -- such as user stories and tasks -- to provide coverage for test cases. Users of qTest can also find real-time reports of their test run execution history and Jira issue coverage. Furthermore, qTest also lets users map test projects to various Jira projects, further increasing efficiency.

Teams using Jira can be assigned multiple existing workflows. For new projects or user stories, teams create new workflows by assembling the project's goals and established practices. The software helps underpin the tasks of each team by gathering user inputs, which drive the changes for new versions, facilitating the fast and regular release of new versions.

Jira incorporates an open REST API which allows users to integrate the tools into a wide range of systems. Users can choose to either create their own connector between Jira and the system or use one of the connectors that is provided by the Atlassian Marketplace -- a platform where Atlassian customers can distribute and sell their created apps to other Atlassian product users. Jira is commonly integrated with Salesforce, GitHub and GitLab, Microsoft Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Team Services, Perforce and ServiceNow.

Furthermore, the Atlassian suite of services can be integrated across each product. This allows data to pass from one Atlassian application to another. For example, issues can be created in Jira using Confluence and Confluence can be used to view Jira reports and dashboards.

Benefits

Benefits of Jira include:

  • Cost-effective -- A Jira license is frequently half the cost of similar services obtained from other competitive enterprise software companies and applications. The ability to easily support and maintain applications also makes customization and upgrade processes faster and simpler, consequently reducing the total cost of ownership.
  • Interoperability -- Jira provides a large REST API library, over 2,000 add-on options and a plugin software development kit that enables companies to more efficiently develop, integrate and extend the use of Jira to create an enterprise-level platform.
  • User-friendly -- Companies and users prefer Jira because it provides an intuitive and uncomplicated interface that is easy to use. Furthermore, the support provided through community forums and open source documentation allows users to feasibly learn and adapt the tool to their needs.
  • Easy deployment -- Jira is deployed as a web application on Windows or Linux; it is designed to have a small footprint.
  • Scalable -- Jira can be used by small, medium or large organizations across a variety of teams and for basic or complex solutions.
  • Customizable -- The ability to customize the products to best fit an organization's work makes Jira beneficial for a large range of companies and projects.

Furthermore, Jira supports the major databases -- including MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle -- as well as standard web browsers -- such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Licensing

If an organization is considering licensing Jira, they have the option to try the services for free for seven days without any team size limitations. If the company decides to buy Jira, they can either license it as a cloud service with monthly payments or as a self-managed, on-premises service with one flat payment. Prices for on-premises services vary based on the number of team members using Jira and whether the company is buying it for a server or data center.

Pricing for the three packages when used through the cloud are listed below:

Jira Core options and prices:

  • Free -- Always free with support for up to 10 users. It includes 2 GB of file storage, and users have access to support from the Jira community. Users do not have anonymous access, advanced permissions or access to audit logs.
  • Standard -- The starting price is $5 per user, per month with support for up to 5,000 users. It includes 250 GB of file storage, and users have access to standard support during the workday.

Jira Software options and prices:

  • Free -- Always free with support for up to 10 users. It includes 2 GB of file storage, and users have access to support from the Jira community. Users do not have anonymous access, advanced permissions or access to audit logs.
  • Standard -- Prices start at $7 per user, per month with support for up to 5,000 users. It includes 250 GB of file storage, and users have access to standard support during the workday.
  • Premiums -- The starting price is $14 per user, per month with support for up to 5,000 users. Unlimited storage is provided, and users have access to 24/7 premium support.

Jira Service Desk options and prices:

  • Free -- Always free with support for up to 3 agents and no limit on the number of customers who can access the service. Agents are not provided with audit logs. It includes 2 GB of file storage, and users have access to support from the Jira community.
  • Standard -- The starting price is $20 per user, per month with support for up to 5,000 agents and unlimited customers. It includes 250 GB of file storage as well as access to standard support during the workday.
  • Premium -- Prices start at $40 per user, per month with support for up to 5,000 agents and unlimited customers. Users are provided with unlimited storage and 24/7 premium support.

History

Jira began life as an IT issue tracker. Over time, the tool evolved into an ALM product, helping developers handle all aspects of application development from naissance to retirement. Jira became the established leader in ALM tools over time, expanding to cover Agile and rapid application development (RAD) methodologies.

Atlassian is based in Sydney, Australia. The company released Jira in 2002. Jira's main competitor is SpiraTeam's Inflectra.

This was last updated in December 2019

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