Atlassian’s Jira is an online project tracking program that keeps the activity in the heart of the project. It allows you to create unlimited projects and focus areas (called components) and set your own rules to support unique workflow steps for each project.  

Designed to help software development teams plan, build and launch products, Cloud-based Jira allows users to capture, organize, prioritize, assign and complete any kind of task throughout the software development cycle. It shows its stripes when tasked with multiple assignments associated with a released number.

According to the Atlassian website, 19,000 companies in 115 countries including Cisco, Adobe and Facebook use Jira for product management and project management, as well as maintaining customer accounts and analyzing data.

Key Features of Jira

No more going with the flow -- Jira allows you to customize workflows on the fly, choosing terms to fit your existing processes so you don’t have to bend over backward to make your way of doing things work with its way of doing things. For example, settings can be used to prevent an assignee from resolving a ticket before changing the status to “in progress”.

Each project can have unique fields, display settings, and permissions (e.g. certain users can only see some projects and issue types). The flexibility of the workflow settings makes it easy to adapt as your methods evolve.

Keep up to speed -- Through the use of OpenSocial gadgets, Jira dashboards can be customized for quick access to the particular information you need most and convenient updates to recent projects and issues. Alerts and notifications can be set to suit your priorities per project, sent to individuals or teams, and received by email, chat, RSS feeds and browser plugins. Mobile apps keep you informed on the move, engage and glean feedback from users, and automatically log crash reports.

A variety of sharable, subscribable, saveable filters for intelligent reporting in Jira allow you to monitor activity from different angles including user workload, issue metrics, time tracking and project age. Pre-built reports include roadmap generation for future releases and changelog recall from past versions. You can use JIRA Query Language (JQL)’s query builder with auto-complete to run ad hoc reports, find elusive records, and creating dashboard and Jira Wallboard charts and lists. A feature called project road map lends visual perspective to specific project benchmarks and upcoming events.

Stay agile -- The Atlassian add-on GreenHopper makes Agile planning and reporting for Scrum or Kanban simple, even if you’re new to it. Processes can be visualized using cards on a project or team board and optimized according to Lean Development principles. Backlog management and sprint planning are easy.

Collaborate conveniently -- Activity streams for users, issues or projects can be viewed in your dashboard or through RSS readers. They give you ready access to team, build and code updates, as well as activity from third party apps for test case and helpdesk management. Create custom dashboards to share with your team.

Communicate both ways -- Feedback forms and buttons can be included on websites to request information from users who are not part of the product team such as customers, vendors and partners. Connect to Salesforce to link projects with opportunities.

Atlassian’s Confluence, iGoogle and other applications can be added to make sharing simple. Linking a Jira project to a Confluence space allows you to collaborate on requirements and specs. It’s easy to connect to LDAP and Active Directory. Such remote links allow you to trace from key apps to individual lines of code.

Improve code quality -- In your Confluence wiki, you can search for documentation on the latest in coding best practices and embed it in your dashboard for customized content, create new issues while within the wiki, and connect data for streamlined reporting.

Through Jira, your source code is integrated with simple, flexible defect tracking while sustaining the development environment that works best.

You can link issues to source code, build status, code changes and reviews, etc. Start a code review as a JIRA issue, then turn around and create sub-tasks for any defects found under the review.

You’ve got issues -- In Jira, all tasks, bug fixes, ideas, stories, requirements and requests are referred to as issues. You can define issue types to match your internal processes. Keyboard shortcuts for every issue-related action means minimal menu clicking. Automatic actions can be set to handle common or custom tasks.

Power up with plug-ins -- There are thousands of add-ons that extend Jira’s capabilities, including resource management, time tracking software, test management, and Microsoft Project integration.

Don’t lose momentum -- Jira can import projects and issues from legacy bug trackers such as Trac, Mantis, Pivotal Tracker, Bugzilla and Fogbugz, and can be pointed to source code repositories like Git, SVN, CVS, Perforce, or Mercurial on your own hardware or in the Cloud to automatically link issues. You’ll be able to set fine-grained permissions and collaborate on code fixes.

If you have a Bamboo continuous integration server, you can connect Jira’s issues with builds to see issue details and statuses, and set one-click release management for a streamlined deployment. (Note: JIRA OnDemand supports only Bamboo OnDemand).

Enterprise-level expertise -- Companies with more than 500 agents can choose Atlassian Enterprise, which includes 24-7 support online and by phone, training on Jira for users and administrators, webinar workshops on best-practices, and exclusive membership in the Atlassian Community. These additional services support a smooth Jira deployment.

Jira Pricing

Monthly subscriptions to the on-demand Jira start at $10 per year after a free 30-day trial, and allows 10 users. The monthly rate for 15 users is $50, 25 users is $100 per month, and so on up to 2,000 users. If you prefer to download Jira, the starter plan is $10, the rate for 25 users is $1,200, 50 users is $2,200, etc. up to 500+ users. All features are available to all users, but the more users, the higher the cost. Atlassian Enterprise comes with additional services which facilitate the deployment of Jira. Prices start at $12,000. 

Note: Jira is free for open source projects.

How has Jira solved project management problems for you? Post a comment below...


Ellen Berry is Content Director for Myndbend. Her background is in website development, graphic design, career development, project management, entrepreneurship, technical writing, and journalism. She has worked for small start-ups, Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits, in fields including biomedical research and development, IT, finance, telecommunications, publishing and digital media. Her articles are frequently published on high profile websites such as USAToday, ScientificAmerican, TechRepublic and MonsterWorking.