Zendesk and JIRA are both well-known online help desk issue tracking systems used by businesses and organizations to manage task assignments. Because they are both highly rated and offer similar features, you may be wondering which one is better for your particular situation. While they can be used independently, together they can provide a seamless environment for managing a product from planning and creation through maintenance and support.

Below we provide links to our detailed overviews of Zendesk and JIRA to give you a sense of what each has to offer on its own, then provide a comparison / contrast of the two solutions. Lastly, we discuss how they can be easily integrated to provide essential project management tools for the entire product lifecycle.

Zendesk versus JIRA

Zendesk is ideal for enhancing customer service, including measuring effectiveness and keeping on top of tickets from anywhere. In comparison, Atlassian’s JIRA provides the management and reporting tools you need to sustain a bird’s eye view of projects, communicate easily about in-the-works tasks, and assess and report progress. 

Both Cloud-based Saas programs:

  • Have clean, fast interfaces

  • Allow customization and visibility

  • Don’t require manual updates or syncing

  • Provide apps for mobile management

  • Facilitate customer feedback

  • Easily integrate with many third-party plugins and programs

  • Encourage customer feedback with touch-happy automated emails

How they differ:

  • Jira is best for managing projects (in particular, the software development cycle) while Zendesk is best for end-user communication because of its full customer service portal and ticketing capabilities.

  • Zendesk’s strengths are two-way communication, automation and knowledge bases, while JIRA’s strengths are multiple activity feeds at project, team, issue, and user levels, and assessment/reporting tools.

  • JIRA covers from concept to launch, while Zendesk focuses on follow up with maintenance, support and feedback. Zendesk is cheaper, but JIRA is free for open source projects.

  • Zendesk is almost turn-key, requiring little setup to start supporting customers, while Jira takes some adaptation and training.

Combining Zendesk and JIRA

Together, the two SaaS Cloud-based programs are the ultimate tracking, reporting and communication system for all levels of responsibility, extracting the highest quality customer service from your teams. Zendesk serves as a front door for customers seeking help, and for agents to respond efficiently. Jira provides essential team collaboration to get issues permanently resolved.

Using JIRA for internal work processes and Zendesk for customer support, you can:

  • Use an existing Zendesk ticket to create a JIRA issue that you can assign to the development team

  • Use Zendesk macros and triggers for quick response times, automatically assigning support requests to the development team in JIRA

  • Have multiple branded Zendesk customer service portals pointing to projects within Jira (Zendesk enterprise edition)

  • Exchange comments between support agents, coders and management via feeds

  • Close all linked Zendesk tickets by closing the related issue in JIRA

  • Map fields in JIRA issues and Zendesk tickets for easy data transfeAdditional benefits you can expect by combining these two powerhouses include:

Two-Way Communication -- No matter where you enter into the project, from Zendesk or Jira, you will experience seamless collaboration, revision and resolution of tickets without sacrificing necessary details.

Transparency -- Both SaaS Cloud-based programs allow you to control the display of ticket/issue details, status, and other key information that you need to share with customers, staff, partners and vendors. The controls help you make sure that everyone gets to see what they need to see, and nobody sees what they shouldn’t.

Because both programs make communication with customers, team members, partners and vendors convenient to access and control, you’ll be able to demonstrate the transparency expected by each of these players. You’ll have x-ray vision into the workings of your teams, as well as customer profiles stored in other programs like SalesForce and SugarCRM, so that customers can count on receiving seamless support.

Automatically track all issues -- JIRA interactions are added to Zendesk tickets automatically, and Zendesk activity is synced with JIRA issues. When sharing tickets between the two platforms, fields can be mapped to prevent information not automatically conveyed. This makes it easy to add JIRA or Zendesk even if you’re already an established user of one program.

Accessibility -- Because Zendesk and JIRA both offer mobile apps and online dashboards, and share data easily, you can keep your finger on the pulse of the department, product or project no matter where you are. You can see Zendesk info in JIRA, JIRA info in Zendesk, and information from both programs in Wordpress, Salesforce, Joomla, and many other integrations. Customer-facing technology provides enhanced two-way communication, and makes it easier to collaborate with and educate customers.

Shared knowledge -- Within minutes of integrating Zendesk into Jira, your support team will be able to share tickets with the development team for efficient reproduction and resolution of development issues. At the same time, your support agents will be able to keep up to speed on the development team’s latest activity.  

Unparalleled access - The Networked Help Desk open API is used to synchronize information between JIRA and Zendesk. Each system has a lengthy list of APIs for extensive customization.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily these two programs hit the ground running, while providing the convenience and affordability of online software as a service.

How has combining Jira and Zendesk made things better for you? Post comments below to tell us...


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.