By Chris Dunne
In IT project management, while no tool can ensure effective cohesiveness, productivity, and communication, the right project management platform can certainly help a team come together and stay on track. One such product is Atlassian’s JIRA, an extremely flexible web-based tool for project tracking. Let us examine some of the strengths and weaknesses of this product.
One of JIRA’s key philosophies is to allow an entire team to gain a cohesive view of where the project stands, rather than being a top-down system that is only of use to managers. JIRA is web-based for easy access from within an organization’s intranet and users are able to log in using company-managed credentials. When given proper access users can create and track issues, bugs, tasks, and other items in a way that is effective and visible to the rest of the team.
JIRA also integrates well with GreenHopper, another Atlassian product used to implement agile projects and can be adapted to work with Scrum and Kanban styles. This integration takes the methodology of user stories and sprints and works them into a visual format that is easy to manage – essentially an digital version of the post-its and whiteboard that some teams use.
A current sprint can be defined and when viewed in the interface is divided in panels that are marked “To Do,” “In Progress,” “Deployment,” and “Done.” Cards that are associated with each task are defined and laid out according to their current state, and one convenient feature is that that user can simply drag the card into the next state when that point arrives. Estimates for tasks can be defined in advance and there is a nice visual bar indicating progress of work completed against the estimate. The user can easily re-estimate the work if needed. Logging work completed is done with a simple right-click, selection, and small dialogue in which hours can be entered and as well as an optional description of the work completed. These intuitive visualization features and ease of access make JIRA a powerful tool for maintaining a high-level view of a project.
There are several drawbacks to JIRA, however. As a web-based tool with many powerful visual features, responsiveness is not always perfect. The drag and drop features can occasionally incur some lag and even lock up the interface on even a reasonably fast machine. The system may not be inherently intuitive at first as it contains much flexibility that can be used with a variety of methodologies, but will certainly have an initial learning curve.
Despite any weaknesses, JIRA is an excellent platform for giving a team a sense of cohesiveness, allowing it to monitor its progress, and keep it on track towards its project goals. It is a highly recommended for any software project manager. Daysha have successfully used Jira and Greenhopper for both internal projects and project with customers such as the European Space Agency, with distributed teams across multiple sites.
To find out more contact Daysha.
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