What we think, say & do

20 April 2017
JIRA Software

JIRA Software is one of several software products produced by Atlassian. It is a project management tool used by agile teams for the planning, tracking and reporting on a project. JIRA Software supports any agile methodology, and at Cameron & Wilding we use it for all of our Scrum projects.


For an agile project, JIRA software comes with a comprehensive set of tools that help us with our projects. Some of these include the following:


  • Backlog grooming

This is the process of adding epics, creating and editing stories, and estimating their effort. This process greatly helps streamline future sprint planning meetings which, otherwise, can drag out for a long time. The JIRA Software backlog UI allows you to re-order tickets by drag and drop, allows for adding story points, and is laid out in such a way that tickets can be dragged from the backlog into a sprint and vice versa.



  • Sprint planning

This meeting occurs prior to the start of the next sprint. During the meeting tickets are allocated from the backlog into the sprint, story point estimates are re-checked and possibly edited, and stories are ordered by priority. This is usually done with other factors in mind like the team velocity, team annual leave, etc. Directly from the JIRA Software Backlog UI, a new sprint can be created, tickets from the backlog can be dragged into it, and the sprint can be started all from the one screen.



  • Story pointing

A story point is an estimate of the relative complexity of a story. In JIRA, story points are implemented via a custom field called "Story Points". This allows anyone on the team to compare tickets to understand those with a high complexity versus those with a low complexity. Once a team knows its sprint velocity, this field helps to determine how many tickets to take into future sprints.


  • Scrum board

The Scrum Board is the centrepiece of the product, and is used to visualize all of the work in a given sprint at any time. These are highly customisable with features like columns, swimlanes and the ability to drag and drop tickets between columns, and enforce workflows.

  • Workflows

Workflows are a fantastic feature that allows for the creation of custom workflow states and transitions for every issue type (bugs, stories, and epics). This can also be configured to enforce a user to update an issue when progressing it across the board.


  • Reporting

JIRA Software includes a number of built-in reports which are specific for agile teams. These allow you to gain insight into your agile process, the current state of a sprint, as well as adding value to your retrospectives. Some of these include the following:

    • Velocity Chart

This helps you determine your team's velocity, track the amount of work done per sprint, and estimate the work the team can realistically achieve in future sprints.

    • Burndown Chart

This allows you to track the total work remaining for a sprint and to help determine the likelihood of achieving the sprint goal. This helps the team manage its progress allowing them to respond accordingly.


    JIRA Software is a large system with a plethora of features. There are some great features highlighted above, but there are plenty more. For example,

    • JIRA Software integrates with The Atlassian Marketplace where you can download both free and paid add-ons to extend your JIRA experience.

    • There are a number of deployment options available, including Cloud, Server, and Data Centre.

    • It includes its own query language JQL (JIRA Query Language) - this allows you to build your own custom queries to search for issues.

    • It integrates seamlessly with other Atlassian tools, such as Confluence, Bitbucket, Bamboo, and HipChat.

    • The list goes on and on.

    It does take some time to learn, but it is likely you only need to learn the parts that are relevant to you and your job - a developer is more likely to be concerned with commenting on and progressing tickets, whereas a scrum master may be more interested in reporting. JIRA Software is much more than a simple bug tracker, and is highly recommend for Agile teams. 

    Brendan MacDonald
    Brendan MacDonald
    Software Tester
    Brendan's background is in Software Testing having spent the past 12 years working in this field. He has spent the last few years specialising in Test Automation using tools such as UFT/QTP, Robot Framework, and Behat to test web and mobile sites for clients such as Cancer Research UK, Freshfields, Entrago, and many others.