Everything You Need to Know about Jira Dashboards

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Introduction

A successfully growing organization will have an expanding volume of projects and programs, many of which will be launched in parallel. Jira Dashboards have been designed to provide a quick overview of everything teams working in Jira need to know at a glance. They make available, in one place and in real time, all the most relevant and useful information about these projects, thereby keeping teams focused, motivated and efficient.

Setting up your Jira dashboards properly is crucial to getting the most out of the tool, and everyone on the same page. The following is a guide to making useful Jira Dashboards for those new or relatively new to Jira Software. It also offers tips and tricks for how to get the most out of them.

What are Jira Dashboards?

When you first log in to Jira, there are several choices for what you’d like to display as the home page. Some people want to go straight to the Kanban view, but otherwise, the Jira Dashboard will be the first thing you see.

Every “window” on that page is called a Jira Dashboard Gadget. These gadgets provide dynamic and very visual summaries of Jira project and issue data. Jira comes with a set of standard, pre-installed gadgets out of the box. You can also download more gadgets from the Atlassian Marketplace. (More on that later.)

If you’d like to know how Jira Dashboards improve visibility and accuracy of data, eliminate silos, and save you a ton of admin time, have a read of our Why Are Jira Dashboards So Useful? article.

The Default Jira Dashboard

The default dashboard, called the system dashboard, is the screen Jira users will see the first time they log in. It comes loaded with gadgets from Jira’s pre-installed selection and is limited to only one dashboard page. 

Jira administrators can add, remove, reorder and in some cases configure the gadgets displayed on the default dashboard. The layout, such as the number of columns, can also be changed. You can do this by clicking Administration > System and then User Interface > System Dashboard to open the Configure System Dashboard page.

How Many Gadgets Should You Have on a Jira Dashboard?

There is a limit of 20 gadgets on a single dashboard page, which means that’s all you can display on the default dashboard. If you need to, you can raise the 20-gadget limit by editing the jira-config.properties file in the Advanced Settings page of Jira’s administration area. Just set jira.dashboard.max.gadgets to your preferred value and restart Jira.

That said, we recommend a maximum of 6 gadgets per dashboard for ease of use and clarity. It is much better to have multiple smaller dashboards with a specific use case for each rather than one giant dashboard trying to show everything. Dashboards are great for showing data summaries and reports “at a glance” so keeping them simple helps to achieve that goal.

The Top Three Most Useful Jira Dashboard Gadgets

Out of the box, Jira has a wide range of dashboard gadgets to choose from, so where do you start?

The three most useful gadgets we think any dashboard can benefit from are:

  • Pie Charts
  • Two Dimensional Filter Statistics
  • Filter Results

Pie Charts for Jira

A pie chart is a common report type that everyone will already be familiar with, and that familiarity is a good thing. Getting people to understand your data in a few seconds is key to a valuable report and a sign of a useful dashboard. The built-in Pie Chart Gadget is simple and effective at showing your team’s issues as a percentage.

Jira Pie Chart

There are some limitations to this built-in gadget (e.g. the colors and ordering can’t be changed). Additional gadgets such as Custom Charts for Jira can be added from the Atlassian Marketplace to resolve these limitations; we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Two Dimensional Filter Statistics for Jira

A question that will continually arise when creating reports in Jira: “How do I compare one statistic to another?” or more commonly “How do I create a pivot table?”. The built-in solution is the Two Dimensional Filter Statistics gadget. This gadget allows you to compare two different statistics (e.g. Status and App Hosting in the example screenshot) to gain greater insight into your data.

Jira Two-Dimensional Filter Statistics

This isn’t just a nice way to display data, it’s also an interactive table that you can click on to drill down to see the underlying issues.

Filter Results for Jira

Finally, the most commonly used Jira Dashboard gadget is also one of the simplest. Jira is built around the idea of creating filters to search for the data you need. The Filter Results gadget allows you to select a saved filter and display the results directly on a dashboard.

Ok, so what?

While a single gadget on a dashboard would be functionally no different to viewing the filter in the standard Jira issue search screen, the power of dashboards is to have multiple gadgets displaying complimentary information.

For example, you could have a pie chart gadget showing all the issues in the project “Support” by status and also a Filter Results gadget listing out only the highest priority issues.

Jira Filter High Priority Results

More Examples of Jira Dashboard Gadgets

Built-In Jira Dashboard Gadgets

In addition to Pie Charts, Two Dimensional Filter Statistics, and Filter Results, Jira comes with a number of other built-in gadgets that can be used to provide your teams with an overview of your data right away.

Jira Created vs Resolved Gadget

Created Vs. Resolved Jira Chart Gadget

The Created vs Resolved Gadget is a perfect example of an “indicator at a glance”. If more issues are being created than are being resolved over a given period the chart will display the area between the two lines as red. If more are being resolved then the area will be green. Simple.

Jira Issue Statistics Gadget

Jira Issue Statistics Count and Percentage

This is a simple summary of your issues. This gadget is comparable to a horizontal bar chart and shows the selected metric (in this image the assignee) as comparable percentages. Tracking the relative workload of individual users can quickly highlight problems and bottlenecks in your processes and help to keep the whole project running smoothly.

Jira Sprint Burndown Gadget

Jira Agile Sprint Burdonw Gadget

Like the Created vs Resolved Chart, the Sprint Burndown is a Jira Report that’s already available at the individual project level. However, adding it to a Jira Dashboard as a gadget allows you to view multiple sprints together. This can show which agile teams are on track and give an indication of the overall health of the projects.

Jira Sprint Health Gadget

For an even clearer indication of the sprint health, use the Sprint Health Gadget to show what’s in your ‘to-do’ category, what’s in your ‘in-progress’ category, and what’s in your ‘done’ category. This gadget also tells you what percentage of time has elapsed and what percentage of work is complete. It makes for a great conversation starter; you can how see you’re doing, what the scope changes are, if any issues have been flagged, etc. And it acts as a heads-up for your Scrum master when it comes to removing roadblocks.

Jira Agile Sprint Health Gadget Scrum Report

Jira Dashboard Gadgets Available on the Atlassian Marketplace

While the built-in apps provide the basic functionality to get most teams started, you will often be left wanting more. The Atlassian Marketplace has many reporting apps to choose from, each providing slightly different functionality that should be reviewed to assess the best tool for your company and your team.

The following example of a Jira Dashboard built for a support team makes use of additional gadgets provided by the Custom Charts for Jira Reports app.

Jira Dashboard for Support Teams JSD Custom Charts

For much more complex big data reporting, there are other tools available, such as EazyBI (below). This can create incredibly detailed reports, but it requires learning a custom scripting language.

eazyBI Jira Reporting Dashboard

Idalko’s Pivot Gadget (below) gives spreadsheet functionality to your Jira Dashboards. You can aggregate and drill down to view your data in two-dimensions in a table grid.

Pivot Gadget supports the following fields:

  • Issue fields (e.g. priority, project, date created, date updated)
  • All custom number fields

Furthermore, the gadget has many extra features including, but not limited, to issue count and time tracking.

iDalko pivot Jira gadget

Other popular gadgets available via Atlassian Marketplace include the Gauge Gadget (below), which allows quick visualizations of issues on very simple displays.

Jira Gauge Gadget Critical Jira Issues

Creating Dashboards in Jira

1. Create a Jira Dashboard

It’s easy to create a new dashboard from anywhere in Jira.

In Jira Cloud, just go to Dashboards > Create dashboard. 

How to Create a Jira Dashboard

In Jira Server & Data Center, click Dashboards > Manage Dashboards. Then click Create new dashboard in the top right of the page. 

How to Create a Jira Server Dashboard

Give your dashboard a name and description so your team knows when to use it. Fill out the remaining fields, then click save

2. Choose Your Jira Dashboard Layout

Now click Edit layout to determine how you want your gadgets to display. The options are pretty simple with only five to choose from. Once you have chosen your layout, the width of each gadget is fixed, but the height is variable.

Edit Jira Dashboard Layout

3. Add Gadgets

You’ll now have an empty dashboard in front of you. Jira Dashboards are fully customizable, with each gadget being a modular window, with various options to choose which information you’d like to display, and how you want it presented. There are many gadgets available straight out of the box, and even more on the Atlassian Marketplace.

To get started, click Add gadget and choose from the available gadgets to populate your dashboard. Custom dashboards are not limited to one dashboard page. 

Add Jira Gadget to Jira Dashboard

It can take a few seconds for all of the available gadgets to appear. Click Load all gadgets to ensure the full list is loaded.

Load more Jira Gadgets

Ideally, the most important and heavily used gadgets should be visible as soon as the dashboard loads. Depending on the type of reports being displayed it can be helpful to experiment with different layout options to see which works best for each use case. As mentioned earlier, a rule of thumb is to aim for no more than 6 gadgets on a single dashboard.

You can create a different dashboard for each project you’re working on, or even multiple dashboards for a single project. However, less is quite often more, and setting up more dashboards than you need can create clutter and confusion. 

Note: some of the gadgets require filters. This means that if you share your dashboard with people who aren’t able to view the results of your filter, it means they’re not going to see any data on the dashboard. So if you want them to see any of the gadgets that have filter results, make sure the filter is turned on for those people.

Top Tip

You can save time creating a dashboard from scratch by copying an existing dashboard and simply changing a few of the gadgets. Just click Copy dashboard from the More menu (…) on the top right of any dashboard.

Copy Jira Dashboard

Making Jira Information Radiators

What is an Information Radiator?

An information radiator, also known as a Big Visual Chart (BVC), is a large display of key team and project information located in a spot in a shared workspace where the team can see it constantly.

Back in the day, information radiators or BVCs were hand-drawn or printed displays. These days they’re big wall-mounted TV screens showing continuously and automatically updated electronic graphs and charts. They give you a central and consistent way of displaying key project indicators so that whatever’s going on around you, you always have immediate access to critical data. Plus, passers-by and visitors, e.g. stakeholders/customers, get to see how the team is doing.

The goal of an information radiator is to keep your team focused and productive, promote transparency and accountability among the team members, and show off their success to other staff and visitors.

What’s Great About Jira Information Radiators?

In Jira, you can turn any dashboard into an information radiator, known as a Jira Wallboard.

The benefits of Jira Wallboards are numerous. By displaying your sprint burndown, sprint health, sprint days remaining and other key metrics, they help keep issues at the forefront of team members’ minds. More importantly, they encourage communication and regular feedback to make sure everybody stays on task, and on track.

Jira Wallboards are also about transparency. They demonstrate that the team has nothing to hide from visitors, or the rest of the business, or itself. In other words, the team acknowledges and confronts problems. This fosters responsibility and accountability among team members. Wallboards help teams focus on results and deepen whole team ownership of those results, as well as the difficulties they may encounter along the way. A secondary benefit is that your Jira Wallboard might provoke conversation when an outsider visits, and this can yield useful ideas.

How To Create Information Radiators in Jira

Here’s how to display an entire dashboard (although bear in mind that not all dashboard gadgets are wallboard-compatible).

  1. Plug your computer into a TV monitor.
  2. Go to Dashboards > View all dashboards.
  3. Choose your dashboard from the sidebar.
  4. Click the More menu (…) and select View as wallboard from the dropdown.

Alternatively, you may want to display one dashboard gadget at a time in rotation, to focus your team’s attention on that gadget. Here’s how.

  1. Follow the steps above but when clicking the More menu, select Set up wallboard slideshow.
  2. Select which dashboards you want to be part of the slideshow.
  3. Check the box if you want the gadgets to display in a random order.
  4. Choose how you want each gadget to transition into the next.
  5. Select how long you want each gadget to display.
  6. Click done.
  7. Click the More menu and select View wallboard slideshow.

Information radiators are a fun and expressive way of sharing your team’s progress and success with a wider audience, and of motivating and empowering team members. In the long run, they can change the culture of an organization by making it more open and collaborative.

Scrum masters should elicit feedback from their team to find out if the information being displayed on a Jira Wallboard is relevant. If it’s not, it can be adapted easily enough. In a future blog, we’ll let you in on the gadgets we think are the best for ‘radiating’.

Are Jira Wallboards Still Relevant in the Remote Working Age?

Since Covid hit, many previously co-located teams are now working from home. Obviously, Jira Wallboards are designed for co-located teams in shared physical spaces. Although they will become relevant again as more and more people head back to the office post-Covid, what about the teams that stay fully distributed? It’s clear that we’re entering a new era of remote working, so the issue is how to make sure key information is ‘radiated’ to all those working from home.

Our Communication and Culture in the Remote Age article talks about this in more detail, and briefly touches on a new feature we’re working on that will allow for the embedding of an interactive shared dashboard in company webpages or emails.

Jira Dashboards – Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it Possible to Create Multiple Jira dashboards?

Yes, every user on Jira can create their own dashboards.

By default, dashboards are created as “Private” so are only visible to the dashboard owner (the user who created the dashboard).

To be able to share dashboards with other users and groups the dashboard owner must have the “Share dashboards and filters” global permission.

As discussed above, it’s important to only create dashboards that you need, so consider if multiple dashboards are required, or if an existing dashboard can be used/ repurposed.

2. How Do I Use the Jira System Dashboard?

The System Dashboard is the shared (public) Jira Dashboard that is the default landing page for your Jira instance.

It is therefore good practice to keep the System Dashboard as generic as possible as well as adding helpful links to guide users to where they need to go. Any filters used on the system dashboard should be shared with the correct people to ensure that they don’t see broken gadgets.

3. Who Can Edit a Jira Dashboard?

At the time of writing this there are two different answers.

For Jira Server and Data Center, since Jira version 7.12.0 it has been possible to have multiple editors of a single dashboard.

For Jira Cloud, only the dashboard owner is able to edit gadgets. This limitation is known by Atlassian and there is an open feature request to allow multiple dashboard owners that is gathering interest. To change the ownership of a dashboard (e.g. if the current owner has left the company) you must be a Jira administrator.

4. What Jira Dashboards Mistakes Should I Avoid?

The most common mistakes when creating dashboards are around permissions.

If you create a dashboard that looks great for you, very often when you will share it with someone their first reply will be “I can’t access that” or “All the gadgets are empty”.

This is most likely caused by the dashboard itself not being accessible to others and the individual filters being restricted. These cases are explained in a specific FAQ below.

Another common mistake occurs when copying a dashboard. When a dashboard is copied it will keep all the configuration of the original, including the saved filters used on each gadget. This means that, after a dashboard is copied, you will need to update all the saved filters to reflect the new projects or data you want to be displayed.

5. How Can I Share My Jira Dashboard and Filters?

There are a number of options when choosing who to share Jira Dashboards and filters with:

Private (default option)

  • Only accessible by the owner

Group

  • Accessible to anyone in the selected group
  • On Jira Cloud you can only share dashboards and filters with groups of which your user is a member

Public

  • Anyone on the internet can view the dashboard or filter
  • This only allows anonymous users to see the underlying issues if the projects containing the issues also have Public set on the browse projects and issue permission schemes

My organization (Cloud only)

  • Organizations are a site level management system created by Atlassian specifically for Cloud
  • The documentation can be found here.

Any logged-in user (Server and Data Center only)

  • Any user that is able to login to the Jira instance can access the dashboards or filters
  • This only allows logged-in users to see the underlying issues if the projects containing the issues also have “Any logged-in user” set on the browse projects and issue permission schemes

6. Are Jira Dashboard and Scrum/Kanban Boards Different?

Jira Dashboards provide an overview of data across different time ranges and multiple projects.

A Scrum / Kanban is used by teams on a daily basis to progress their issues through workflows. They tend to be project-specific and are focused on only the current work being completed.

Each has a specific function and they are best used in tandem to empower your team.

Conclusion

Jira Dashboards have existed since the very earliest days of Jira. They are a hugely powerful tool to allow users at all levels of an organization to view data quickly, simply, and reliably.

It’s very easy to create lots of issues and quickly fill Jira with valuable information, but being able to actually use that information to make decisions is paramount. Jira Dashboards allow the democratization of data by empowering users at all levels of a company to visualize their progress.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution with dashboards; they are a versatile tool for a huge variety of use cases, only a small handful of which have been covered here.

The most important point to emphasize is that you should have a good understanding of what you are trying to achieve before you start. Dashboards are an organic and dynamic reporting feature that should be constantly reviewed, adapted, and updated.

Tom Harris Jira Reporting Old Street

Former Atlassian User Group London Leader. Experienced Atlassian Certified Consultant specialising in automating Jira Service Desk and simplifying Jira for non-technical teams. Expertise in improving real-time reporting and charts for Confluence and Jira.