Gone are the days of agile at the team level only. Nowadays large companies want agile across their entire business, and Jira Align is the tool many are using to scale up their agile practices.
While Jira Align offers invaluable enterprise agile planning and oversight, some of the most vital data in agile is how work is progressing at the team level. And because teams work in Jira, not Jira Align, this is where you’ll find detailed team-level insights that may not be relevant higher up. Especially if you’re using a custom Jira dashboard reporting app like Custom Charts for Jira.
Custom Charts for Jira can also help enterprises prepare for scaled agile if they haven’t yet implemented Jira Align, and continue to operate effectively at scale once they have.
Let’s delve deeper into how Jira Align and Jira dashboard reporting with Custom Charts complement one another.
What is Jira Align?
Jira, particularly with all the bells and whistles of Jira Cloud Premium, nails it for empowering teams to deliver huge value at high velocity, but as the size of the organization creeps up to 5, 6, 7, or even 70 agile teams, something’s got to give. Combine this with frequent ask-around methods like OKRs (objectives and key results) and there’s a clear need for something more.
This is where Jira Align comes in. Jira Align is a tool that integrates the work teams are doing with a company’s purpose and strategy. It makes work visible and aligned across all levels of scale, from single teams and projects through to programs (a collection of related projects) and portfolios (an initiative containing various projects and programs that furthers a business’ long-term strategy).
As organizations embark on their quest for enterprise agility, Jira Align provides both the helicopter view and the tools to help manage the relevant functionality at each layer. This ranges from CEOs collaborating to curate the company strategy to portfolio managers governing the flow of finance, to managers helping teams coordinate between each other in quarterly planning.
What is Custom Charts for Jira?
Custom Charts for Jira is a reporting app that lets you report on multiple teams, sprints, and projects across your instance, directly on Jira dashboards. Teams use Custom Charts to plan, monitor, and reflect on work, both day-to-day and at the beginning/end of projects and sprints.
Team leaders and project managers can build charts and dashboards to guide, inform, and motivate their teams. Equally, team members can build their own charts to keep track of their work.
Using a drag-and-drop interface, you can build any kind of chart you want in a matter of seconds, from project and sprint progress to workload monitoring and absence planning. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Customize colors, labels, and descriptions
- Show/hide data
- Chart in 2D
- Use 3rd party custom fields
- Make charts even quicker using templates
- Parse data down further using an additional gadget called Simple Search
- Although you don’t have to, you can use Jira Query Language (JQL) if you’re dealing with more complex data sets.
Two ways enterprises benefit from Jira Align and Custom Charts together
1. Data hygiene and preparing for scaled agile
For enterprises to effectively scale up their agile practices with Jira Align, their data has to be correct. “You can’t scale crazy” as they say in many Jira Align training courses with infamous legend Matt Magee. Enterprise, portfolio, and program-level oversight can’t happen with out-of-date or inaccurate data. So the first step towards true enterprise agility is to get your data ready to support it!
Organizations can use the handy free Marketplace app, Jet by Jira Align, which examines a company’s use of Jira to ensure it’s ready for scaled agility and Jira Align. It does this by highlighting data errors/weaknesses and other areas that need remediation, e.g. epics missing versions, stories missing story points, problems with sprints etc. With Jet, you can create a list of clear checks and balances around your data BUT it’s fundamentally a point-in-time audit for admins.
Custom Charts for Jira can be used to build on this with charts that mirror the checks Jet makes, or highlights other data worth cleaning up. This is great both when preparing to implement Jira Align, and for practicing continuous data hygiene post-implementation. You can also include other bespoke data hygiene checks and balances your teams find useful. Want to keep an eye to ensure teams aren’t consistently forgetting to populate a field? No problem!
The report below is a chart that mirrors one of the checks done by Jet with a very nice pie chart visual. You can then click on the segment showing no story points and go to those issues for a deeper investigation.
An important thing to note is that Jira Align tackles the complexity of sitting across lots of different team workflows by summarizing statuses into a reduced set. The Custom Charts bar chart below helps users see which statuses have the most issues in order to guide your Jira ↔︎ Jira Align mapping.
And this next report, a Custom Charts table chart, shows projects updated in the last 90 days. The HR project and Sales Team projects haven’t received any updates, so it could be worth archiving those projects when preparing to implement Jira Align.
The good thing about Custom Charts is that you can create these reports and keep them on a continually refreshing Jira dashboard for ongoing monitoring after Jira Align has been implemented. It means you’re able to visualize areas where data needs to be cleaned up without having to go back and keep re-running Jet audits. (And for fans of green ticks, it also means your Jet reports will get ever more pleasing to the eye!)
2. Reporting for the people
Jira Align offers an extensive list of reports at the enterprise, portfolio, and program levels. These allow every layer of an organization from executives downwards to keep track of the bigger picture and make sure all work is aligned with the company’s overarching strategy.
It does also offer a multitude of reports at the team level. Even though there’s an incredible amount of options, unless you also subscribe to Atlassian’s “Enterprise Insights” product, these are mostly preconfigured charts without the option to combine them in dashboards (at least for now). Moreover, Jira Align’s team-level reports can feel geared more towards what executives want to see in terms of the progress, status, and effectiveness of their teams. It’s filling the enterprise reporting gap which organizations practicing enterprise agility have been crying out for.
What enterprises also need is reporting for the people, by the people. In Jira Software and Jira Work Management, teams themselves are making the reports they need to work effectively and provide immediately relevant data tailored to their team. And where better to find out how a team is doing than going where they are: Jira.
On a Jira dashboard, teams can display a varied combination of metrics with ease. And if they use a custom reporting app like Custom Charts, they’re not limited to preconfigured charts. They can build the charts they want, tailored to their needs, conveying the exact message they want their audience to take away.
Importantly, Custom Charts can be used to look at things Jira Align intentionally wouldn’t. For example, Custom Charts would let teams take a deep dive into the specifics of their Xray test management tickets. Jira Align isn’t designed to focus on this level of detail, but for individual teams this local slicing, dicing, and visualizing of data still reaps dividends.
The two charts below, which use 3rd party custom fields, are an example of where Custom Charts offers insights useful and relevant to teams, less so to executives seeking a rolled-up, high-level view. The bar chart displays the Xray issue types in a Scrum project, while the Issue List provides visibility into your issues’ pre-condition data (something that’s only available in Xray).
And the pie chart below helps teams monitor and manage scope creep by using an Enhanced Search filter from Adaptavist’s Scriptrunner, which shows issues added after the sprint start date (something that isn’t available natively in Jira).
In effect, Jira Align enables you to look at all of the work across the whole enterprise and make sure everything’s in line with your strategy and goals. Custom Charts is for looking more in-depth at what teams are doing and how their tasks are progressing. Both insights are valuable and necessary, but to different people within the organization, at different times, and for different purposes.
Jira Align provides enterprise-grade scaling to support your organization’s agility. Custom Charts for Jira enables individual teams to manage their data locally so that the best information feeds up, powering all the awesome levels of scale that get visualized in Align. But most importantly, Custom Charts keeps teams on point with compelling, easy-to-build visuals that executives and the wider business may not need, but that the teams who make them thrive off.
If you have any questions about how Jira Align and Custom Charts work together to optimize enterprise reporting, you can contact our support team anytime.
Christopher Berry is a sci-fi nerd, author of thriller novels, former lawyer, and Confluence lover. As Head of Content for Custom Charts for Jira, he creates content about Atlassian tools, reporting, agile working, and shit bosses. Kit Friend is a dedicated Jira/Confluence geek, martial arts instructor, former artist, and proud dad of two. As Accenture’s Agile & Atlassian Specialist, he helps enterprises facilitate scaled agile transformations.