Will 2022 be the year employees come out of their silos to become a cohesive and communicative whole? In this article, we’ll talk about how everyone can build and share clear, visual, and dynamic reports in the platform they’re already working in: Jira.
Why reporting silos happen
With remote working here to stay, making it easier for everyone to share real-time data with their teams has become even more important than it once was. Distributed teams are already working in different places; if they work in different platforms as well, trying to get everyone on the same page becomes a mighty, and unnecessary, feat.
Jira reporting silos are created in two ways. Users either export their data out of Jira to a third-party application so that they can build custom reports in a platform they’re familiar with, like Excel. This puts the worker, and the data, in a silo, cut off from the main database that everyone else is using.
Alternatively, users seek help in creating their reports from an expert. Most experts work in silos and most of the time it’s because they have to, because they’re using tools such as Tableau or EazyBI that only they know how to use. But, give your data to an expert and you lose all control over your reporting. There might be certain things you’d like to find out about how your project’s going, how your team’s performing, but, I’m afraid, tough. You’ll get what you’re given, and you’ll find out only what the expert chooses to tell you. How can you make sure your team is getting the most useful information when your data’s in someone else’s hands? Well, you can’t.
Out of the silo and onto the dashboard
The best ways of eliminating reporting silos is to enable all users to create the reports they want to create in Jira, and to make all users experts, so that there are no reporting overlords hoarding data and knowledge.
Of course, every Jira user knows that most of the reporting capabilities that come with the platform are way too basic for making the kinds of reports and charts they need. It’s the reason they export the data somewhere else or turn to an expert.
In Jira, there are two types of reporting: project reporting and dashboard reporting. To create a project report, you have to navigate to a project, then sometimes to a specific board, and generate your chosen report one at a time. This is a static report, i.e. the data is fixed at the time you run it, and you’ll need to run it again to get the most up-to-date data. Dashboard reporting is different. A dashboard consists of multiple reports, spanning multiple projects and boards, which you compile and display in one place. These reports, known as dashboard gadgets, will refresh automatically every time you load the dashboard, and are typically configured to update at regular intervals, thereby offering an almost real-time picture of your data.
As most of the project reports in Jira can be recreated on the Jira dashboard, dashboard reporting is more versatile, quicker, and provides stakeholders with a more comprehensive view of what’s going on. It’s why we think you should only use project reports if the report you need can’t be generated on a dashboard. Also, there are add-ons to improve your dashboard reporting, like Custom Charts for Jira, which lets you enhance your Jira dashboard with highly customized reports without leaving Jira.
Custom Charts acts as an extension to the native capabilities of the Jira dashboard, but with the same learning curve. With Custom Charts you can create and customize all kinds of dynamic reports in a few clicks, utilizing an intuitive drag-and-drop interface with absolutely no coding. Change colors, add labels and descriptions, combine or rearrange segments, show/hide data points, chart by story points and time spent, and more. You can also make a beautiful stacked bar chart, like the one below. Something you can’t do natively.
Custom Charts is actually a Jira dashboard gadget itself, just one that lets you create multiple charts, graphs, and tables using the same gadget. With the native gadgets, each chart you add to your dashboard is a different gadget you have to find. What’s also great is that most of the native gadgets can be replaced with more flexible and customizable Custom Charts versions.
For example, the Custom Charts pie chart is all-singing, all-dancing next to the native one, which can pipe a basic tune and perform a two-step. You’re able to change colors to keep them consistent (e.g. so “Done” is green, not blue) and change the order so that it’s more helpful for visualizing statuses. You can also rename segments or hide segments you don’t want to display. And it fixes a dumb thing native Jira does, namely, duplicating values when you create Next-Gen projects, e.g. multiple “To Dos” and “Dones”. Custom Charts does string matching on values so that all duplicate fields and statuses are automatically combined.
Why Custom Charts is killing project reporting
Custom Charts for Jira is helping speed the death of project reporting. One of the reasons teams still have to do it is that some project reports don’t have gadget versions and can’t be displayed on the Jira dashboard. For example, Cumulative Flow Diagrams – the report Kanban teams rely on the most – can’t be generated on a dashboard.
While Atlassian may, in time, create gadget versions of all the project reports, we’re already doing this with Custom Charts. You can create reports for Time Tracking, Created vs Resolved Issues, and Velocity. And we have two features on our roadmap (TRACC-88 and TRACC-103) that will make it possible to build a Cumulative Flow Diagram and display this crucial report on your dashboard.
Our hope is that soon you’ll be able to leave behind project reporting altogether and just focus on dashboards. Because, well, we love them. And by the time you’ve started tinkering with Custom Charts, you will too.
Let 2022 be the year you bring your teams out of their silos, by making Jira reporting a level playing field, and the Jira dashboard the field where everyone goes to play.
Christopher is a self-confessed nerd who’d probably take the cake on Mastermind if Star Trek: Voyager was his specialist subject. He writes fiction about time travel, conspiracies and aliens; loves roller coasters, hiking and Christmas; and hates carpet, rom-coms and anything with chilli in it. He’s written extensively for technology companies and Atlassian partners and specializes in translating complicated technical concepts, specs and jargon into readable, benefits-driven copy that casual readers will understand.