Jira Work Management: Get your Business and Software Teams on the Same Page

Jira Work Management for Business Teams Header Image

The past year saw digital transformation timelines compressed from years to weeks as organizations scrambled to facilitate remote working. Companies soon realized, effective remote working is about more than just about enabling remote work. It’s about enabling remote teamwork.

So Jira Work Management was launched at an auspicious time. This (almost) new platform empowers employees in departments such as HR, legal, operations, and marketing to connect with employees in software development and support, to work with them more efficiently.

The architecture Jira Work Management shares with Jira Software and Jira Service Management allows data to flow between projects, regardless of the team or department the project belongs to. For example, a request for a website update from a customer can be fed to a support team using Jira Service Management. Designs and copy can be created by marketers, writers, and designers collaborating in Jira Work Management, and those updates can be passed to the web developers using Jira Software to implement. Having everybody collaborate using the same toolset is essential for smooth teamwork between distributed teams.

So let’s find out how Jira Work Management can get business teams and software teams working together digitally.

No one mention Jira Core

First off, let us say straight up that Jira Work Management is basically just Jira Core with some fancy new features.

Oh. You’ve never heard of Jira Core? That’s not surprising. Probably 90% of Jira users haven’t either.

Jira Core was a bit of a dumb-dumb, if we’re honest. This image from The Jira Guy sums it up nicely.

Image showing that Jira Core is a bit of a stupid

Jira Core was Atlassian’s first attempt at attracting business teams like HR, marketing, and finance. Unfortunately, it was just Jira Software-lite. Business projects in Jira Core weren’t really business projects but software projects missing a few features. If a business team came to us wanting to manage their work in a more agile way, we pretended Jira Core didn’t exist and recommended Jira Software, just so they’d have access to more (and better) features. But then, Jira Core was never really targeted at teams trying to be agile in a non-software context anyway.

Jira Work Management, on the other hand, is. It’s designed to facilitate agile collaboration across the enterprise, to enable business and software teams to all speak the same language. And it’s the new features that have been added that are crucial to making this happen.

New templates for business teams

Our top goal here at Old Street Solutions is to make Atlassian software easier and more intuitive to use for business teams. In other words, we aim our products at people who can’t/don’t want to use coding and hacks to get stuff done. Atlassian launched Jira Work Management with the same intention. The hope is that business teams will come out of their silos and work more closely with the development teams. This makes a lot of sense considering that so many businesses these days are software businesses, and therefore every team is affected by what the dev teams are doing.

To that end, Atlassian has reworked the platform and added functionality tailored specifically to what business teams really need. The most obvious way they have done this is by creating a series of business project templates. These templates come with workflows and configurations for particular kinds of teams and projects, including custom fields, issue types, and permissions. This speeds up new project creation and means you’re not starting from scratch when trying to onboard the legal team, or the HR department, or any other team within your organization.

Currently there are 23 templates broken down into Project Management, Marketing, Human Resources, Finance, Legal, Personal, Operations, and Sales. They include:

  • Content Management (Marketing)
  • Procurement (Operations)
  • Sales Pipeline (Sales)
  • New Employee Onboarding (HR)
  • Personal Task Tracking (Personal)
Screenshot of Jira Work Management Project Templates

Atlassian has created these templates based on industry research and the most common use cases they have found. Importantly, though, each template is customizable, so they can be tweaked to fit an individual organization’s or team’s needs.

New data visualization and reporting options for business teams

In addition to the templates, the other major added functionality within Jira Work Management is the variety of new views it offers teams to enter, visualize, and manipulate their data.

Let’s walk through these new views.

Jira List View

Screenshot of Jira Work Management List View

Atlassian has made this feature for those people who just can’t let go of Excel for their project management. Now they don’t really have to, because the List view organizes your project’s issues into a spreadsheet-like interface. You can reassign a task, change the description, or alter the due date simply by editing inline. Super important is the fact that any changes you make when sorting or filtering in List view is specific to your account, so won’t mess up anyone else’s filtering.

Jira Timeline View

The Timeline view is a refinement of the traditional Gantt chart. You can use it to visualize and plan the timing and sequence of your issues, and highlight connections and dependencies between workflows and tasks. The bars show the issue’s start date, due date, and assignee, and the bar colors represent the issue’s status – grey for “to do”, blue for “in progress”, and green for “completed”.

In addition, you can report your timeline to a non-Jira user by exporting the whole thing as an image and inserting it into an email or Confluence page.

Jira Calendar View

The Calendar view clarifies how issues relate to each other and your team in a given week. It provides teams with a better view of their deadlines and allows them to update work in an easily understood format so that they can plan more quickly and efficiently.

Jira Board View

Screenshot of Jira Work Management Board View

The Board view displays work items in the logical sequence of a workflow and allows you to track them to completion. Although it’s a stripped-down version of the Kanban board from Jira Software, it is still a great way of keeping track of which issues are in what status. The availability of agile boards is one of the reasons we used to recommend software projects in Jira Software instead of business projects in Jira Core for business teams trying to be more agile. So we’re thrilled that an agile board has made the jump to Jira Work Management.

Jira Reports and Dashboards

In terms of actual reports, Jira Work Management has exactly the same reports that Jira Core had. However, since many of you may have never heard of Jira Core, let’s pretend they’re new and walk through them.

First, the reports are grouped into three categories: Issue Analysis, Forecast & Management, and Other (helpful category, we know).

The reports available in Issue Analysis are:

  • Average Age Report (shows the average age of unresolved issues for a project or filter so you can see whether your backlog is being kept up to date)
  • Created versus Resolved Report (maps issues that have been created and resolved over a period of time so you can see if your backlog is growing or shrinking)
  • Pie Chart Report (gives you an at-a-glance view of the issues for a project/filter grouped by a specified field)
  • Recently Created Issues Report (shows the number of issues created over a period of time and how many were resolved, so you can understand if your team is keeping up with incoming work)
  • Resolution Time Report (shows the length of time taken to resolve a set of issues so you can identify trends)
  • Single Level Group By Report (shows issues grouped by a particular field for a filter, so you can group search results and see the overall status of each group)
  • Time Since Issues Report (maps issues against the date that a chosen field such as “Created”, “Updated” or “Due” was set).

The reports available in Forecast & Management are:

  • Time Tracking Report (shows original and current time estimates for issues in the current project, so you can see whether work is on track)
  • User Workload Report (shows time estimates for unresolved issues assigned to a user so you can understand their workload better)
  • Version Workload Report (shows time estimates for unresolved issues assigned to a version, so you can understand what work remains).

The final report, listed under Other, is:

  • Workload Pie Chart Report (displays the relative workload for assignees in a particular project or issue filter as a pie chart).

Jira dashboards

The other major reporting option in Jira Work Management (as in Jira Software and Jira Service Management) is the Jira dashboard. Jira dashboards are made up of reports called gadgets and these are what you see when you open up Jira Work Management. In effect, dashboards save you from going into an individual project and configuring a report one by one. They allow you to consolidate data from every Jira project across the whole company in one place.

We’re serious Jira dashboard superfans here at Old Street Solutions. We love them so much we created an app called Custom Charts for Jira to make better and more dynamic (not to mention prettier) charts and graphs to display on them. Custom Charts effectively makes your dashboards even more useful than they already are. In a future article, we will talk in more detail about the benefits that Custom Charts can offer Jira Work Management users.

Future reports

Atlassian has said that in their short-term roadmap they are expecting to release “optimized reporting capabilities for deeper insights”. We’re looking forward to seeing what those are!

Other new features in Jira Work Management

To make things easier for business teams, Atlassian has changed some of the language around tickets. “Stories” and “bugs”, which are more relevant to developers, don’t exist in Jira Work Management unless you add them yourself. Instead, Jira Work Management uses “tasks”, “assets” (for design use cases) and “candidates” (for recruiting cases).

And another very nice new feature in Jira Work Management is Forms. This is like the portal in Jira Service Management and makes coordinating projects with cross-team requirements a lot simpler. Basically you create a request form (which is very easy – it’s just drag and drop) and then you can collect requests and information from other teams in your organization. For example, a form could be used to request an image or piece of copy from the marketing team, or new items and inventory from the operations team.

So is Jira Work Management going to be the thing every business team ever wanted?

The problem with Jira Core is that Atlassian didn’t put enough thought into it. With Jira Work Management, they’ve defined what business teams really need and reworked the platform to accommodate. And they’ve made the prospect of business teams becoming as agile as their development counterparts a very real possibility.

In addition to the lovely new features that should prove particularly useful to business teams, the great thing about Jira Work Management is the flatness of its learning curve. The intuitive design and ready-made templates allow teams to start working on joint projects immediately and without any training. Even in the event of uncertainty, the platform comes with a helpful “Jira Wizard” to guide new users through it.

Jira Work Management does exactly what we, at Old Street Solutions, have been pushing Atlassian to do better for years, which is to make software that everybody can use. That fact in itself will likely lead to much higher adoption of Jira among business teams.

Best of all, Jira Work Management is set to make organizations more harmonious than they are currently, by allowing business teams to collaborate with software teams and see how each team’s work impacts the other. In the age of the distributed team, that’s an absolute must-have.

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.