Everything you Need to Know about Jira Dashboards
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Jira dashboards have been designed to provide a quick overview of everything teams working in Jira need to know at a glance. Setting up your Jira dashboards properly is crucial to getting the most out of the tool, and everyone on the same page.
This article was inspired by a blog on Jira dashboards by iDalko. I’d strongly recommend you follow them to learn about tips and tricks for making useful Jira dashboards.
Why Use 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 dashboard will be the first thing you see. Every “window” on that home page can be customized as an editable gadget.
You could make a dashboard per project, or have a broad generic overview summarising system information across the Jira instance. Setting up this dashboard properly will provide really useful information as the default view for everyone in your organization.
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 that any dashboard can benefit from are:
Two Dimensional Filter Statistics
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.
There are some limitations to this built-in gadget (e.g. the colors and ordering can’t be changed). Additional gadgets can be added through the Atlassian Marketplace which 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.
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.
Creating Dashboards in Jira
1. Dashboards Summarize Your Jira data
When creating a new Jira dashboard it is important to define who the audience is and what information will be displayed. It might be that you want to show the progress of a particular team in a particular sprint, or maybe a multi-project overview of the whole company. Both can be built, but it is good to decide before you start which one it’s going to be!
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.
2. Create a Jira Dashboard
It’s easy to create a new dashboard from anywhere Jira.
On Jira Cloud, simply click the “Dashboards” button in the top navigation bar and select “Create dashboard”.
Jira Server & Data Center
On Jira Server & Data Center, you will need to click the same “Dashboards” button and select “Manage Dashboards” option, then select the “Create new dashboard” button on the top right of the page.
If you don’t want to start from a blank dashboard but instead want to copy an existing dashboard you can select “Copy dashboard” from the (…) menu on the top right of all dashboards.
3. Choose Your Jira Dashboard Layout
The dashboard layout options on Jira are pretty simple with only five to choose from. The reason for this is that gadgets have a fixed width, but a variable height, so they are effectively one-dimensional columns side by side displaying dynamic 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. A rule of thumb is to aim for no more than 6 gadgets to a single dashboard.
How to use Jira Dashboards
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’d 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 at the top right of the screen, and then choose which one you’d like to use.
Note: It can take a few seconds for all of the available gadgets to appear. Click the “Load all gadgets” button (highlighted on the image) to ensure the full list is loaded.
Examples of Jira Dashboard Gadgets
Built-in Jira dashboard gadgets
Jira comes with a number of built-in gadgets that can be used to provide your teams with an overview of your data right away.
Created vs Resolved Jira 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:
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.
Additional Jira Dashboard Gadgets for agile teams:
While these reports are available at the individual project level, adding them to a dashboard 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.
For an even clearer indication of the sprint health, use the dedicated Sprint Health Gadget to show specific metrics including time elapsed, work complete and scope changes.
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.
An example of a Jira dashboard built for a support team makes use of additional gadgets provided by the Custom Charts for Jira Reports app.
For much more complex big data reporting there are other tools available such as EazyBi which can create incredibly detailed reports, but this requires learning a custom scripting language.
Idalko’s Pivot Gadget gives the functionality of spreadsheets to your Jira dashboards.
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.
Other popular gadgets available via Atlassian Marketplace include the Gauge Gadget which allows quick visualizations of issues on very simple displays.
Jira Dashboards - Frequently Asked Questions
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.
How to 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 practise 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Making Jira Information Radiators
Want to keep your team focused and productive? Promote transparency and accountability among the team members? Show off their success to other staff and visitors? Enter Jira Information Radiators.
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.
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).
Plug your computer into a TV monitor.
Go to Dashboards > View all dashboards.
Choose your dashboard from the sidebar.
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.
Follow the steps above but when clicking the More menu, select Set up wallboard slideshow.
Select which dashboards you want to be part of the slideshow.
Check the box if you want the gadgets to display in a random order.
Choose how you want each gadget to transition into the next.
Select how long you want each gadget to display.
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’.
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.