How to Use Reports in Jira – the Basics

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Jira Reporting Basics Header Image

Reports in Jira help teams analyze progress on a project, track issues, manage their time, and predict future performance. They offer critical, real-time insights for Scrum, Kanban, and other agile methodologies, so that data-driven decisions can be made (the very best kind).

Assuming you’re managing projects in Jira, reporting is something you’ll be doing every day. If you don’t have much experience with Jira or you’re using the platform for the first time, this article will help you understand:

  • The value of Jira reports
  • The types/categories of reports that are available in Jira
  • How to access and generate reports in Jira
  • The basic features of Jira reports
  • 3 reports we think are particularly useful for Scrum teams
  • 3 reports we think are particularly useful for Kanban teams

The value of Jira reports

Jira reports help you stay on track of sprint goals, drill down into issues, manage workloads, identify bottlenecks, and ultimately work smarter.

And those are just the reports. There’s also Jira dashboards, another Jira reporting option. These are a way of organizing your projects and tracking your achievements in a single view using dozens of built-in gadgets. Some of these gadgets consist of the same Jira reports from your boards so they’re in one place, like the Created versus Resolved chart and Sprint Burndown. Read more about why Jira dashboards are so useful.

The important thing to remember, though, is that the true value of any report lies in the questions you’re asking it. So first ask what it is you want to measure or find out, then find a report to match.

Your questions will be different at different times because they’ll relate to your team’s experiences in the moment. There’s not much point picking one set of metrics and measuring them forever. You need to change what you measure as the work changes, or as new problems arise, so that you can drive the behaviours that will fix them. Perhaps, for instance, you’re doing too much and need to get your work in progress (WIP) under control, in which case you’ll want to focus on metrics that let you do that.

It’s also worth pointing out that no one size fits all in reporting. Every team will have different needs and questions. That said, there are certainly some typical questions that most agile teams will be asking most of the time…

The sorts of things that agile teams want to know

Here’s a list of questions your team are likely to be asking, grouped under suitable headings. Some are more relevant to Scrum teams (i.e. those to do with sprints) and others more relevant to Kanban. Whatever agile methodology you’re using, most teams are likely to want answers to some or all of the following questions. A little later on, we’ll talk about the best Jira reports for answering them.

Productivity

How much work is being completed per sprint?
How much of our planned work was completed?

Predictability

What’s our variability/consistency?
How well can we plan?

Schedule

Are we on track to complete our sprint goal?
Are we delivering what and when we say we will?

Scope

Is our backlog growing or are we burning it down?

Quality

Are we addressing enough bugs versus stories in each sprint?

Flow

How long does it take us to deliver value?
Where are our bottlenecks?
How well are we managing our WIP?

Types of reports in Jira

The many reports available on Jira boards can be broken down into four main categories:

  1. Agile reports for Scrum teams
  2. Agile reports for Kanban teams
  3. Forecast and management
  4. Issue analysis

Agile reports for Scrum teams are:

  • Sprint Report
  • Burndown Chart
  • Burnup Chart
  • Epic Report
  • Epic Burndown
  • Velocity Chart
  • Version Report
  • Cumulative Flow Diagram

Agile reports for Kanban teams are:

  • Cumulative Flow Diagram
  • Control Chart (but we really hate the Control Chart so that one’s best forgotten about)

Forecast and management reports are:

  • Time Tracking Report
  • User Workload Report
  • Version Workload Report
  • Workload Pie Chart Report (this technically comes under “Other” in Jira, but since it sits philosophically under forecasting and managing, and “Other” means sweet FA to anyone, we’re putting it here)

Issue analysis reports are:

  • Average Age Report
  • Created vs Resolved Issues Chart
  • Pie Chart
  • Recently Created Issues Report
  • Resolution Time Report
  • Single Level Group By Report
  • Time Since Issues Report

Using Reports in Jira – the Basics

The types of reports highlighted above are available from your Scrum and Kanban boards. These reports are generated on demand, so they are always there for any users who can see the board. That also means that your reports are up to date with the information directly from the issues in Jira.

These reports will use whichever estimation statistic your board is based on, so if you’re using Story Points the reports will track progress and completion using those, or if you’ve got a custom number field the reports will be based on that.

Before we highlight our favorite reports, let’s walk through how to generate them.

Steps to Generating and Accessing Reports in Jira

Jira board reports are really easy to access. You can get to them in two ways, depending on how your Jira instance is hosted.

  • Option 1: Click Projects in the navigation bar and select the relevant project. If the project is only associated with one board, you can then click Reports. If the project is associated with multiple boards, you can select from the dropdown before clicking Reports.
  • Option 2 (Server or Data Center only): Click Boards in the navigation bar and select the board you want to look at. Then click Reports.

Remember that Jira reports are board-specific and since boards are driven by saved filters, any report you run is only going to include the issues that match that board’s filter. Once you’ve opened the Reports navigation, you can choose a report from the left panel or from the reports displayed on the screen. On this screen, you’ll see reports such as the Burndown Chart, Control Chart, Velocity Chart, Cumulative Flow Diagram, Sprint Report, and more.

Screenshot of all agile reports

After selecting a specific report, you will be prompted for some information to customize what is shown. Some reports will default to specific values, like showing the current or most recent sprint, others will require a selection before the report is generated.

Basic Features of Jira Reports

While it’s important to understand what information you want to measure before sending a bunch of reports off to your executives, it’s also helpful to know what you’ve got available. To most effectively report on your team’s metrics, you should understand what each report is showing, as well as the most important features of each report generated.

The following are the purposes of the reports that you can access from Jira boards.

Agile Reports in Jira

If you’re a Scrum team and you want to figure out if you’re on track to complete a sprint, epic, or release, Burndown/Burnup Charts are going to be your friends. These charts track how much work is left to be done to complete a goal. Burndowns are a great tool if progress is the key piece of information that you want to report on.

Sprint, Epic, and Version Reports are similar to the Burndown and Burnup Chart, but they are looking to the future. These reports will forecast how many sprints will be required to complete the body of work. These reports use your board’s historical data to calculate velocity (which can also be seen on the Velocity Chart) and make projections using various estimation statistics (Story Points, Estimate, etc.).

Cumulative Flow Diagrams can be useful to both Kanban and Scrum teams. The function of this report is to evaluate the flow of work and identify bottlenecks in your process. This is especially useful to Kanban teams, as flow is arguably their most important metric to consider. However, Scrum teams can suffer from bottlenecks too, making this report useful to everyone.

Forecast and Management Reports in Jira

The Forecast and Management Reports available on your board are focused on time tracking and workload management. These reports will be useful only if your team uses Jira’s native time tracking functionality. Note that these do not look at Story Points or custom estimates outside of the out-of-the-box Original Estimate and Remaining Estimate.

The purpose of these reports is to ensure that your team members are not overloaded with work and to track how your actuals compare to your estimates.

Jira Issue Analysis Reports

The Issue Analysis Reports are unique to board reporting, in that many of them are also available on your Jira dashboards.

Reports like Created vs Resolved, Resolution Time, and Average Age can highlight if more work is coming in than the team is able to complete, or highlight if your backlog is particularly stale.

This category also includes some generic gadgets like Pie Charts, Single Level Group By Reports, and Time Since Issues Report, which are customizable and can be as powerful as your imagination allows (within the bounds of Atlassian’s imagination, at least).

Now let’s look at what we think are the best reports for giving Scrum and Kanban teams day-to-day support.

3 best reports for Scrum teams

Sprint Report

The Sprint Report gives you an instant view of how you’re doing in your sprint in terms of progress and priorities.

It shows the burndown of work: a red line for the actual work done, and a grey line that acts as a guideline based on the total estimated issues at the start of the sprint.

The Sprint Report also gives Scrum teams an excellent insight into their sprint dynamics by listing completed and not-completed issues as well as priorities. You’re able to see if your team is working on the right things in the right order, and whether the scope of the work has changed. This encourages conversations between team members and helps foster whole team ownership, i.e. shared responsibility and accountability for the team’s overall success. We’re particularly fond of the visibility into scope change when it comes to retrospective time, or when stakeholders start asking why work wasn’t completed.

To find out more about why the Sprint Report is so useful for Scrum teams, please read Achieve Whole Team Ownership with Jira Sprint Reports.

Velocity Chart

Screenshot of Jira Velocity Chart

The Velocity Chart is a really helpful tool when sprint planning. It provides a sense of the volume of work you’ll likely accomplish in the upcoming sprint so you can decide how much to commit to.

This simple chart lets you see if you’re overcommitting or undercommitting, or whether your estimates are off. The grey bar shows the planned Story Points in a sprint and the green bar shows the Story Points you’ve actually completed, and ideally they should be the same height.

The Velocity Chart lets you see whether process improvements could be made or requirements should be honed in order to increase reliability in your sprint planning and, consequently, deliver more consistently on your sprint goals.  

To find out more about the Velocity Chart, as well as a very handy little metric not actually available in Jira, please read How to increase confidence in sprint planning with Jira Velocity Charts.

Version Report

Screenshot of Jira Version Report

The Version Report gives you fantastic visibility of your team’s rate of progress on a version and of your delivery timeline.

It shows burnup rather than burndown (like in the Sprint Report). While burndown charts are more popular for their simplicity, burnup charts like this one have the added advantage of showing changes to the scope of the project (the grey area).

The blue line shows how many Story Points are being completed. Where the blue line hits the top of the grey area is your predicted release date for the Fix Version.

Version Reports are great for prompting conversations, early rather than late, about whether you’re likely to deliver on time. To find out more about Jira Version Reports, please read Don’t Miss Delivery Dates with Jira Version Reports.

3 best reports for Kanban teams

Cumulative Flow Diagram

Screenshot of Jira Cumulative Flow Diagram

The Cumulative Flow Diagram is an essential report for Kanban teams. A common misconception is that because a team is running Kanban, they don’t need to do any planning. Although Kanban teams aren’t planning work in sprints like Scrum teams, information like cycle time can tell you how long it takes to complete work. The cycle time is the time it takes to finish a piece of work once it has been started.

The Cumulative Flow Diagram helps visualize this by showing the time that issues are in statuses, represented by the colored areas. This can highlight bottlenecks in your process with a straightforward visual – look for any of the statuses that take up a disproportionate amount of space to see where most of the time is being spent.

It’s not uncommon that issues spend a lot of time just waiting to be worked on. This report can help identify when this is the case, so you can look at whether this is an acceptable delay or an actual bottleneck.

Average Age/Resolution Time

Screenshot of Jira Average Age/Resolution Time report

Similar to cycle time, lead time is also an important metric for Kanban teams. While cycle time measures the time that the work is actually in progress, lead time measures the time between the work being requested and release. Both the Average Age and Resolution Time board reports can provide some insight into this metric.

Lead time is important because it can help you set expectations on when work will be delivered. Setting these expectations based on data gives you a much better chance of avoiding the pain that comes with missed deadlines.

The Average Age report will tell you how long open issues have been open. Similarly, the Resolution Time report tells you how long it took to resolve a ticket. These are two sides of the same coin, the former looking at open tickets and the latter looking at resolved. Both can be useful to see how long work is taking to be completed by the team.

Created vs Resolved

Screenshot of Created Vs Resolved Chart made using Custom Charts
While there is a standard Created vs Resolved chart in native Jira, this one has been generated using our Custom Charts for Jira app, which allows for more customizations

The Created vs Resolved report can help teams figure out if they are keeping up with all of the work that is coming in. This report does exactly what it sounds like it would, showing how many tickets were created and how many tickets were resolved over a specific time period.

This report is useful to get a quick check on whether the team is able to keep up with the work coming in. In an ideal world, the Created line is never too far above Resolved, showing that the team is completing work as it is being requested. If the Created line strays too far above, it may be an indication that the team is not able to keep up with the incoming work. The Created vs Resolved chart can be generated from your board directly or added to dashboards using the native gadget, or apps like Custom Charts for Jira.

The Bottom Line

Reporting is about aiding an organization to achieve and maintain results. All reports should satisfy a goal and have a user, and they should be done at the right frequency with the correct user context. And while no single report can tell you if your team is succeeding or failing, the right combination of reports at the right time can. Start by finding out what your team wants to know about how they are performing. Once you know the metrics you want to measure, find the reports that measure them. Remember, a report in Jira is only as useful as the questions you’re asking it. So if your reports aren’t giving you what you want, you probably need better questions.

Speaking of combining reports, you should consider using Jira dashboards. These enable you to display a combination of up to 20 reports and charts on a single screen (although we recommend a maximum of 6 for optimal usability). With Jira dashboards, you can use Atlassian add-ons like Custom Charts for Jira to create charts and reports that are much more visual and tailored to you and your team than out-of-the-box Jira will allow. (And data visualization is another important consideration when choosing reports, because reports must be engaging and understandable to be effective – but that’s a conversation for another day!)

It’s also important to note that getting your reporting down to an art doesn’t require a data science degree. Built-in Jira reports are very easy to generate and use, and there are Atlassian apps offering all kinds of ways of interacting with data that won’t leave you flustered and befuddled by algorithms and codes.

Chris Cooke CEO Old Street Solutions

Chris founded three successful startups in Thailand: one was a Scuba Diving School/ Eco-Tourism company dedicated to saving turtles. Once he’d saved enough turtles, he moved back to the UK to pursue his dreams in software.

It was while working for the Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner Clearvision that Chris met Jacek. The two decided there was a gap in the market for easier-to-use Atlassian tools for Jira and Confluence users who don’t have a clue how to code (of which there are many).

“If we’re not making mistakes, we’re not trying hard enough.”