SaaSJet vs Custom Charts for Tracking Time in Status in Jira

A few weeks ago we wrote an article encouraging you not to buy a dedicated time in status Jira reporting app, because Custom Charts for Jira and Confluence has a time in status feature.

Perhaps we weren’t being entirely fair. We said you wouldn’t need a dedicated time in status app because we couldn’t think of any use cases for it.

Then SaaSJet, one of the app makers we name-dropped, rightly informed us on LinkedIn that, actually, there are use cases for their time in status app. Their app also has advantages over Custom Charts if you need certain information about time in status.

So what we’re going to do this time is look at how the two apps perform in six categories:

  • General Jira reporting
  • Depth of information
  • Usability
  • Chart customization
  • Table customization
  • Sharing reports

That way, you can make a fully informed decision about what information you need and what app would be best to deliver it.

Let’s dig in!

General Jira reporting

We can’t get away from the fact that Custom Charts for Jira and Confluence is a general Jira reporting tool that lets you visualize dozens and dozens of metrics. Time in status is just one of them. As stated in our last article, with Custom Charts you can report on everything from sprint progress and velocity to service-level agreement (SLA) performance to project health. And it puts all of these metrics in one place: your Jira dashboard or Confluence page, for a quick, at-a-glance review of how everything’s going.

Agile Team Dashboard

SaaSJet’s Time in Status app is dedicated to providing in-depth information on the time Jira issues spend in particular statuses, in order to aid workflow improvement. It’s not designed or meant for quick overviews of general progress on tasks and projects.

Therefore, if a quick overview of everything that’s going on across all your teams is what you’re after, Custom Charts is the app you need.

Winner: Custom Charts

Depth of information

As mentioned, SaaSJet’s Time in Status app is not about getting a quick, at-a-glance overview. It’s designed for users who want to do a deep-dive analysis of their workflow and where it could be improved.

The difference in how Custom Charts presents Jira information compared to Time in Status is evidenced most by the fact that Time in Status can give you table-based views of individual Jira issues and their time in status data.

Custom Charts doesn’t. Okay, so you can make a 2D table chart that lists individual issues and their time in status (by charting by “key” and grouping by “time in status”). However, it’s not the easiest chart to decipher because you can’t tell what the issue is from just the key. And this is basically as far as you can go in terms of showing time in status data on individual issues in Custom Charts.

Time in Status Per Issue Table in Custom Charts

That’s because Custom Charts is not designed to present data on individual issues. Sure, we have an Issue List gadget if you do need to see some of your issues on your dashboard (although you can’t see any time in status data with Issue List).

But Custom Charts is a data visualization app first and foremost. This means it aggregates your issues by project, sprint, component, assignee, epic etc. so that you can see progress in chart form. It’s for quick status meetings, in which a Scrum Master, product owner, or business manager can present a general overview of how a team is performing, whether they’ll deliver on time, and what problems they may be encountering. It’s not for analyzing one issue at a time.

Time in Status can aggregate issues as well, so that you can see time metrics such as average time in status during a specified time period, or time in status of a parent issue like an epic. But in general it has a completely different purpose. It allows you to go much deeper on individual issues to answer questions like:

  • How many times have different issues been in, and moved between, statuses? If issues have been in the same status several times, it could be because of a change of assignees or change in scope. Both these things interrupt workflows and should be further investigated.
  • How long are issues spending in each status while assigned to a specific user? One of the things this can indicate is which assignees are most efficient at handling tasks.
  • How long are tasks spending in each status on specific dates? This lets you evaluate the intensity of a team’s work daily and see which days had the most activity.
Screenshot of SaaSJet's Time in Status app

Custom Charts doesn’t give you this level of detail, which makes Time in Status the clear winner.

Winner: Time in Status

Usability

Both Custom Charts and Time in Status are Jira-native apps, so for a typical user, both look less like apps and more like Jira has just added new features.

Time in Status, by its nature, is more complicated to use because a large amount of functionality is required to provide such a deep dive into your data. It does mean that it’s not very clear at a glance where everything is or how it works. There is a quick tips feature and a product tour that can help, although most newbies will probably have to spend some time studying the documentation.

Custom Charts, on the other hand, is a ‘plug in and play’ app. The interface lets you build a chart in a few seconds using dropdowns and drag and drop. You’d probably need a demo or to look at some blogs or documentation if you want to show certain metrics, but you can also make a very quick chart of your team’s progress just by spending a few minutes looking around the app.

Therefore, on usability, Custom Charts wins.

Winner: Custom Charts

Chart customization

As mentioned earlier, SaaSJet’s Time in Status app will aggregate issues for certain purposes. One of those purposes is so that you can see your data in charts. One of the things we weren’t fair about in our last article is that we said SaaSJet’s reports were tables and grids only. But Time in Status does have charts. In fact, all of the Time in Status reports can be aggregated to create charts. Time in Status offers four types: pie, area, bar, and sunburst charts.

However, while you can choose the metrics your charts report on, you can’t then make any alterations to the charts themselves. So you can’t change colors, show/hide data points, combine data points, customize the legend, add descriptions, change titles and labels etc.

As Custom Charts is about telling visual stories with your data, you can do all these things. You have a lot of freedom over how your charts display so that you can tell a data story that’s fully tailored to the needs of your audience. For example, you may want to use color to emphasize priority or urgency, and you may want to add a description to give the chart extra context.

Cross-Team Release Burndown in Custom Charts

This makes Custom Charts much more powerful in this category.

Winner: Custom Charts

Table customization

Custom Charts is about data visualization. It’s a way of getting an audience to engage with data quickly. This is something you can’t do with tables and grids.

Tables and grids serve a different purpose. They are for investigating what’s going on and why in more detail, and this is exactly what Time in Status is designed for. Therefore, its grids and tables are fully customizable. You can use one of the app’s default reports, or you can create your own.

You can use the column manager to enable or disable the display of issue fields, add or subtract specific values of status duration in the calculation, and create a status group to calculate lead time, time to resolution, time to market etc. You can also use the pivot table view to aggregate your issues, perform calculations on them, and highlight patterns and trends in the data.

And so Time in Status wins this one.

Winner: Time in Status

Screenshot of SaaSJet Time in Status

Sharing reports

Because SaaSJet’s Time in Status app doesn’t allow customized charts, the app integrates with a variety of other tools. This allows you to share time in status reports from SaaSJet’s app in applications such as PowerBI, Qlik, and Google Sheets.

In effect, you can share live time in status reports externally very easily in whatever application you use, and you can visualize the data using that app’s capabilities.

You’re more restricted with Custom Charts. At present, Custom Charts are only shareable with other Jira users; Confluence users if you have the Confluence version of the app; and Jira Service Management (JSM) customers using a JSM portal. You can also export a chart as a PDF but this would be a static image, not a live report.

So Time in Status wins this category.

Winner: Time in Status

To summarize…

CategoryWinner
General Jira reportingCustom Charts
Depth of informationTime in Status
UsabilityCustom Charts
Chart customizationCustom Charts
Table customizationTime in Status
Sharing reportsTime in Status

And the real winner is…

Well, that depends on what you need!

The main difference between these two apps is:

  • Time in Status is for deep-dive analysis and investigation of time in status data with a view to finding blockers and refining workflows.
  • Custom Charts is for visualizing all kinds of project management metrics but at a higher, broader level, allowing teams to spot trends quickly and identify things that need further investigating.

To be honest, it could be that you need both. Use Custom Charts to find out what needs investigating, and Time in Status to do the investigating.

In other words, analogy fans, Custom Charts is the beat cop, Time in Status is the detective. :smile:

Try Custom Charts free on the Atlassian Marketplace
Try Time in Status free on the Atlassian Marketplace

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.