You just went through the love-it-hate-it weekly status meeting and all of the stakeholders were there: dev lead, operations, testing, support and so on.
Meeting minutes followed of course.
What's in here?
- The usual, comical approach to status meetings, and how dashboards can bring an end to the suffering.
- Why Jira dashboards are great, but also what their limitations are.
- What basic aspects one should consider when building their dream dashboard.
- Link to an article that showcases the types of reports available in Jira + the different gadgets you can add to customize your dashboard.
What’s in a weekly status meeting?
- Status report
- Release schedule - probably in Powerpoint
- Team summaries
- Actions (who, when, status) - probably in Excel
- Deployment summary
- Bugs - probably in Jira
- Comparison report (resolved bugs: before and now for example) - probably in Excel and Jira
All in all, it's a lot of copy-pasted info; it’s confusing, frustrating and all over the place. And as you get close to going live with your release, you start having 3 of those meetings per week.
Fun, fun, fun.
What management does for project status reports
Often, what will happen is that management finds some fancy reporting template that they’ll make everyone fill on a weekly basis. The reports that get shared during weekly status meetings are either sent by email or shared folder, while the weekly report is stored for management.
Management then complains that people aren’t filling the report templates, and might throw the “performance review” card to get results. So you end up with a lucky person 😀 going around, asking for the reports, and then one day as the company decides to take on a new shared file system, ‘pouf’ the reports are gone. Just like that.
How about replacing this messy business with a Jira dashboard?
We know that for some, spreadsheets are the best thing to ever happen on earth, but it’s really not the best option; what you want is a release management tool. Yes, there are quite a few tools available to use but they’re not native to Jira - which means a whole lot of extra work: procurement, configuration, installation, training and so on.
The dashboard is the first thing you see when you log into Jira, and whatever gadgets you’ve displayed there will give you a view of the statistics you’re looking for; the idea is to centralize your reporting.
How are Jira dashboards great?
Jira reporting can be a bit of a pain, true, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just that many organizations have pretty much done reporting the same way they always have, instead of using whatever tools are available.
And yes, you could work with a very affordable Jira plugin to make your life easier - we do have a great recommendation and it’s called Swanly, a super simple, easy-to-use release management roadmap timeline. But aside from that, what you could do is build a live release dashboard in Jira, and aggregate all of the release information you need in there.
To be fair...
What are Jira dashboard limitations?
Just like with everything in life, there are some limitations/difficulties you might come across while building the dashboard of your dreams.
1. Jira is engineering centric
Users have commented that the Jira interface isn’t easily understandable (not intuitive enough) for new users to explore by themselves; features that are "on" by default can be overwhelming to users who are new to Jira.
Possible solution: you could opt for pre-built dashboards, but that might not be suitable for all stakeholders.
2. Learning curve can be steep
Jira usually requires a fair amount of training in order to most effectively and optimally use it; a lot of it comes with time and experience.
Possible solution: add a dashboard help section based on the type of user coming in, as well as 101 guides and tutorials for novice users. Don’t forget to define every gadget.
3. Too many ways isn’t always a good thing
With so many features available in a single app, one can get tricked into wasting time creating overcomplicated workflows.
Possible solution: try to keep things simple; maybe align on the goal before trying to create a solution and if the workflow is too complex, ask a Jira expert for help.
4. Customization can be a headache
Customizing your dashboard for the first time can be hard; the same goes for reporting. UI/UX could definitely be improved to offer more aesthetically pleasing customization options.
Possible solution: you could go the other way and use a plugin that will build your dashboard for you, with compartmentalized reporting. Swanly is pretty and easy-to-use as it fragments your data for you in a way that everyone can understand; so you don’t spend time figuring things out.
Plus, it has dark mode.
What’s the recommendation then?
Bottom line is, someone is going to have to build this dashboard; and yes, it’s probably going to take some time, but that is just a one-time effort and it’s really worth it! Make sure that this special someone absolutely knows the ins and outs of Jira; there’s really so much you can do with what’s available.
What to consider when building a Jira dashboard?
Now that our expert is ready to put together THE dashboard that will save everyone from a life of messy reporting, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Prioritize 3 to 6 gadgets that will most be accessed; keeping in mind that the items you do want on your dashboard are the ones most useful to you. And once you’ve decided on the gadgets you want, you’ll then be able to use them in daily standups, retro meetings and of course, status update meetings!
- Define your objective and your audience; in this case, you’re taking various stakeholders into consideration. Also, individual users can create personal dashboards with the work that is specifically assigned to them.
- Choose the types of charts you’ll be using to present the data for various stakeholders. Thing is, Jira dashboards will allow you to walk into a status meeting, knowing what’s going on. You’ll be able to identify bottlenecks and be aware of things as they happen, like the oh-so-sudden bug fix pile!
- Arrange your data in a way that makes sense to how it’s being used; your important KPIs should, for example, go at the top of the page, followed by the supporting data. This might require a few attempts as you try to find the dashboard that fits well with your team and stakeholders.
- Ask for feedback from whomever will be using this, and once finalized, make sure to tell everyone about it. Keep on iterating until you find the one.
Jira is all about centralized information, collaboration and efficiency, so why not make the most out of one of its key features: a dashboard you can play with to suit your needs and everyone else’s.
For more on the types of reports you'll find in Jira, or the dashboard gadgets you can play with, this is an extensive article by Atlassian!