Guide: Utilizing JIRA Software for Agile Project Control
In our earlier tutorial on JIRA Administration, we detailed JIRA User and Admin Management topics.
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The Agile method for software creation has recently become considerably popular. The JIRA tool is compatible with Agile Software Development methodologies like Scrum and Kanban.
JIRA Agile boards and reports allow you to plan and monitor all Agile Project control duties using a single instrument.
Agile Projects adopt an incremental system for requirements creation.
The defining aspects of an Agile/Scrum Project include:
- Requirements are agreed upon and assembled into a Product Backlog
- Requirements (User Stories) are ranked based on their significance to the business
- Once ranked, the stories are allocated to development cycles (Sprints) lasting about 4-6 weeks.
- Detailed documentation is reduced. Instead, a scrum board is used to indicate the status and progress.
JIRA offers full support for all the above-mentioned activities for projects adopting an Agile Methodology. Let’s delve into this.
Note: Firstly, if you have not done so already, you should install the JIRA Agile add-on.
In JIRA, User stories are created using JIRA Issues:
- You can compile a product backlog by creating a primary User story and adding multiple sub-tasks under it.
- Alternatively, you can create an Issue type known as ‘Epic’ and connect ‘Story’ issue types to it. To do this, navigate to the “Create Issue” page, click on “Configure Fields,” and select the “Epic Link” field to be included in the issue creation screen. This is the most commonly adopted approach.
Note: Linking an Epic to another Epic is not possible.
The Scrum board is another vital component of an Agile Project. JIRA offers a robust backbone for it. This feature is known as a “Board,” which can be located under the “Agile” menu item. (This menu option will only appear if you have installed the JIRA Agile add-on, formerly ‘GreenHopper’)
Main JIRA Features for Implementing Agile Processes
Feature #1: Users are able to create and govern boards in Agile mode. It showcases issues from one or multiple projects to oversee progress all in one place.
Feature #2: In JIRA Agile, there are two kinds of boards. The function of each type is elaborated in the ensuing window. After choosing the apt board, follow the steps to construct it. You’ll need to select the projects whose issues should be considered. This article primarily discusses the Scrum board.
Feature #3: Upon building a board, you can adjust it as per your needs. There are two modes: Plan and Work. In Plan mode, you can categorize your requirements (stories) into Sprints. In Work mode, you can trace the time spent and overall progress. Moreover, you can create several reports.
Feature #4: Plan Mode
The Planning mode appears like the following:
- The Planning mode exhibits all the user stories built for the project.
- You can utilize the menu on the left side to decide how the issues should be displayed. You can opt to view all the issues or only those pertaining to a specific Epic.
- You can alter the order of the issues in the backlog by simply dragging them up or down.
- By clicking on an issue in the right-hand side menu, you can form links, subtasks, comments, and execute other activities just as with a normal issue.
- If you possess the right permissions, you can also construct a sprint from this screen.
Feature #5: Work Mode
In this mode, the Active sprint data is shown. All the user stories are classified as Todo, In Progress, and Done to provide a clear depiction of the progress.
Feature #6: Agile Reports
Navigate to Agile Board->Reports. As illustrated, JIRA offers several custom Agile Reports that can be made. You only need to elect the report you desire and specify the data for the report generation. (Click to enlarge the image)
Feature #7: Board Management
If you hold the correct permissions or if you are an admin, you can customize a Board after it’s created. To do this, go to “Agile->Manage Boards.” On the ensuing screen, choose the “Configure” option next to the board you wish to modify from the list of existing boards. (Click on the image to enlarge it)
On the following page, you can specify/edit the details as needed:
This concludes the tutorial on how to use JIRA effectively for Agile Projects.
In my view, when used correctly, this tool can offer solid support for the Agile methodology. JIRA can function as a comprehensive platform to consolidate everything in one place, considering Agile minimizes documentation.
But, how does JIRA Agile benefit testers?
Frankly, for the QA community, the main purpose of JIRA remains as bug tracking or task tracking, irrespective of whether the projects are Agile or otherwise. However, having comprehensive understanding of this methodology and the tool’s support is key as the IT industry is increasingly leaning towards Agile. We should aim to garner comprehensive knowledge to maximize its utilization.
Feel free to share your queries and comments below.
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