How you choose to aggregate and abstract information from Jira Software is a personal decision. Some people rely on agile boards, while others like to use a wallboard on a TV screen. But as agile teams change (i.e., get smaller, embed QA, and become more distributed), it’s increasingly important to track your own work while understanding what the rest of your team is working on and how the team as a whole is doing.
The solution? Dashboards. You can assemble a dashboard in minutes (if not seconds), change it on the fly, and use it to get a high-level overview and/or granular view into the progress of you and your team’s day-to-day work. Plus, they’re great for any member of a software team, regardless of role.
Keep reading to learn how to set up an agile dashboard for yourself or your team using Jira Software, and how different gadgets – the building blocks of a dashboard – can help you manage projects, assignments, and milestones.
How to set up an agile dashboard in Jira Software
Dashboards in Jira Software present data through gadgets to help you track progress toward goals in real time. The ability to track the progress of a project, sprint, or issue is important for succeeding with agile, so we made setting up a dashboard simple and available to anyone. Here are five steps to help you get started:
- Step 1: Go to Dashboards in the top nav bar, select Manage Dashboards and press Create Dashboard from the button in the upper right hand corner of your screen. (Or there is the Copy Dashboard option if you want to copy the dashboard that you’re currently viewing if applicable.)
- Step 2: Name and describe your dashboard. For teams it makes sense to name it after a project, team name, or something everyone on the team can easily identify. An individual can name the dashboard whatever they want. (For example, my dashboard is called “Laura’s Dashboard”.)
- Step 3: Fill out the rest of the information that you see fit. Do you want this dashboard to be a favorite? If yes, click on the star icon, so it always shows up in your dashboard dropdown. Do you want everyone to have access to this dashboard? You can share with everyone, a group, or project.
- Step 4: Click Add!
- Step 5: Select your dashboard from the Manage Dashboards section and begin to add gadgets.
Choosing your dashboard layout and gadgets
Dashboard tips and tricks for developers
A personalized dashboard is a powerful tool for the individual, and developers or designers in particular. It’s something that can be assembled yourself and you can iterate on quickly (e.g. you might start out with three columns because you want to include as many gadgets as possible, but you quickly realize that to see a chart presented bigger and with more detail its better to opt for two).
Teams can iterate on their Jira dashboard each sprint, or each year – whatever works.
To pick out your layout click the Edit Layout button on your dashboard. There you can choose one of the five layout options – for first-timers we suggest you start with the default of two columns. Next, click on Add a new gadget to start customizing your dashboard. Gadgets are where it gets personal, and there is no one-size-fits-all group of gadgets to use. Each gadget provides different pieces of information about your project.
One gadget that we find most useful for individuals is called the “Assigned to Me” gadget, which displays all unresolved issues assigned to you. You can take action on issues that populate in this list, like moving them to a different status, or commenting by clicking on the the ellipsis (…) icon. This is particularly helpful if you want to go through your list of tasks at the end of a day or week, to make sure that the status is most up-to-date.
Pro tip: The “Activity Stream” is another gadget perfect for an individual’s dashboard. You can add any global filter to pull in activities on issues that you want keep track of. To keep your feed from being overwhelming, we recommend that you limit the number of items to between five and ten. Plus, if you’re more interested in team activity you can set up the global filter to pull in your entire team’s activity.
Dashboard tips and tricks for product managers, developer managers, scrum masters
Whereas a developer is interested in the work that they are responsible for during a sprint or in that particular moment, product managers, developer managers, etc. need to keep track of all things in flight. A gadget popular among product managers is the “Two Dimensional Filter Statistics” gadget. It’s most commonly used to configure a data set that shows areas of concern by plotting two different data points against one another. For example, if you want to look at all open issues for a particular project you can create a filter to see who open issues are assigned to and their priority.
Other gadgets that track the progress of a team’s work are the “Sprint Health” and “Burndown Chart” gadgets. Whereas the Burndown Chart uses estimates to show how the team is tracking against a predicted burndown line, the “Sprint Health” gadget breaks down work into a progress bar with percentages for time lapsed, work completed, scope change, number of blockers, and number of issues flagged.
This example shows a sprint with a huge amount of scope change (tsk-tsk!). As a result, only 16% of the predicted work was completed. The “Sprint Health” gadget is meant to combat this faux pas by getting the team’s attention when work completed is not inching towards 100%. For a development manager this is a (literal) red flag to investigate the cause of the scope creep.
It’s the visualization of data like this that can help product or development managers see aggregated information from a scrum board – e.g. how on-track a sprint or project is from a bird’s eye view.
Share the agile dashboard love
Finally, dashboards can be shared with the entire team in different ways. The easiest way is to enable the dashboard to be shared with the team when you set it up by sharing it with everyone, a group, or project. This way team members can mark it as a favorite in their dropdown.
You can also turn your dashboard into a wallboard by clicking on the Tools icon in the upper right hand corner and selecting View as Wallboard. Have too many gadgets? Select Set Up Wallboard Slideshow to control which gadgets to rotate and for how long.
Pro tip: Wallboards change gadgets to a black background with bigger text for higher visibility. This is particularly helpful for teams that stream their wallboards on TV screens. At Atlassian we consider our wallboards to be information radiators. Thanks to the awareness wallboards bring, teams can act immediately on things that may make or break their sprint.
Common gadgets see on team dashboards and wallboards around Atlassian range from the “Sprint Health” gadget to the “Days Remaining in Sprint” gadget (which calls out the number of days with one HUGE number) to displaying a list of all plans on a Bamboo server and the status of each plan. If a build is in the red on your wallboard, it’s a friendly – though glaring – reminder to everyone on the team that work needs to be done to fix them. There is almost an element of gamification by putting all of this information out in the open; no one wants to be in the red and to be running out of time. (Note: there is also an “Agile Wallboard Gadget” that adds boards to your dashboard with Quick Filters that you select.)
Your issues, your Jira Software dashboard
You and your team might gravitate towards using boards or a wallboard as your single source of truth for progress of a project, but to get high-level and granular information about the progress of a sprint or project, building out an agile dashboard in Jira Software is a no-brainer.
The”Sprint Health” gadget is one of the most popular, because it color codes the progress of a sprint and gives you tangible numbers at the same time. And then there’s the ability to set up a rotating wallboard for your team to have visible in their workspace. Above all, like all things Jira Software, dashboards and gadgets are meant to be customizable to bring you the information you most need and visibility into the progress of you and your team’s work.
For more on using Jira to create the perfect agile dashboard for you and your team, click below and check out some of our past posts.