Task tracking in the flow

Jira is awesome for task tracking and project management. We’ve made some recent improvements to one of our Jira Projects so my team can better track our time spent.

One of the reasons this is complicated in the first place is that my team, the Sales Engineers, is one of the few teams that spans all 3 global offices – Sydney, San Francisco, and Amsterdam. How do we keep track of everything? How does our boss – and the rest of the company – stay updated?

The majority of our time is spent on what we call ‘the flow’ – we answer technical questions about all our products from customers and evaluators via email, phone, and live chat. We spend about 10% of our time on ‘projects’ like improving customer ‘self-service’ resources (FAQs, Quick Start Guides, etc) and professional development (O’Reilly courses, conferences and seminars, etc). Naturally, we’ve turned to Jira so we can track everything and report on it later – on an individual basis, and on a team level for each quarter.

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The Setup

  • Default workflow (Open > In Progress > Closed)
  • Custom fields = Product (Jira, Confluence, Bamboo, etc) and Department (the other internal departments we collaborate with – marketing, customer service, etc)
  • Components = ongoing resources (reporting/metrics, live sales, self-service)
  • Versions = quarters of our fiscal year
  • Issue types = Task and Objective
    • Objectives are for particular goals we set at the beginning of each quarter.
    • Tasks are for everything else that comes up
  • Everything has an assignee (one member from our team) and a time estimate.
  • We log work against every Objective and Task so we’ll be able to track how accurate our estimates are, and pull reports down the road

Our boss stays updated using the Activity Stream for our project. Activity Streams are a cool new feature in Jira 4.0, and you can find them on the Project page or grab the RSS feed and scroll through whenever you have time.

Reporting on our projects

Our project is handy for tracking work spent on projects that might be handed over to other teams. For example, I spent 1.5 hours on a page for our public wiki detailing how to find your Jira active user count that will in the future be owned and updated by the documentation team. All the history (comments, assignee, etc) stays in the Jira task.

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Logging these tasks and the time spent is also great for planning objectives in the future. For example, I can open my old tasks where I logged the hours spent on a particular video to predict how much time I’ll need to create a new video next quarter.

We can also pull open the project page to see the Road Map (tasks for next quarter and those on our ‘wish list’), a summary of issues created vs resolved, and our progress for the current quarter.

Next up: Complete dashboard in Confluence

Confluence 3.1 was released a few weeks ago, and supports Jira gadgets on a Confluence page. This means we can put project reports, filters and charts all on a single dashboard. We’ll add this to the page our Systems team has already created with our incoming and outgoing email and phone volume to give the entire company a one-stop view with live data about our team.

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