Business Intelligence with Jira

Written by Jens Bormueller of atlasteam.de

The Need for Change Requests in Jira.

Our clients often need to evaluate change requests in Jira, organizing them by year and by state, as well as by department and specialist groups.

Our recommendation? The eazyBI add-on, available for Jira and Confluence on the Atlassian Marketplace. It integrates with a lot of professional software, and is purpose built for such ​​business intelligence.

Using it for some things can be as simple as using a spreadsheet.

Compile fields from Jira as pivot tables and draw them as diagrams. Display the individual diagrams in dashboards.

Getting Started with eazyBI for Jira

Here is the interface for employees to ask for change requests, with a customer portal using JSD, and a linked knowledge database in Confluence.

Change requests are then shown in Jira using the process navigator.

Evaluating Change Requests

As an example, here are the dashboards for evaluating the change requests.

The second diagram from the top shows Change Requests (CRs) by Approver.
It’s easy to create a report using the field “Project” and the Jira custom field “Approver” with a simple drag-and-drop interface to chart by “issue created”, to see the total number of all existing issues, split by row.

Now let’s turn it into a “Pie” diagram.

And now we’re finished, you’re ready to add the chart to the dashboard!

Set up eazyBI so once a night, it will import the data from your Jira, it’ll then be permanently stored for use within eazyBI. This does limit its application for when you want real time reporting (as a CRM, or for Support Desks, and outages), but for more long term trends and developments, they can be continuously updated and represented with new data over time. 

Other diagrams possible are Gantt charts or even the visualization of geodata on a world map. Perform calculations in new columns, such as the number of remaining time left on a project, minus the time available until the delivery deadline.

If you’re interested in Atlassian training, hosting, or licenses, please reach out to the team at atlasteam.de

And thank them for writing this excellent blog.

How Jira Reports Help Onboarding New Team Members

Getting the onboarding process correct is essential when you’re introducing a new team member. It’s the first real impression they have of the inner workings of your organization; a smooth onboarding process not only sets them up for success, but it’s good for the whole team. And yet, for many organizations, this is still considered somewhat of a separate process, one that sits outside of the usual task management, tracking, and reporting work.

By bringing onboarding into a project management tool like Jira (where you’re already tracking your day-to-day projects) you not only make the process simpler — you can gain meaningful insights from customizable reporting, to optimize the onboarding process going forward.

Create Onboarding Tasks in Jira

When it comes to onboarding new team members using Jira, there are some tasks that are likely to be the same for each new joiner. To save time, you can automate the creation of these tasks by using Jira templates or copy tasks and sub-tasks from previous new team members to save time.

One option available on the Atlassian Marketplace for Cloud, Server, and Data Center is Deviniti’s Issue Templates for Jira, check out that link for great tips and tricks on how to set up templates for onboarding new team members.

Another great looking option I found is AppLiger’s Easy Templates for Jira Issues, also available on the Atlassian Marketplace for Cloud, Server, and Data Center.

To get your new team members fully on board and embedded in the team though, you can expand ‘onboarding’ beyond the usual housekeeping requirements. Whether you’ve had a growing wishlist of tasks for a new role throughout the hiring process, or you have handover tasks from a previous employee, including these can make onboarding more meaningful for your new team member, and make it feel more than just a box-ticking exercise. 

Plus your your Jira reports will provide more useful insights — more on this below.

Checking In With Jira’s Reporting Dashboards

Communication is key when it comes to making sure a new team member is engaged and onboard. This should be the main focus of your catch-up meetings — how are they getting on? Are they settling in? As your team gets busy and deadlines near, you want to make the most of that time.

This is where Jira’s reporting dashboards come in. Since reporting dashboards for Jira are highly customizable, you should create a dashboard dedicated to your new joiners.

Use filters to see at a quick glance which tasks are in progress right now; use this to make the “what I’m working on” part of your catch-ups more efficient and give yourself more time to get to know how your new team member works, and how you’ll be working together going forward. This is more important than ever if (like many businesses today) you have more team members working remotely, and may still be adjusting to not being in an office environment.

Onboarding Jira Dashboard search

Customise Jira Reports to

See the Metrics that Matter to You

We mentioned earlier that an effective onboarding process should combine your HR and housekeeping tasks, as well as the first day-to-day tasks you need your new team member to start getting on with. This is where you can really make the most of your ability to customize Jira, and create custom charts for Jira reporting to visualize the metrics that are relevant to you.

Create charts dedicated to displaying different issue types, or filter quickly using Simple Search to see how HR, training or daily tasks are progressing. If you have a more complex onboarding process, you could even create individual dashboards for different issue types — you can make your reports as custom and in-depth as needed!

It’s not just management who will benefit from this visualization, your new team member can see their progress as well, and rest assured that they’re on the right path.

Improve Your Processes

Once your new team member is fully onboarded and settled into the team, it’s tempting to move on from the onboarding process and not consider it again until the next time you have a new joiner. 

Don’t fall into this trap! You’ve already done the hard work — you’ve created your tasks and templates, and with your Jira reporting dashboards, you have all the data you need to evaluate their effectiveness.

If you’re seeing a lot of red, it may be time to take another look at your tasks and processes

You should approach your onboarding process the same way you approach the rest of your work, as something you can continue to improve. Are you seeing consistent blocking points? Perhaps part of your process needs reevaluating, or breaking into smaller stages. 

Are there steps that are running smoothly for all new joiners? What do they have in common, and how can you replicate that success across the rest of the onboarding process?

The smoother the onboarding, the more successful, and the more settled your new team member will be — they’ll feel part of the team in no time. The information is all there within Jira; unlock valuable insights in one step, without needing to export data, with the right Jira dashboards and reporting.

Learn more about Custom Reporting for Jira — or try it out for yourself on the Jira Reporting Playground to see how simple reporting can be!

Is Color Psychology The Key To More Effective Jira Reporting?

When you’re creating charts, in Jira reports, how do you choose your colors? Do you pick whatever looks nice, or do you just go along with whatever your software spits out by default? Perhaps you’re always on brand and make your graphs and charts follow the color scheme of your business?

Treating the color of your charts as an afterthought like this is common: on the face of it, it doesn’t seem that important. But there’s a good deal of science that shows how color can have significant effects on human perception and emotion.

In this article, we’ll look at the science of color psychology and how its findings can help you to create better charts in Jira.

The Taste Test

What better way to kick off a scientific discussion than with a practical demonstration? And as a bonus, this one involves eating sweets. You can do this experiment with most confectionery, such as gummy bears or chewy fruit gums. A popular choice is Skittles with loads of YouTube Videos of people using them for this experiment. 

All you have to do is close your eyes and pop a random Skittle in your mouth. Now try to guess what flavour it is. It’s much harder than you think, without the visual cue of color!

So many flavours, right? Maybe not, because color has a clear, observable influence on the perception of taste.

This has led some people1 to say that Skittles are all the same flavour. Mars Wrigley, (producers of Skittles) vehemently denies this2, claiming that each Skittle has a unique flavour profile.

It’s apparent that the color of these sweets has at least some influence on how people perceive the taste. 

Beyond Skittles: How Color Affects Perception

There have been numerous other studies into the effects of color on perception. It’s been shown, for example, that the color red influences men’s perception on the attractiveness of women, which has been linked to evolutionary indicators, such as the blush of skin.

Men have been shown to be more attracted to women in red, whereas women show no such preference.

Other studies have shown how color can alter the efficacy of medication3, with hues like red, orange and yellow being associated with stimulants, for instance. Greens, purples and greens are generally linked to sedative, hypnotic and anxiolytic drugs. 

It’s also been shown that color can affect the performance of sports teams. The work of Frank and Gilovich4 indicated a link between the color black and perceived aggression, which is supported by the fact that teams who wear black uniforms are more likely to be called up for fouls. On the opposite side of that coin, there’s a certain shade of pink5 that is thought by some to have a calming effect, and which some sports teams experimented with by painting it all over their visitor locker rooms.

As you might expect with anything that has the potential to influence or control behaviour, color psychology has also been of great interest to the marketing industry. As you can perhaps guess, hot colors like red and orange are associated with excitement and impulse buying, while cool colors like blue and green are linked with more carefully thought through purchases. This kind of logic is also often applied to logo design6

So what of the rest of the color spectrum? What other effects have been observed? Here’s a handy chart, from Wikipedia, which summarises some of the apparent effects of color, based on the research to date. 

RedYellowGreenBluePinkViolet/PurpleOrangeBrownBlackWhite
LustCompetenceGood TasteMasculineSophisticationAuthorityWarmthRuggednessGriefHappiness
PowerHappinessEnvyCompetenceSinceritySophisticationExcitementSophisticationSincerity
ExcitementInexpensiveEco-FriendlyHigh qualityFemininePowerExpensivePurity
LoveLow QualityHealthCorporateFear
SpeedReliabilityDeath
Anger

Using Color Psychology In Your Jira Reports

First and foremost, it’s important to point out that we’re not suggesting the color of your charts is more important than their other characteristics. It doesn’t matter what color your charts are if the data is inaccurate or if they’re cluttered and confusing. 

It’s also unlikely that changing the color of your charts is going to have a profound, instant effect on those who view them. If anything, you can probably only expect a subtle effect, perhaps observable over a long period of time. In other words, we’re talking about gentle psychological nudges, not mind control. 

These caveats aside, what can you do in terms of using color in your Jira reports and other charts? First of all, if you’re creating charts in Jira or Confluence, we recommend checking out our Custom Charts app, which, among other things, gives you the ability to customise the colors of your charts in Atlassian software. 

Next, we’d like to point you to the work of data visualisation consultant Stephen Few, who we stumbled across while researching this article. Among other things, Few has come up with nine key rules for how to use color in charts, which you can read here. He covers various issues, such as consistent use of color, avoiding red and green in the same chart because colorblind people will struggle with them, and using bright and/or dark colors to highlight your most important data. 

Our two favourite rules, however, are rules three and four:

Rule 3 

Use color only when needed to serve a particular communication goal.

Rule 4 

Use different colors only when they correspond to differences of meaning in the data.

At the heart of both of these rules is the idea that color shouldn’t be applied to charts just for the sake of it. As Few puts it, “Whenever you’re tempted to add color to a data display, ask yourself these questions: “What purpose will this color serve?” and “Will it serve this purpose effectively?” If the answer is “It serves no useful purpose” or “It serves a purpose, but something other than color or this particular color would do the job better,” avoid using it.”

The upshot of this is that he recommends that if you’re using colors in your charts, you are often better off using just one color. The following bar charts show how you can apply this concept.

Too much customisation of Jira reports is a poor user experience.
Is it just me that gets a visual form of diabetes from looking at a chart like this?

Where you need variation of color, sometimes you’re better off with shades of the same color. Not only does this look better, but it’s easier to then apply the principles color psychology to your charts – whether you’re using Jira reporting or exporting Jira to Excel. These pie charts demonstrate that.

Simplify your Jira reporting, with a clear theme, customize colors that match in the same pallette.
Just because you can now make charts with all the colors of the rainbow, doesn’t mean you should.

Final Thoughts On Color Psychology In Charts

We’ve already pointed to the main limitations of color psychology: the effects of colors on people are subtle at best, and there will also be individual differences from person to person. 

And while there are some colors which seem to have fairly broad associations7 across the world, such as red with passion and black with death, there are also cultural differences8 in how people react to colors. Yellow, for example, is linked with happiness in the UK and the USA, but in Latin America, it’s a color of death and sorrow. These differences might be something you want to take into account if working with foreign business partners or customers. 

There really are no hard and fast rules about how to use color in your charts and in Jira reports. In general, though, less is often more. Begin with that in mind, and acknowledge that the color of your charts actually matters, and you should see some immediate improvements in your charts.

References:

1:https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/01/08/575406711/are-gummy-bear-flavors-just-fooling-our-brains?t=1594912277293

2:https://www.distractify.com/p/are-all-skittles-the-same-flavor

3:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2359128/

4:https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/attitude-check/201610/do-uniform-colors-matter-in-sports

5:https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/jan/10/this-colour-might-change-your-life-kendall-jenner-and-baker-miller-pink

6:https://justcreative.com/2018/02/19/color-psychology-in-logo-design-branding-explained/

7:https://www.globalme.net/blog/colours-across-cultures/

8:https://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586073.001.0001/acprof-9780199586073-chapter-0018

Understand Jira Visualization to Make Better Reports.

You’re putting together a Jira report to present at a meeting. The presentation needs to be full of all kinds of reporting on Jira visualizations – timelines, percentages, and totals. Now, you could just hand over the raw data for your audience to sift through, but the chances are they don’t want that, so you’re not going to do that. You’re hoping to present at one of those rare non-terrible meetings. So instead, you take some of the key data and you turn them into various Jira charts, all designed to support the point you’re making, and hoping they’ll connect the remaining dots themselves.

Why, though? What is it about charts that makes them so effective? Would your presentation lose any punch by not including them? Answer these questions, and you’re on your way to making better charts, avoiding a myriad of potential pitfalls along the way. 

Essentially, charts are pictures (which allegedly speak a thousand words). That’s exactly what charts do: they’re a kind of visual encoding that translates potentially massive amounts of information into a rapidly digestible format. For example, you can use Jira visualization to see in an instant something that could otherwise take much longer to identify. You might even spot a trend or anomaly that would go unnoticed were you to look purely at the raw data. Of course, there may be times when you have to crunch the numbers as they are, but when you’re looking to communicate information quickly and effectively, charts are the way to go.

It’s important that your charts are accurate and not overly complicated. Likewise, choosing the right kind of chart is crucial.

A poorly constructed or chosen chart, rather than making data more accessible, can have the opposite effect, causing confusion and the possible misinterpretation of data. 

To illustrate this, let’s take a look at the pie chart below. Can you identify the third largest portion of the pie? 

Not easy, is it? Of course, it helps when there are only three segments, and you can toggle on the key, but still… For at a glance Jira Visualization, let’s try the same data, in a different type of chart.

Much easier this time, right? That’s because pie charts are best suited to showing the relationship between all the parts that make up a whole, but elsewhere they tend to fall down. In the words of statistician Edward Tufte, “the only design worse than a pie chart is several of them”. A bit harsh, perhaps, but it’s certainly true that pie charts are frequently used in situations they’re just not suited to.

Here’s an example of a terribly confusing chart. If you can read this, you’re probably a Data Scientist!

It’s an easy trap to fall into: pie charts are visually appealing and comfortingly familiar. When you want to show small differences between data points, though, they’re practically useless, unless you include annotations that state the values of each portion – in which case you might as well just present the raw data. 

2 Dimensional Tables in Jira Dashboards.

If you want to make better charts with clearer Visualization of your Jira data, you have to do more than just avoid pie charts. First of all, you have to be sure that what you’re aiming to present is actually worth creating a chart for at all. Sure, you could build a bar chart for two or three units of data, but it’s probably easier and more informative to simply present that data in a table. 

Once you’ve decided that a chart would be genuinely useful, you should consider the pros and cons of different types of charts and choose whatever is truly right for your needs… For example, bar charts, as demonstrated above, are much better than pie charts when it comes to displaying small differences in values. However, they’re not without their own shortcomings: they don’t work well for small sample sizes or for representing continuous data1, such as temperature or time. Other chart types, meanwhile, such as scatter plots and histograms, are much better ways to show things like sample size and distribution of data. 

Funnel Charts for Jira
One of several chart types in Custom Charts for Jira visualization. A funnel chart like this makes it much easier to spot outliers and other anomalous data.

Why Do Some Jira Visualisations Make Better Charts Than Others? 

Humans vision didn’t evolve so we could read charts in PowerPoint presentations. Our eyes, our visual cortex and so on, they were made to help us survive in nature – to spot predators, to identify things that are safe to eat and to help us find our way in the physical world. It seems plausible that our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to interpreting data in charts stem from such adaptations. 

Human perception is built so we can interpret nature, rather than data in charts. Understanding its strengths and weaknesses is a vital part of making better charts.

In any case, research has shown that humans are much more effective at understanding certain types of visual encoding than others. The work of statisticians William Cleveland and Robert McGill2 has been particularly influential in how we understand this phenomenon. They ranked all the different forms of visual representation used in charts, finding that people are generally better at judging the length of lines or bars, while they tend to struggle more with differences in things like angle, area, color, volume, direction, and shading. This is why bars generally make better charts than pies. It’s also why adding 3D elements can, as the Financial Times3 puts it, “obfuscate the information you want to communicate.”

Ultimately, though, the type of chart you use to represent your data is often what is most important. 

How To Make Better Charts In Jira Reports

Statisticians and scientists spend a lot of time thinking and writing about the effectiveness of charts because data visualization4 plays a key role in their jobs. The right charts can help scientists better understand the work of their peers, thereby informing their own research and aiding progress. They may also be instrumental in convincing funding bodies that a project is worth paying a grant for. 

It’s the same in the business world. Get the right chart in front of the right person, and it could be exactly the thing you need to push a deal over the line. Stick reams and reams of spreadsheets under people’s noses, and they might simply walk away – into the arms of a company that knows how to present data more clearly.

The trick is to choose a chart type that can relay whatever message you’re trying to send. Some kinds of charts, like pie charts, don’t say a lot about their underlying data, while a scatter plot can tell you a whole lot more. But that doesn’t mean you should default to the most complex chart type all the time, because it may not be appropriate, and you could end up confusing your intended audience. In spite of what Edward Tufte says, sometimes a pie chart is exactly what you need. 

Despite how much thought scientists5 put into chart types, however, there is no definitive methodology for data visualization, but there are some straightforward practices you can follow to help you make better charts in general:

  1. Graphs should present data that is otherwise too numerous or complex to describe in text form, and they should take up less space. If your chart doesn’t do that, it’s not doing its job. 
  2. Choose your colors carefully. If your chart relies on the reader being able to distinguish between different colors, they need to offer enough contrast for that to be comfortable. Also, think about the connotations that may be attached to different colors, otherwise, you could be sending a message that you are entirely unaware of. People have been shown to have very real physical and emotional reactions to certain colors. Colors also give you the opportunity to match your branding.
  3. Don’t default to pie charts. It’s tempting to use pie charts for everything, but they’re really only useful in a handful of situations. If you’re not trying to show how a series of parts make up a whole, then choose a different type of chart. 
  4. Don’t use a chart at all if you don’t need to. Sometimes, it is better to simply display the raw data, perhaps in a basic table. This is especially true with simple data sets and small sample sizes. 
  5. Use better tools. The right software can be enormously helpful when it comes to creating great charts. Custom Charts for Jira, for example, offers much more than the standard Jira visualization reporting feature set, giving the user much more control over how their data is presented. By default, Jira’s data visualization features are rather more limited, which can lead to the very problems described in this article. 
  6. Make sure your charts are easy to read. That means avoiding confusing background images or colours and not laying out text in a way that makes your audience tilt their heads to read it.
  7. Make better charts because you want to. If you’re including charts in your reports and presentations just for the sake of it, you’re not likely to be doing yourself any justice.
  8. Consider using more than one chart for the same data set. If you want to present a lot of information about your data, two simple charts may be better than a single complicated one. 
  9. Never sacrifice legibility for fancy styling. When it comes down to it, charts are there to communicate information, and if they fail to do that, no one will care about how pretty they look.

Can Better Charts Really Benefit Your Business?

The more numerous and complex your data is, the more likely you would benefit from using charts. They make something accessible which would otherwise be overwhelming. Scott Berinato, writing for the Harvard Business Review6 illustrates this succinctly with an aeronautical example:

“At Boeing the managers of the Osprey program need to improve the efficiency of the aircraft’s takeoffs and landings. But each time the Osprey gets off the ground or touches back down, its sensors create a terabyte of data. Ten takeoffs and landings produce as much data as is held in the Library of Congress. Without visualization, detecting the inefficiencies hidden in the patterns and anomalies of that data would be an impossible slog.”

Similarly, if you’re in a software development company, your department might encounter hundreds or even thousands of issues a day. When it comes time to assess the performance of your team for, say, the last quarter, you’ll want to look at the response times of your staff members – the aim being to identify who’s doing what, which tasks are taking the longest and so on. It would be impractical and self-defeating to go through all the data one by one, but a good chart? Well, that’s a different story. That will enable you to see the bigger picture in a matter of moments, so you can make better decisions, faster. 

It’s this kind of thinking, of course, that underpins all business intelligence solutions, and it  naturally translates into improved business performance.

Power-Up Your Jira Visualization Reporting

With everything you’ve learned from this blog post, you can begin to make better charts in Jira, but if you need more control, then check out Custom Charts for Jira visualization, from Old Street Solutions. It enables you to quickly change between different chart types, to customise colours, to filter data, and more. But it’s also accessible, meaning more of your people will be able to use it – so your whole organisation can benefit. 

Below, you’ll find a comparison between standard Jira reporting and Custom Charts for Jira Reports.

For more information, you can try Custom Charts for Jira Reports here or on the demo playground.

Confluence Page reports of Jira data visualization.

References:

1: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=85587&section=1#:~:text=Discrete%20data%20is%20information%20that%20can%20only%20take%20certain%20values.&text=This%20type%20of%20data%20is,all%20examples%20of%20continuous%20data.

2: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2288400

3: https://ig.ft.com/science-of-charts/

4:https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/mind/2019/science-data-visualization

5: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078179/

6 https://hbr.org/2016/06/visualizations-that-really-work

Boost Productivity with Enhanced Jira Reporting

As a Manager within an organization using Jira as a Project Management tool, enhanced Jira reporting helps you to clearly see the progress teams are achieving, and where bottlenecks are forming in every project. This in turn helps you to prioritize the tasks your teams need to focus on.

Enhanced Jira dashboard reports.

Enhanced Jira reporting visualization leads to better-organized teams, which leads to improved productivity, faster delivery, and better results. Jira reports also help keep your teams motivated by helping them share their successes, and learn from their failures.

It’s not always that simple though, are you finding the task of accessing data and producing Jira reports tedious? Do you find that the reports you are currently producing don’t accurately represent up-to-date statuses of your projects? Do you wonder why there is the need to export your data to another program to produce your reports, and why each team is using a different tool? Do you struggle to make the reports produced more impactful? Do you need to manually copy filters or send Jira Query Language to get the charts to look right and consistent between teams?

Wouldn’t it be great to share your reports with non-Jira users via a common platform such as Confluence without having to worry about permissions?

There are several add-ons for Jira reporting that give you more powerful options, but if you want a solution that doesn’t require training, or coding, yet has enough features to keep all your teams’ reporting within Jira Dashboards. Custom Charts for Jira – Reports by Old Street, an Atlassian Staff Pick from a top Atlassian Marketplace Vendor. 

Custom Charts for Jira provides chart components pulled directly from Jira with features not possible in native Jira Dashboards or Confluence pages out of the box, offering significant benefits. For example, the ability to merge segments (with or without using JQL) and chart any field by time, issue count, or story points is massively beneficial when tracking progress.

Custom Charts offer a far simpler and straightforward way to create Jira reports and charts that will convey more meaningful information to your teams. All with an extremely well-built and easy to use interface. 

Features include:

  • The ability to choose segment colors to remain on brand, to maintain consistency across charts, and more in a few clicks, without any need for coding. 
  • Use Custom Jira Query Language (JQL), saved filters, or use the simple click and drag interface to create any chart
  • Drag and Drop to reorder segments, bars, or tables
  • Merge segments or hide segments to simplify your charts and make them less cluttered
  • Save and share configurations and filters
  • Integrates with any Advanced JQL searches, and calculated custom fields
  • Chart 2-dimensional tables and charts by Story points, Issues or Time Spent

Explore how the apps work with our Interactive App Playground which will allow you to try out creating different types of charts using available data from our website 

Personalize those charts and see how easy it is to use our tools. Check out the playground here:

Enhanced Jira Reporting with customization and display options for Jira Dashboards and Confluence pages.

You can also view our demo video and see how easy it is to use our apps to personalize your charts:

Chart by anything you could write a JQL search for, and each segment is an individual JQL search.

For additional information on creating Custom Charts for Jira, check out the documentation for Jira Reporting here.