Why are Jira Dashboards Useful?

When you open up Jira, the Jira Dashboard is the first thing you see. That’s why making sure it displays the information most relevant and useful to your day-to-day operations can help keep teams focused, motivated and efficient.  

The following is a simple guide to making useful Jira Dashboards for those new or relatively new to Jira Software. It also offers tips and tricks for how to get the most out of them.

A successfully growing organization will have an expanding volume of projects, and programs, many of which will be launched in parallel. This makes it vital to have a Interactive Jira Dashboards that put all the information you need in one place.

What are Jira Dashboards?

Your Jira Dashboard appears on your home screen when you log in to Jira. It’s your at-a-glance picture of what’s going on across all of your projects without having to click on one or open an email.

A Jira Dashboard displays blocks called gadgets. Each gadget provides dynamic and very visual summaries of Jira project and issue data. Jira comes with a set of standard, pre-installed gadgets out of the box. A few examples are:

  • Activity Stream Gadget—displays a summary of your recent activity
  • Assigned To Me Gadget—displays all open issues in projects assigned to the user viewing the dashboard
  • Filter Results Gadget—displays the results of an issue filter
  • Pie Chart Gadget—displays issues from a project or issue filter in pie chart format (issues are grouped by statistic type, e.g. status, priority, assignee)
  • Administration Gadget—displays a checklist of common admin tasks and links to admin functions and documentation

You can also download more gadgets from the Atlassian Marketplace. More on that later.

The default dashboard

The default dashboard, called the system dashboard, is the screen Jira users will see the first time they log in. It comes loaded with gadgets from Jira’s pre-installed selection and is limited to only one dashboard page. 

Jira administrators can add, remove, reorder and in some cases configure the gadgets displayed on the default dashboard. The layout, such as the number of columns, can also be changed. You can do this by clicking Administration > System and then User Interface > System Dashboard to open the Configure System Dashboard page.

There is a limit of 20 gadgets on a single dashboard page, which means that’s all you can display on the default dashboard. If you need to, you can raise the 20-gadget limit by editing the jira-config.properties file in the Advanced Settings page of Jira’s administration area.

Just set jira.dashboard.max.gadgets to your preferred value and restart Jira. That said, we recommend a maximum of 6 gadgets per dashboard for ease of use and clarity.

David Berclaz from Apwide has helped compile an overview of some of the best apps for Interactive Jira Dashboards. Let us know if we missed any, and we’d be happy to keep this list growing!

A Project Manager’s Living Nightmare

If your projects are being managed according to a template that senior management got on a training course crammed with acronyms, it’s SAFe to assume different teams will regularly be forced to shove a lot of square peg data into round holes.

Anyone that’s worked alongside a Jira power user, sees the true potential of interactive Jira Dashboards unleashed directly in Jira.

Sadly, these organisations will often then force these subject matter experts to export the reports into Excel, and then Powerpoint.

These are exactly the sort of organisations what will forward round the data in an email chain cc’ing everyone, or if they’re hip and cool with the kids, they’ll upload the spreadsheets to a shared folder, and a master weekly report called july_reports_ulitmate_merged_final_3.pptx

Some are able to resign themselves to this minor and unnecessary evil, some complain, but few are able to challenge the growing avalanche of reports.

Unsurprisingly admin that’s considered an unnecessary and burdensome chore by most, isn’t always promptly, and fully completed. This makes the reports even less valuable as their accuracy is uncertain. Sometimes management will try and fix this by tying performance reviews to the results in the reports. Thankfully, this fixes all the problems, and doesn’t make the reports even more resented.

Sigh. As no one is now sure whether the reports are accurate or not, management will send a Slack or Whatsapp message, whenever they need information for the impending meeting.

So why would busy team members update the official reports, when a new data black market has emerged? Only the most acquiescent are still complying with the semi legalized bad data wasteland.

Eventually, the digital transformation consultants will come in, they will suggest migrating to a new platform for collaboration. Some key information will get lost in the move, and the people who embraced the old process the most zealously will be most punished for their compliance.

Now the cycle can repeat!

So before we get stuck in this groundhog day, let’s go back to basics, and get the fundamentals right!

Custom Jira Dashboards 

It’s really easy to create and customise your own dashboards. 

In Jira Cloud, just go to Dashboards > Create dashboard. 

In Jira Server & Data Center, click Dashboards > Manage Dashboards. Then click Create new dashboard in the top right of the page. 

Give your dashboard a name and description so your team knows when to use it. Fill out the remaining fields, then click save

You’ll now have an empty dashboard in front of you. Click Add gadget and choose from the available gadgets to populate your dashboard. Custom dashboards are not limited to one dashboard page. You can also edit the layout; there are five options to choose from.

You can create a different dashboard for each project you’re working on, or even multiple dashboards for a single project. However, less is quite often more, and setting up more dashboards than you need can create clutter and confusion. 

Note: some of the gadgets require filters. This means that if you share your dashboard with people who aren’t able to view the results of your filter, it means they’re not going to see any data on the dashboard. So if you want them to see any of the gadgets that have filter results, make sure the filter is turned on for those people.

Tip: you can save time creating a dashboard from scratch by copying an existing dashboard and simply changing a few of the gadgets. Just click Copy dashboard from the More menu (…) on the top right of any dashboard. 

Standard Jira Dashboard Gadgets

Filter Results

This gadget gives you easy access to the results of commonly used filters. If you find that you are constantly trawling through menus, dropdowns and individual filter screens to find the filters you use all the time, Filter Results gives you immediate visibility of them.

Issue Statistics

This gives you a breakdown of issues on a particular project, so you can track workloads, flag bottlenecks in the system and identify where you should allocate resources. 

Road Map

This list versions due for release and displays progress bars for each, showing resolved versus unresolved issues. This lets you visualise how you’re doing on each release.

Created vs Resolved Chart

This lets you see whether the overall workload is being addressed or if issues are being created faster than they are being completed. It’s one of the few actual Jira Reports that gets imported over into Gadgets. (Another is the Sprint Burndown.)

Two-Dimensional Filter Statistics

This shows the data for a particular issue filter in a configurable table format. It lets you zoom in on key areas of interest. For example, you can select a filter to retrieve all closed issues on a certain project or display the workloads of individual team members. 

Sprint Health

This gives you a snapshot of your sprint dynamics. It tells you what’s in your ‘to-do’ category (which is blue), what’s in your ‘in-progress’ category (which is yellow) and what’s in your ‘done’ category (which is green). It also tells you what percentage of time has elapsed and what percentage of work is complete. It makes for a great conversation starter; you can how see you’re doing, what the scope changes are, if any issues have been flagged, etc. It acts as a great heads-up for your Scrum master when it comes to removing roadblocks.

Useful Jira Dashboard Add-ons

I’m not saying all your problems will be solved by a good project management software stack, but let’s have a look at some of the options, and see how they could at least make things better.

Jira’s utility comes from its ubiquity, it’s expanded well past its bug tracking software days.

It’s never been easier to make useful reporting dashboards in Jira that can be presented to all stakeholders, anywhere. 

Out of the box, vanilla Jira Reports are somewhat limited, which is why there are a plethora of options on the Atlassian Marketplace with all of the options your reporting dashboards might need.

To take your Jira Reporting to the next level, embrace best practice, and set up a functional, automated, integrated, and non siloed interactive Jira dashboards that will aggregate everything you need in one place.

Check out the following add-ons on the Atlassian Marketplace, they may be just what you need to enhance your Jira reporting.

Idalko’s Jira Pivot Gadget

Idalko’s Jira Pivot Gadget provides spreadsheets and business intelligence functionality, allowing you to take a multi-dimensional view of your data and aggregate or drill down into any information you like. 

Supported dimensions include basic issue fields, all custom fields that can be enumerated, and table grid data.

Panorama – Scale Project Management.

Panorama for Jira lets you make multi-level structure of your work in Jira crossing project tree hierarchies to better plant and monitor progress, and summarize epic story points of everything you need.

Digital Toucan's Panorama for Scaled Project management in Jira hierarchies.

Find out more about Panorama Hierarchy and Structure for Jira

Panorama is available for cloud only, if you’re on Server or Data Center, you’ll need to try Structure for Jira

eazyBI – Reports and Charts for Jira

If you have a lot of data in Jira as well as other sources, and need extensive reporting options, consider eazyBI. This will export data from your Jira overnight so you can splice and visualize a snapshot of the data in your Jira. At its simplest, it’s like a pivot table for Jira data. For the more complicated reports, you’ll have to hire a full-time dedicated expert to code on behalf of the teams that need them.

Check out eazyBI for yourself 

eazyBI Reports and Charts for Jira

Jira Project Tracking With Profields

Vanilla Jira as standard offers limited reports with regards to Jira Projects.

Deiser’s Profields allows your Jira reports all the project fields they’d ever need. These powerful reporting gadgets directly inside Jira dashboards, which provides crucial insights, and works nicely with your other reporting dashboards, no need for a silo, and a bunch of reports on another tab.

Find out more about Profields for Jira

Profields for Jira Dashboards

Golive – Release and Environment Hub for Jira

If you need a simple way to publish your Release Plan, or a single source of truth for all activities taking place on your Test Environments. Display a project level timeline on a on a Jira on a timeline is important to you, I’d strongly recommend you check out Golive. It’s the best way to display and manage information on releases, test environments, and deployments.

Once again, it has the benefit of being local on the Jira Dashboard, or Confluence pages, so it’s exactly where you need it.

More info about Find out more about Golive’s Environment Hub.

Apwide's golive Test environment management dashboards for Jira

Custom Charts for Jira and Confluence

Custom Charts simply makes customizable Jira reports and charts, directly on Jira Dashboards. The customization options are broad, but more importantly, they’re easy to use. Find out more about how Custom Charts for Jira helps with enhanced Jira Reports.

Custom Jira Dashboard Rerporting

With the right addons, building a live user-friendly dashboard within Jira with all of the information you need is a relatively straightforward task for most of your team.

In Conclusion: The Importance of Jira Dashboards

Jira Dashboards enable you to walk into a status meeting knowing whether things are on track before anyone says a word. They let you come back off holiday and get a quick project update without having to trawl through emails. They also let you know the moment something goes wrong, like when a growing bug fix pile overtakes current velocity, as well as identify potential bottlenecks ahead of time.

As most users aren’t Jira experts and don’t want or need to be exposed to all of its powerful but complex features, Jira Dashboards are essential for helping technical and non-technical teams find the information they’re looking for quickly. The dashboard is the first thing users see and it’s the place where they expect to be able to find all the relevant information for their role, such as a list of issues assigned to them or the progress of the team on a version. The goal of your Jira Dashboard is to incite emotion or action. Providing the right information in the right way is the key to making sure that happens.

Of course, it’s not always possible to get your dashboard right first time. It may not be clear to your audience why the data you’ve included is relevant, in which case, take their feedback and change it. It may take a few iterations to get your dashboard properly tuned to your team and stakeholders. But remember, that’s what agility’s all about.

One final piece of advice: Is to take the time to show your team your reports, and how to use them. There’s no point in having the perfect place to share and collaborate data visualization if it’s a best-kept secret.

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