JIRA Agile General Purpose Guide

An Agile SCRUM project has 3 roles named as Product Owner (PO), Scrum Master (SM) and Development Team. This ” JIRA Agile General Purpose Guide” aiming to explain how to use JIRA tool for Agile projects keeping all these roles in mind. You will  be able to draw a nice picture in your mind once you finish reading this General Purpose Guide. This reading will also help you out to visualise standard SCRUM execution vs your project and JIRA tool usage & its applicability.

SCRUM has 3 important roles, there are cases where Product Owner (PO) & Scrum Master (SM) are same individuals however it is discouraged by SCRUM.org, but you may be this scenario,  so pay attention as it dilutes the responsibilities of both roles. When PO or SM plays a dual role, it creates a different kind of complexity and conflict of interest. In many enterprise, Product Owner is part of user story approval workflow in JIRA but not the scrum master or development team members.

Agile Scrum Execution Cycle
Agile Scrum Execution Cycle

Lets assume you are part of scrum team and this team has to build a product (or service) for organization’s HR team. It is Employee Skill Management Tracker (ESMT) which should keep track of employee’s skill set and their proficiency level (Basic, Intermediate, Advance, Expert). This should be a web based application generating basic report to draw training plan and identify skill gaps.

Senior Management and HR head had already defined a timeline to go live in 4 months with minimal functionalities (MVP  Minimum Viable Product) up-and-running and continue to enhances for next one year. HR head already identified a group of functional expert to come up with initial requirements along with tag must-have for phase-1 and post phase-1 (phase-1 is nothing but MVP release in 4 months). Senior management also deployed some technical expert to evaluate the initial requirement and draw a high level plan to evaluate a feasibility and resource requirement. All such preparedness is needed even before you start a sprint. There are oragnaizations and teams which name this preparation phase as “Sprint Zero” and this is wrong.  So experience group of people already identified the team members and had come up with initial requirements to kick off the sprint. They also have identified “JIRA” as a tool to run this Agile SCRUM project.

During the kick off, all the SCRUM team members (Product Owner, Scrum Master & Development Team) along with key stake holders, basic expectation, MVP, Sprint Length, Definition of Ready, Definition of Done, User Story Point Definition (1,2,3,5 & 8), sub task creation criteria etc are discussed and understood. The identified Product Owner also explained his role and representation of functional folks are made clear to everyone. The JIRA workflow (backlog item >>  sprint backlog item >> start-progress >> completed >> reviewed >> done) is discussed with all the team members. Now team is ready to kick off & Sprint-1 can be started which is 3 weeks of duration.

JIRA Project Setup & Project Template : Administrator

When we start a project, you have to ask JIRA administrator to create you project and your requirement to be explained to him and this has to be done before you start your sprint-1. When you start the sprint-1, your product backlog item should be populated, prioritization should have been done and estimation should be fed.

In JIRA, Project templates let you create new projects based on pre-defined templates. So, when a project is
created, JIRA will have preset configurations available which includs

  1. Issue type scheme – An issue type scheme that contains only agile-related issue types, such as story and epic.
  2. Workflow –  A specially designed workflow to work with JIRA Agile that lets you easily move tasks on your board.
  3. Screens – A set of screens that contain necessary fields for working with agile, such as epic link to link stories to epics, and sprint for when tasks are added to Scrum sprints.
  4. Agile board –  An agile board that is dedicated to the new project.
JIRA Project Creation Template
JIRA Project Creation Template

Note : The Agile Scrum and Agile Kanban templates are present when you first install JIRA, but they are only usable after JIRA Agile is installed

After selecting project template, you can give project’s name (Employee Skill Management Tracker) & description and submit. You can also adapt the Project Key (in this case, it is ESMT). You can enable JIRA Agile and create agile boards for any existing projects. These templates are simply tools to help you get started quickly.

JIRA Project Setting Screen

Once the project setup if finished and individuals are given access to this JIRA project. We need to start working with product backlog item and scrum board setup.

This basic setup allows following operation to be available to all roles unless added in security settings

  1. User Stories can be created by any roles and can be edited as long as they are not marked as completed.
  2. Task or sub-task can be created by any roles and there is no restriction.
  3. User stores can be moved from sprint to sprint (not to closed sprints) by all roles.
  4. User stories can only be approved by Product Owner and sometime Scrum Master based on setup done.

JIRA Agile Scrum Board Setup

The first step to start using JIRA Agile for Scrum is to create a Scrum board for your project. Click on the Agile menu item from the top navigation bar and select the Manage Boards option. Click on the Create board button. This will bring up the Create an Agile board dialog. Select the Create a Scrum board option.



The Scrum board is what you and your team will be using to plan and run your project. It is your backlog as well as your sprint activity board. A Scrum board has the following three major modes:

  1. Backlog: The Backlog mode is where you will plan your sprints, organize your backlog, and create issue
  2. Active sprints: The Active sprints mode is where your team will be working in a sprint
  3. Releases : the releases can be logically named and each PBI can be tracked as part of that releases.
  4. Issues : All your issues will be listed here in chronological order.
  5. Reports: The Reports mode is where you can track the progress of your sprint

The following screenshot shows a typical Scrum board in the Backlog mode.


Creating new issues

When a Scrum board is first created, all the issues, if any (called user stories or stories for short), are placed in the backlog. During your sprint planning meetings, you can create more issues and add them to the backlog as you translate requirements into user stories. To create a new issue, perform the following steps:

  1. Browse to your Scrum board
  2. Click on the Create button from the navigation bar at the top or press C on your keyboard. This will bring up the Create Issue dialog.
  3. Select the type of issue (for example, Story) you want to create from the Issue Type field.
  4. Provide additional information for the issue, such as Summary and Description.

When creating and refining your user stories, you will want to break them down as much as possible, so that when it comes to deciding on the scope of a sprint, it will be much easier for the team to provide an estimate. One approach is by using the INVEST characteristics defined by Bill Wake:

  1. Independent: It is preferable if each story can be done independently. While this is not always possible, independent tasks make implementation easier.
  2. Negotiable: The developers and product owners need to work together so that both parties are fully aware of what the story entails.
  3. Valuable: The story needs to provide value to the customer.
  4. Estimable: If a story is too big or complicated for the development team to provide an estimate, then it needs to be broken down further.
  5. Small: Each story needs to be small, often addressing a single feature that will fit into a single sprint (roughly 2 weeks).
  6. Testable: The story needs to describe the expected end result so that after it is implemented, it can be verified.

Creating new epics

Epics are big user stories that describe major application features. They are then broken down into smaller, more manageable user stories. In JIRA Agile, epics are a convenient way to group similar user stories together.  To create a new epic from your Scrum board, perform the following steps:

  1. Expand the Epics panel if it is hidden, by clicking on EPICS from the left hand side panel.
  2. Click on the Create Epic link from the Epics panel. The link will appear when you hover your mouse over the panel. This will bring up the Create Epic dialog, with the Project and Issue Type fields already pre-selected for you:

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