In the exciting third quarter of 2021, I was working for the company Anduin Transactions from our office in the Bason neighborhood. Around that time, we began having serious conversations about discovering the ideal task management tool to make our work lives much simpler. And let me tell you, those conversations were every bit as exciting as they sound!
Back in the day, everyone on our team at Anduin loved Airtable. It was our magic tool for managing tasks because it was easy to use and could be changed to fit our needs. We could change fields, link records that go together, and work as a team like a rock band on tour. It completely changed how we did things.
But you know that the only thing that stays the same in life is change. As our team grew, our products began to look like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. We received a lot of requests to make all of our products’ features more interesting. And that’s when we started to notice that our trusted Airtable was getting old. It was having trouble keeping up with Agile processes, especially when it came to the planning and running of sprints.
Here’s the thing: sprints are what make Agile methods so effective. We set goals, track progress with burndown charts, and do a retrospective at the end of these work cycles. All of these bells and whistles are already built into tools like Jira, Asana, and Clickup. Airtable, though? Not really. So, managing sprints felt like trying to run a marathon while wearing flip-flops in Airtable.
Understand the requirement
There are a lot of apps out there that can be used to manage sprints and tickets. At the time, our team spent a few weeks testing out these tools, but we still didn’t know which one we should use. We thought this was because we didn’t want to keep switching tools, which had happened many times before and made everyone tired.
There are so many tools to choose from, and we didn’t know which ones would work best for our process. We also didn’t know what our ideal process should be, either.
At this step, everyone agreed that instead of jumping right into testing and trying out apps, we should focus on figuring out what we want these tools to do to help us prioritize tickets and keep better track of them (i.e., define our working process). Another important thing to think about is how well this tool will work in the long run as the team and product grow. The best tool should have these qualities:
- User-friendliness: This refers to how easy it is to use the tool and how easy it is to figure out how to use it.
- Handling a Big Backlog: The tool can handle a lot of tasks or projects at the same time.
- Handling Multiple Projects: Being able to keep track of and switch between multiple projects.
- Automation Workflow: The ability to do some tasks and processes automatically.
- Integration with other programs like Slack and GitHub: So that when these tools do something, Jira can automatically do something to save everyone time.
- Scalability over the long term: This shows how well the tool can change and grow as the team and project grow.
Here is a table I made to show how we felt about all the tools we chose as candidates.
|Handles Large Backlog||Poor||Excellent||Good||Good|
|Handles Multiple Projects||Good||Good||Good||Good|
|Integration with Slack and GitHub||Moderate||Excellent||Good||Good|
|Long Term Scalability||Poor||Excellent||Good||Good|
Please keep in mind that this table is based on our opinions at the time. Jira might seem to be the best, but other tools have their own unique features that aren’t listed here.
Then, the Jira tool gets all the attention because it can meet all of those needs. However, everyone on the Product team was pretty skeptical about this tool, except for me and a few others who had used it before. Aside from that, no one had ever set up Jira before.
So I put up my hand and asked if I could take over the job of exploration and transition for the company. At the time, this made me feel strong and like being in charge. It went good.
My story – How I became a Jira guy
As a Business Analyst at Nash Tech, I got to use the tool Jira. I’ve loved Jira ever since, and I thought it was the only tool that could change my life.
But I’ve only set up Jira once, for a freelance project called sieuchocokhi.vn, where I helped a friend run his tech team and business better. I set up Jira there using the team-managed project type and the Sprint template. I don’t know much about how to set this up for a company like Anduin Transaction, which makes a lot of different products and has complicated development processes that involve many teams.
But the scope is that it will be a trial run for the main Fundsub product, so it shouldn’t be too stressful.
There is the thrill of a challenge, and I like that. I want to make the business better. When I saw how hard it was for the product and engineering teams to keep track of tickets, I told myself I had to do something to make things better so that the product time to delivery and continuous integration could be optimized better.
This is a comparison table that I have created for everyone to take a look at so that they can get an overview of the differences between the two tools.
|Primary Purpose||Project & Issue Tracking||Database with Spreadsheet UI|
|Intended Audience||Software Development Teams||General Users & Teams|
|Customization||Highly Customizable Workflows||Custom Fields & Views|
|Templates||Agile, Kanban, Bug Tracking, etc.||Various Database Templates|
|Task Management||Advanced with Sub-tasks & Priorities||Basic with Custom Fields|
|Agile & Scrum Support||Built-in Agile Boards & Sprint Mgmt||Requires Manual Setup|
|Reports & Analytics||Burndown Charts, Velocity, etc.||Basic Views & Grouping|
|Integration||With many dev tools, Slack, etc.||Limited to Zapier & APIs|
|Collaboration||Comments, @mentions, Confluence Intg||Comments & Collaboration View|
|Attachment Support||Attachments on Tasks||Attachments on Records|
|Price||Tiered based on users & features||Free with Paid Upgrades|
|Ease of Use||Moderate (Steep Learning Curve)||Simple & Intuitive|
|Scalability||Designed for Large Enterprises||Best for Small-Mid Teams|
Airtable stands out because it has a great mix of database features and an easy-to-use interface. This makes it perfect for flexible data organization and working together. It does a great job of showing data visually and making changes easy. But Jira turned out to be the best choice for our team because of the need for strict project tracking, detailed workflow customization, and detailed agile and Scrum-based functions. Its powerful set of tools for making software and advanced reporting capabilities give our projects the structure and accuracy they need.
How I mastered Jira in 2 weeks?
When the time came, I was nervous because I had never talked about tech processes in front of ex-Google and ex-Silicon Valley engineers before. I was trying to convince them to use the Jira tool, but the CTO said he didn’t like it because it was hard to set up and had to be managed closely in a micro-management way (you know how engineers always wanted to make process simple and streamline as much as possible). He made some good points, but I know I can show him something. Jira isn’t that hard to use. I know that if I take my time setting it up, which can take a while, but at the end, it will run smoothly and be easy to use.
What did I do? Just like the same method I used when I learned English. I spent several nights watching YouTube videos of Indian experts showing how to use Jira, use cases, and how to set it up. I didn’t have a clear goal in mind for which setup I needed to learn yet and I didn’t mind it at all, since neither my team nor I knew what that meant, so I just immersed myself in those tutorials and watched them like I was watching the whole season of Breaking Bad in two or three nights.
AND it worked for me. After three days of watching videos at work until I went to bed, I finally understood Jira and knew how to set it up so that it would work for all of the common use cases we usually had while building the Fundsub product at Anduin.
Then I felt so confident and be ready for the demo!
7 points I demonstrated during the Demo
These are the list of things I did in the demo where 20ish engineers and tech leaders at Anduin joined at the time:
- Sprint Planning: I showed how Jira can be used to plan sprints, including setting sprint goals, estimating story points for each task, and giving tasks to team members. Focus on the benefits of Jira’s built-in Agile features, such as how easy it is to move tasks from the backlog to the current sprint and from one sprint to the next.
- Task Management: Show how Jira can be used to create, assign, and change tasks. Show how subtasks can be used to break up big tasks into smaller pieces that are easier to handle. Point out that Jira has powerful search and filtering tools that can help team members find the tasks they need to work on quickly.
- Tracking progress: Show how the Agile boards in Jira can be used to see how far the team has come during a sprint. Show how the burndown charts in Jira can help the team know if they’re on track to finish their tasks by the end of the sprint.
- Collaboration and Communication: Show how Jira can make it easier for the team to talk to each other. Show how team members can leave comments on tasks, tag each other, and share files. Show how Jira works with other tools for communication, like Slack and email.
- Tracking issues and reporting bugs: Show how Jira can be used to keep track of bugs and other problems. Point out that Jira can work with development tools like Bitbucket and GitHub, which helps the team keep track of issues from the time they are created until they are fixed.
- Reporting and analytics: Show how Jira’s reporting features can give the team information about how they’re doing and help them improve their processes. Give examples of reports like the sprint report, the velocity chart, and the cumulative flow diagram.
- Customizing Workflows: Show how Jira’s workflows can be changed to fit the team’s current processes. Focus on the benefits of Jira’s flexible workflows, which can be changed as the team’s needs change.
At the end of the demo, everyone gave a big round of applause, which could be seen as a YES to my efforts to convince all the main teams at Anduin Transaction to switch to Jira for good. It was the best feeling I’d ever had as a Product Manager at the time, the feeling of giving my stakeholders the most value and best experience.
I made sure that everyone understood how to use it, and I was supportive on slack, answering any questions from anyone about the tool and the Agile methodology in detail. After the demo day, it took us a few more weeks to use and learn Jira thouroughly, then came the integration with Github and Automation.
From that point on, all of Anduin’s main products were run on Jira, with the support from me. Because of this, people sometimes referred to me as “the Jira guy.” Even though I didn’t like the nickname, it’s good to know that I am now a relatively well-known character within the company.
Looking back, I’ve learned so much from the whole Jira transition process. I’ve learned about the importance of understanding your team’s needs and processes before choosing a tool. I’ve learned about the power of taking initiative and driving change. And most importantly, I’ve learned that with the right tool and the right mindset, anything is possible.
Bonus section – Automation workflow and Github intergration in Jira.
One of Jira’s best features that doesn’t get enough recognition is its powerful automation tool. Jira Automation lets teams set up rule-based triggers, conditions, and actions to streamline processes and make sure that tasks that are done over and over again are done without any problems. Jira’s automation tool takes the manual work out of tasks like assigning tickets to people based on what they say or changing priority levels based on feedback. This lets teams focus on what really matters.
But the real game changer is how well Jira works with GitHub. With this integration, it’s almost impossible to see the link between code and task management. When developers make Pull Requests (PR) or Merge Requests on GitHub, it can automatically update the status of tickets in Jira. For example, a PR can move a ticket from “In Progress” to “Code Review” without the user having to do anything. This tight integration makes sure that developers don’t have to switch between platforms to update their status. The process of committing code and letting people know it’s ready for review becomes a single, smooth motion. This makes the process much more efficient and less likely to miss something.