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Jira Software already offers a great set of core features, but when seamlessly combined with Atlassian’s other products, it provides an ideal project management solution for larger teams. While this project management tool focuses on software developers and IT professionals, it still offers decent functionality for other Agile, Scrum, or Kanban teams.
Great for Software and IT Project Management, Good for Everything Else
If you’ve ever worked as (or near) a software developer, then you’ll have already heard of Jira Software. Jira, for short, is a slimline project management tool that focuses on helping IT and development teams navigate not only the development process, but the life cycle of their product. Whether you’re a small indie developer or an IT helpdesk in a huge organization, Jira offers everything you need to streamline your workflow.
That’s not to say that teams outside of IT and software development can’t use Jira, though. Jira is flexible enough that any team following the Agile project management methodology can adapt it to their workflow. If you’re already familiar with Agile, picking up Jira will be simple. But if you’re not, be prepared for a steeper learning curve.
Small teams will absolutely love the free plans on offer. Unlike other free plans on the market, core features aren’t locked behind the paid plan – you’ll get everything you need for up to 10 users. If you need to upgrade for the handful of features that aren’t available on the free plan, or you have a larger team, then you can try Jira for free for 7 days.
I’ve spent dozens of hours putting Jira Software (and various other Jira products) to the test. Keep on reading to see whether it’s a good fit for your project.
A Quick Note on Terminology
Atlassian (Jira’s parent company) has created multiple products within the Jira family. Jira Software is one of four Jira-branded products. To keep things simple, I’ll be referring to Jira Software as “Jira” throughout this review. I’ll refer to all other Jira-branded software by their full names.
(Almost) All The Core Features You’ll Need – No Bloat
Jira excels at providing exactly what your team needs to manage its projects. You’ll get plenty of storage, unlimited single-project automation, and more. You’ll also get enterprise-grade security on all plans.
Despite all the features that Jira offers, it doesn’t quite keep up with monday.com or ClickUp. You probably won’t miss the extra templates or customization unless you’re planning highly complex projects, but you might notice the lack of a built-in time tracker.
Basic Templates Keep Things Simple
Jira doesn’t have the most impressive range of project templates. There are only 4 pre-built templates available for Jira, plus a handful of third-party options that you’ll have to install separately. This isn’t surprising given that Jira focuses on the Scrum and Kanban frameworks of Agile project management. Both of these frameworks prescribe a fixed workflow so any variations on these templates are likely to be minor and required in only a handful of use cases.
The saving grace here is Jira Confluence. I usually prefer to test and review project management tools on the merit of the core software alone. However, when you start using Jira, you’ll see that rather than being a completely separate software tool, Jira Software is just a piece of the wider Jira suite.
Jira Confluence hugely expands your options, with 75+ fully customizable page templates to help you build your project’s knowledge base. These include generic templates, from buyer personas and writing guidelines to Agile-specific templates like sprints and retrospectives. Confluence greatly expands Jira’s functionality from a simple service or project management tool to a single source of truth.
As long as you have a Confluence “space” (or wiki) connected to your project, you can even create new pages or edit existing ones within the “Project pages” tab of your Jira project. This means you don’t have to repeatedly switch over to Confluence, which is a great way to streamline your workflow. Any new pages created in your Confluence space will automatically show up in this tab, too.
Limited Project Views – But, Given Context, it Makes Sense
Jira doesn’t offer a ton of project views, and the project views you get depend on the template you choose. For example, you’ll only get a timeline and board view on the Kanban template. On the Scrum template, you’ll get an additional view called Backlog, which is used for planning sprints and – you guessed it – managing your project’s backlog. Choose the Bug Tracker template, and you’ll only have the spreadsheet-style Issues view.
When it comes to Agile project management, it makes sense to limit your project views to the bare necessities. That’s because you’ll typically be working in shorter blocks (or “sprints”) that last 1-4 weeks. Instead of focusing on the bigger picture, teams instead focus on specific features, issues, or other aspects of the project.
Jira is designed to have multiple parts of your project split into different spaces to streamline individual workflows. It means that, for example, a software development team can have one space to track their current sprint, and another for users to submit bugs to be addressed in a future sprint. This is fairly unique to Jira, so if you’re more familiar with other project management tools, it’ll take some time to get used to this segmentation.
It’s not an ideal solution (particularly for budget-conscious businesses), but connecting Jira Service Management or Work Management gives you the extra project views. Here, you’ll be able to set up projects with calendar views. However, you won’t be able to add these project views to Jira Software. Again, this is clearly to keep each part of your project streamlined, but I’d have liked to have the option to keep everything in one place.
Over Three Thousand Free and Paid Integrations
Jira offers one of the largest app marketplaces I’ve seen for a project management tool. You can filter your search based on whether you need an app for Jira Software, Confluence, or any other Atlassian tool.
Not only does the marketplace offer integrations with popular software solutions like Slack, Microsoft 365, Clockify, and monday.com, but you can extend Jira’s functionality with a huge variety of third-party tools. There are apps for everything – from automating workflows to daily standup forms (for scrum projects).
With Jira’s robust API and the built-in OAuth credential manager, you can also create your own secure integrations with self-hosted tools. Using OAuth for security means that your third-party integrations will have no access to the data on the Jira cloud server – apps will only see the issue-related data that is sent to them. This helps to keep your Jira account secure.
Flexible User Permissions
As your team grows, it can be tricky to manage which users can access, edit, and otherwise manage elements of your project. Jira offers a great solution for this.
Through your Atlassian Administration dashboard, you (and other managers or admins) can set up groups to control what users can access and change across your software suite. New users can be invited to specific groups when they join, which is a great way to reduce the risk of someone accessing (or editing!) something they shouldn’t.
Whenever you create a new project in either software, you’ll be able to set global permissions before you invite users to the project. From there, you’ll also be able to set permissions for what users can do within projects and spaces. Confluence even allows you to set individual permissions per page. You can get super specific with what each user is allowed to do, which is an ideal way of keeping your security strict yet flexible.
Optional Security Add-On
Atlassian Access is a paid security add-on for Jira that gives your organization more control over who can access projects, how they log in, and from which device. With this add-on, you can connect to your chosen identity provider (or use Okta, which is provided for free with Atlassian Access) to manage user access.
While this does come with an additional per-user cost, you can use its 30-day trial to see if this service will work for your organization. If you work with sensitive data, it could be worth it to prevent costly data breaches.
Ease of use
Pick-Up-and-Play for Agile Pros, Some Learning Curve Otherwise
Jira has clearly been designed for people who either currently use the Agile methodology or have a good foundational understanding. While it only took me about 10 minutes to set up a basic project, it didn’t offer any guidance or onboarding to help me understand how the software works. That said, the UI is simple and intuitive, so if you’ve used any project management software before, it won’t take too much time to find your way around.
Getting Started With Jira
Go to the Atlassian homepage and click Products > View all products > Jira Software. From there, click on Get it free. You’ll then be asked if you want to try Confluence alongside Jira, so make sure you click Select. Click Next to sign up, either by entering your email address and name or using your Google account. You’ll then be asked to enter a name for your Jira site and choose one of three available templates.
From there, you’ll be prompted to choose your project type. You can choose between a team-managed and company-managed project, with each option offering different user permissions. Take your time here – you can’t change your project type later. While Jira allows you to customize user permissions on some plans, company-managed projects have more flexibility in user permissions compared to their counterpart.
Finally, you’ll get the option to connect Confluence and your code repository, which makes setting up your project a breeze. I would’ve liked the option to add apps or integrations at this stage, but I can see the benefits of keeping the setup process streamlined to the basics.
Given that Jira is designed to give you a separate space for each aspect of your project, it could easily get overwhelming if you’re running multiple projects at once. The Your Work section of Jira is here to save the day. This is your homepage and personal dashboard, and it contains quick links to all the recent projects and tasks you’ve worked on. You’ve also got a tab that narrows this list down to the tasks that have been assigned to you, so you can stay laser-focused on your workload.
On top of that, everything is color-coded to make it even easier to scan through what you need to do. Projects are assigned a different color based on their icon. If you’ve got multiple projects running for one overall project, you can easily set all of those workspaces as the same color to make life easier for your team.
Manage Your Code Without Leaving Jira
Your Jira project has a specific area for managing the code repository associated with your project. This allows you to manage pull requests, monitor any commits, and even see when certain branches were last updated. You can even assign branches of your repository to Issues, which will allow you to quickly see any associated repository branches, commits, or pull requests.
Modern and Intuitive UI
Jira has a well-designed UI that is easy to grasp. Everything is clearly labeled, so you can easily switch between viewing project details and your assigned work. If you’ve used other Atlassian products before, like Trello or Jira Work Management, then Jira is even easier to navigate – the UI design is consistent across all its products.
It’s just as simple to switch between Jira and any of Atlassian’s other tools. If you add another Jira tool, it’s automatically available on your Jira site – no manual setup is required. Tools like Confluence are an exception to this, but you can connect a Space to any of your existing projects with just a few clicks.
Great Built-In Collaboration, but No Direct Messaging
Collaborating with your team is easy with Jira, and it’s even better when you connect Confluence. There are plenty of tools to communicate, and you’ll be able to create announcements and blogs, edit documents together in real-time, and more.
By using Confluence, you’ll be able to collaborate almost entirely in Jira. I say almost because there’s no direct messaging – you’ll have to use a third-party tool for that.
Team Dashboard & Communication
Jira’s custom dashboard tool is one of its standout features. You can set up as many dashboards as needed to suit your working style. You’ll be able to create private dashboards to manage your own workload, as well as dashboards that can be viewed by anyone on your project, in the same group, or across the whole organization. Jira also lets you manage editing access to ensure only authorized users can change the layout and contents of your dashboard.
If you need even more collaboration features, then Jira Confluence has you covered. You’ll start with a set “Overview” page, and after that, you can add as many pages as you need. Each page is fully customizable with embeddable widgets and the same formatting capabilities you’d expect from any word-processing software.
Best of all, you can co-edit these documents in real-time, with every change tracked via a detailed version history. Users can leave comments on documents, and any time you tag another user, they’ll be notified so they can keep track of the conversation. Project admins can also quickly create tasks by simply highlighting any text in the document, making it simple to set up and manage every aspect of your project.
Sharing files on Jira is easy: simply upload them as an attachment on tasks or Confluence pages. There’s no file limit size, and you can attach files from your device as well as Dropbox and Google Drive.
It’s disappointing that there’s no central file view that allows you to see all files attached to your project (like monday.com offers). On top of that, there’s no way to check whether a task has a file attached to it without opening that task – you’ll only see the most recent attachments in the activity feed. You can build a file library in Confluence to keep everything in one place, but you’d have to manually update this yourself. This isn’t ideal for huge projects or teams, but it’s the only option you have.
The Jira Cloud mobile app allows you to manage your projects and get real-time notifications on the go. However, this app isn’t just for Jira Software – it also works with Atlassian’s other Jira products. So, if you’re using Jira Software alongside Jira Confluence, you’ll be able to manage both without having to switch apps.
Self-Help Resources Galore, but Direct Support Is Hit or Miss
Jira’s customer support is an odd contradiction. On one hand, it offers an outstanding level of self-service support – which is a good thing because if you’re on the free plan, the self-service channels are all you have access to. On the other hand, you can only get in touch with customer support via a ticket system unless you’re on the Enterprise plan.
The Standard plan gives you access to Jira’s ticket system between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., regardless of the time zone you’re in. Upgrading to Premium gives you access to 24/7 ticket support for critical issues only, and Enterprise users get 24/7 support for all issues. In addition, the expected response time to your ticket is lower on higher-tier plans.
Disappointingly, only product and site administrator users can raise support requests. If you’re running a busy team, you can expect to forward support requests on top of your usual workload. In addition, the lack of real-time support options isn’t ideal. You won’t even get this with the Atlassian Access add-on – even though it’s an extra safety net against data breaches, it doesn’t give you elevated support to deal with time-sensitive security issues.
I tested Jira on a free trial of the Standard plan and submitted two tickets to try out the service. The first was to ask about pricing for 5 users and the second was a simple request to extend my free trial.
Because Jira’s fundamental framework is issue tracking, submitting a ticket is really easy. You also get a ton of information, including the assigned priority level, so I knew how long I could expect to wait for a response. The ticket system also warned me to expect extended response times.
For the first ticket, the response came in just under 8 hours– longer than the estimated 6 hours for the query’s priority level. The support agent went into detail about how Atlassian’s billing depends on whether I paid monthly or annually… with next to no acknowledgment of my question. Given that I could see that the team started working on my query two minutes before the response was sent, this confirmed my suspicion that 95% of it was a generic script.
The second ticket got a response in just under 10 hours, which was a lot faster than the expected two business days allotted for this priority level. Even though I clearly received a scripted response, I expected as much with a trial extension query.
Outside of tickets, you’ve got multiple options for self-service support. There’s an excellent knowledge base (or documentation, as Atlassian calls it) for each tool, plus an active community forum. If you’re having technical issues, you can check the system dashboard or dedicated status page to see if there are any known issues. On top of that, Atlassian offers free and paid training courses – not only for Jira tools, but also for project management and methodologies like Agile development.
Affordable Plans With Discounts for Larger Teams
Jira offers three paid plans and a fantastic free plan. While the free plan only covers up to 10 users, it gives you all the core features you need to manage nearly any project. The only thing that prevents it from being fantastic is the lack of customer support. However, if you’re comfortable troubleshooting most issues and you need a solution for a small team, you’ll likely be able to stick with the free plan for a long time.
If your team desperately needs the few features that aren’t available on the free plan (or wants access to customer support), the monthly paid plan is affordable at $7.75 per user. If you have over 100 users, you’ll get a discounted per-user rate. On top of everything included in the free plan, you’ll get 250GB of storage, audit logs, advanced user permissions, and anonymous access. You can try out the paid plan with a 7-day free trial and, if you need more time, you can ask for this to be extended to 30 days.
This applies to Jira Confluence, too – it’s free for up to 10 users, or you can sign up for a 14-day free trial to see if it’s right for you. If you need to upgrade to the paid plan, the extra cost per user/month for Jira and Confluence starts looking similar to a mid-level plan elsewhere. However, it’s entirely worth it if you need to keep your documentation in one place to streamline your team’s collaboration. And, as with Jira Software, the per-user cost is discounted when you add more users.
To make this combined solution even more budget-friendly, you can pay for both Jira and Confluence on an annual basis. Just bear in mind that the annual plans are priced per groups of users, not per user. For example, if you only have 7 users, you’ll only pay for 7 users on the monthly plan – but the annual plan will charge you for 10. However, you effectively get two months of each tool for free.
It’s definitely worth considering if the number of users you have sits on the high end of a user group, but you’ll likely end up paying the same (or more!) per user if you have less than this.
Jira Software is one of the best project management tools for Agile teams and, in particular, software and IT teams. It still has a lot to offer teams outside of this, but offering support for code-related projects is where Jira’s strengths lie.
On top of this, Jira Software is made even better when it’s combined with Atlassian’s other products. When used alongside Confluence, Jira becomes the ideal tool for larger teams that need a comprehensive project management solution. While this combined approach puts this solution on the more costly side of project management tools, it’s worth it for organizations that need to streamline their workflow with a single solution.
That’s not to discount its value for smaller teams, though. Jira and Confluence’s generous free plans will keep you going for a long time – as long as you have a maximum of 10 users.
Is Jira the best Agile project management tool?
Jira is the ideal tool for Agile project management. Not only does it offer full transparency over which team member is working on what task, but you’ll get built-in tools to manage sprints. You can also integrate Jira with video conferencing tools like Zoom to run daily standups and use Confluence to create sprint and retrospective documents.
Is Jira difficult to learn?
Jira is easy to learn if you’re experienced with the Agile methodology and if you’ve already used another Atlassian tool. However, if you’re new to either Agile or Atlassian, you’ll need to use Jira’s great documentation and training resources to get used to the software.
What types of companies does Jira work for?
Jira is designed to work for Agile software development and IT teams. In general, it is best for larger teams that want to completely streamline their workflow. Just bear in mind that Jira itself only offers 4 built-in templates, to cover Scrum, Kanban, and Bug Tracking. If you’ve got a use case outside of that, you’ll need to spend extra time setting up your project – or try another product like Jira Work Management.
Is Jira’s free plan good?
Yes! Jira’s free plan is one of the best on the market. Jira’s free plan covers up to 10 users and offers a generous 2GB of data, which is significantly more than most other free plans. On top of that, you’ll get all the core features you need – the only features locked behind a paywall are advanced features like extra user permissions and audit logs. Small teams will likely be able to use Jira’s free plans for years without outgrowing them.
Emma is a freelance content writer who specializes in thoughtful and insightful blogs and articles. Her main passion is the intersection of human behavior and modern technology, particularly in the context of marketing and cybersecurity. Outside of work, Emma loves video games, superhero movies, crochet, and cuddling her German Shepherd.