A software product goes through many updates and releases during its lifecycle; and with customers today expecting more, and faster, visibility over projects has never been more key. The right tool goes a long way in helping you plan and track your projects and releases; and for that, a lot of companies already use Jira - see for yourself.

And, by incorporating the right project management app in Jira itself, you get to customize things to your own rhythm, and enjoy software upgrades and deployment every time, as opposed to, well… you know.

So, here’s a little list of Jira (and Swanly) features you can use to track projects, releases, issues, you name it, but first, let’s start with planning, shall we?

PLANNING STARTS WITH A BOARD

And a backlog of tickets and items. We’re not at tracking yet, but setting things up is the way towards good release tracking and clean, useful data. Data doesn’t just happen at the end :P

So, here are a few tips to set up properly:

Use high-level estimates

Use high-level time estimates for epics or stories that would end up connecting tasks later on; it’s basically like a family tree that starts with say, your great grandparents: versions and epics. You start with these, then move your estimated tickets under them; and when planning comes along, you’re ready to prioritize with the team and set the real thing forward.

Research and deal with the difficulties first

Finish research and the harder tasks at first, during earlier sprints, so that you have enough time to handle them later on if anything were to come up; and that’s usually the case.

Revise your estimates

Clarify and revise the estimates of every ticket before a sprint begins, so that developers know what’s really required of them. Developers are no crystal ball readers, they need clear instructions.

Work on your statuses

Project status reports are a great way to keep track of a project's progress, plus, they help you see ahead when it comes to risks and other challenges. If you want clean, real-time data to look into, you’re going to have to work on your statuses and update them when you need to.

TRACKING RELEASES IS A PROCESS

Your releases are on track as long as the start and end dates of your issues fall within the start and end dates of their corresponding releases.

MMM, THINK AGAIN

It’s usually not that simple. Many people (especially scrum masters :P) make the mistake of expecting the release to be completed when they see that the majority of tickets are done. They end up leaving out post-ticket stages such as testing, bug fixing, educating production support, documentation and so on. So no, it’s not as simple as that! And in some extreme cases, it may take weeks to release once all the tickets on the board are done.

via GIPHY

MAKE USE OF THE FEATURES

Jira is capable of many features to track releases. In this section, I'm including images of Swanly features specifically; Swanly being a project management roadmap plugin tool for Jira Cloud. The Swanly app adds a lot of functionality to existing Jira features and introduces new features all together; which is why I’m including it here. Also, it’s a fantastic tool :P

Use the portfolio roadmap view

Roadmap release view in Jira - Swanly, with sample releases
Roadmap Release View in Jira - Swanly

The portfolio-level view allows you to seamlessly create and synchronize activities across multiple projects, releases and teams. You can view the release as a roadmap to understand where things are when it comes to pending issues for that release. As for projects, you can access every release in Jira alongside a list of all the issues assigned to that release. Isn’t it lovely!

Use the timeline view

Timeline release view in Jira - Swanly, with sample plan
Timeline Release View in Jira - Swanly

The timeline offers real-time understanding of the scope and status of your projects, so you can spot issues and resolve them instantly. The timeline view in Swanly offers a color-coded representation of releases; a nice, clear visual of your project. You can easily see which releases are on track, and which are off, then delve into the details for each.

There are however times when releases are only a day apart, or when you have to handle many releases scheduled for the same day; what you can do then is:

Jump from one release to another
While jumping from one release to another, the details for each release get displayed accordingly.

View details for multiple releases
You can view the releases scheduled for any specific day and their details, by clicking on the release ‘train’ on the timeline.

Track Release/Issue Details in Jira - Swanly
Track Release/Issue Detail in Jira - Swanly

Filter your project/release/issue

Designed for a seamless journey across any project, Swanly brings the visibility you’d expect, with a list view that enables you to quickly navigate extensive lists of releases, filtered by project, status or type.

Filtering issues by project, status or type in Jira - Swanly
Filtering Issues in Jira - Swanly

Define your stages

The deployment stages in the release panel are useful for seeing the status of any version at a point in time. It gives you a summary and breakdown of the issues in the version, with the issues grouped by status so you can see if any work remains.  

Swanly's release deployment statuses in Jira
Release Deployment Stages in Jira - Swanly

Use workflows

They’re used when trying to customize the way tickets move through development stages, to adapt to every project or product. Workflows make for easier and quicker tracking as you create processes for the way your team does things. Having a stable release management process where the length of each stage is planned helps you deliver on time; and with Swanly, you can easily create release templates to use in Jira.

Create release templates in Jira with Swanly
Release Templates in Jira - Swanly

Use a burndown chart

Burndown charts are popular in Agile and Scrum, and there's no doubt about it; they offer a clear and real-time understanding of release progress and are great for tracking remaining time or effort until release delivery. Now, Kanban projects in Jira don't feature the release burndown functionality you'd get with Swanly.

Release Burndown Chart for Jira - Swanly App
Release Burndown Chart for Jira - Swanly

Use epics and versions

An epic allows you to group tickets that are connected yet track them separately, giving you a feature-wise view of the progress. A version is what every ticket is tied to in order to facilitate release-wise tracking; if a version isn’t completed in one go, it can then be split into multiple sprints for the sake of simplifying.

Using epics and versions to track in Jira - Swanly
Epics and Versions in Jira - Swanly

Delivering software to users is a necessity, and if it can’t be done consistently and on-time, your business will inevitably lag behind. That’s the way it is :) I hope these features give you hero-tracking status, and if you’re ever interested in checking Swanly out, you can, by clicking here.

Good luck!