Using JQL for Efficient Agile Project Management

project manager using jira

Jira offers many advantages for agile project managers. It’s easy to organize sprints for multiple teams, set up hierarchies, and customize issues in detail. Basic reporting functions like scrum team reports, issue analysis, and forecast and management reports also help keep your teams on track. 

But sometimes, finding the information you need when you need it can be a challenge. Sudden blockers pop up and you don’t know which linked issues are causing it. With complex hierarchies, important subtasks may get lost. Identifying problems like scope creep and prioritizing high-value deliverables often requires many searches and hours combing through issues.

Using advanced JQL can help project managers pinpoint key issues more quickly and collect valuable insights into actionable reports. In this blog post, learn more about how using extended JQL search functions is ideal for agile project management and find out how JQL queries can make your day-to-day agile project management more efficient.

Agile vs. Traditional Project Management

Agile Project ManagementTraditional Project Management
* Short sprints with deliverables broken up
* Frequent feedback from client
* Flexibility to meet changing needs
* Collaboration among teams
* Adapt and refocus when facing challenges
* Long-term plan from beginning to end
* Feedback only at the end
* Rigid terms
* Teams often work in silos
* Long delays if project goes off course

In this rapidly changing world, 63% of organizations see agile transformation as a priority. Using Jira aids this process, but there are still challenges.

While agile project management increases productivity, innovation, and flexibility, there’s more for a project manager to keep track of since it’s not strictly linear. When managing collaborations between multiple teams, rapid iterations, and evolving scope, you need to find connections and potential blockers quickly.

Everyday Challenges of an Agile Project Manager

Let’s take a look at an example of these everyday challenges faced by agile project managers. Annie manages a large software project, Project Dynamite, involving three teams. Halfway through the sprint, Team X is at a standstill. They aren’t able to complete their tasks because the tasks are dependent on several key issues that Team Y is working on. 

In the meantime, Team Z seems to be constantly overloaded each sprint, and it’s not clear why. Because they’re struggling to keep up with the sheer number of tasks, they’re also losing focus on priorities.

To address these problems, Annie searches through Jira. She wants to find all the subtasks of issues in the project for each sprint and create a report so that everyone is aware of how the tasks are related and what needs to be prioritized. But she runs into another challenge. Basic Jira search doesn’t show subtasks when you search for all the issues in a sprint for a project.

For team Z, Annie suspects that scope creep is the reason they’re overloaded. However, it’s difficult to tell how many and which issues have been added after the sprint started, so she can’t easily confirm this. 

Extended JQL Queries Enhance Jira Project Management Capabilities

Annie often uses JQL for in-depth searches, but it lacks the capabilities she needs. While browsing the Atlassian Marketplace for Jira project management add-ons, she discovers JQL Search Extensions for Jira and decides to give it a try.

The extended search functions enable her to instantly find what she needs. She uses the query issue in childrenOfIssuesInQueryRecursive(“project=’Dynamite’ and type=Initiative”) to find all the epics, stories, and subtasks in the project and make sure nothing has been overlooked.

Screenshot of Jira extended search functionality
Open the extended search bar to use extended search functions.

She also uses subtasksCount >= 3 and sets this as a filter, so she’ll quickly be aware if too many subtasks are piling up under one issue. If this is happening, the issue probably needs attention or blockers might occur.

screenshot of Jira search for issues with subtasks
This alias can be used in the advanced search bar without opening the extended search app. Only functions require you to open the app.

Another query Annie frequently uses is linkedIssuePriority = “highest” to find issues that are linked to the highest priority issues so teams working on the linked issues know that these should also be of high priority.

To solve the problem of scope creep, she uses 

issue in addedToSprintAfterStart(“Dynamite board”). This shows all of the issues that were added to the current sprint after it started. Adding sprint IDs into the query shows issues that were added to all of those sprints after start, so she can see how long the problem has been going on. Team Z often has new issues added to the sprint after the start, so they’re doing much more than they’ve committed to.

After using JQL Search Extensions for Jira, Annie is able to organize and prioritize tasks more efficiently. And by saving queries as filters and using them to generate reports, all of her teams can better visualize how their work is connected.

For more ideas on using search extensions for project management, see our Top 10 JQL Queries for Project Managers.

Boost Your Agile Project Management Capabilities with JQL Search Extensions

Are you facing similar challenges in your agile project management? Being able to search through issues in your Jira instance more efficiently can help you stay on top of priorities so your project runs smoothly. Try JQL Search Extensions free for 30 days and start using the queries today.

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