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Planning On Jira Dashboards Could Prevent an 88% Failure Rate

Apr 10

There have been numerous big projects that fail and we can all get lessons from them. Some of the infamous big projects that crashed and burned include the Ryugyong Hotel project of North Korea, Ford Edsel (which cost Ford the equivalent of a whopping $2.4 billion in 2020 currency), and the Galactic Empire's two Death Stars. With huge investments in human and monetary resources, it's hard to believe that these projects could fail. 


In this article, we will check how you can use Jira dashboards to prevent failures from happening.


Big and complex projects could succeed with these two things: 


  • Agile approach with adaptability to change
  • Brilliant agile planning

How Waterfall Documentation Could Fail You

I've known of a company that is into making augmented reality (AR) solutions. The world of AR is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). This company consumes a lot of its time and effort on developing exemplary and detailed user interface (UI) designs that are supposed to be at the highest end of the high-fidelity spectrum.


While this company has some of the best app designers, they are often behind schedule in completing tasks and they often exceed the budget of the client, many of whom are not satisfied. 


You may ask why this is possible when they have the best app designers. 


Although the company professes to be agile, they have waterfall practices. In an ideal agile environment, developers should focus on prototyping and testing while the design team should be busily finalizing. But this is not the case for the company. Many of the design team members spend a lot of time participating in discussions with no solid actions.

They instead create mammoth documents on Confluence, filled with long-winded descriptions for every app feature. They had this waterfall practice wherein they first document all the information and requirements before starting any actual development work. This practice is far from agile.

Failure to Plan Means Planning to Fail


With the same company's waterfall approach, they spend more time on discussions. This meant that by the time they documented the features on Jira, they were already behind schedule and way over budget. At this point, you can expect the client to be unimpressed. 


As everyone became anxious to complete the task, the attention to planning diminished. Apart from all that, no one made a proper Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). This is a major mistake that further causes the company to fail. WBS is important to understand what work should be done for a given sprint. Without WBS, your Jira will be chaotic. 


With all the chaos going on and everyone cramming to complete their tasks, none of the plans initially drawn was followed. Many employees gave up their jobs so a project that's supposed to be handled by four developers is now being handled by one. The project manager and technical lead tried to compensate by performing backlog grooming and sprint planning, but these too did not work. All their efforts were doomed to failure.


5 Lessons Learned


  1. Be agile. 


Don't document everything at the onset of a project, as requirements and other factors may change along the way. Agile documentation means gathering information that is just good enough and timely. You need to limit the waterfall-style planning at the start of the process. You could plan better once you've already started.


  1. Plan digitally. 


Go beyond that whiteboard planning by documenting your plans on Jira. This way, everyone who is involved in the project can access your plan details at any time. 


  1. Make use of Jira and Confluence when planning.


If you are using Jira or Confluence, use the same platforms when planning. Jira doesn't have any planning tools built in, but you can add digital whiteboard tools like Miro or Agile Planning Boards. You may also use Jira dashboards for planning.


  1. Build a work breakdown structure. 


A WBS allows you to properly plan your next move. This is especially true for big and complex projects. You need to break down each project into manageable chunks. Also, make sure that you understand how each chunk relates to the others. When creating a WBS, you need to know and understand how your initiatives, epics, stories, and sub-tasks should be organized in Jira.


  1. Use your retrospectives for better planning.


The purpose of the retrospective is to look back at what your team did and how your project is going. You should learn from retrospectives and apply your learnings in your next planning discussion.

Planning Using Jira dashboards

If you're already working with actual Jira tickets, the Jira dashboard can be a planning tool. Jira dashboards are not only a reporting and monitoring tool. You can also use these dashboards for checking the status of your projects and planning what to do next based on your available data. 

However, it's important to note that mere native Jira gadgets will not get you far in planning. Native Jira is too limited in customization and functionality. With this in mind, you may consider using Custom Charts for Jira to create better planning dashboards. 

Here are some examples of the charts you can create using Custom Charts for Jira:


  • 2D stacked bar charts that show the number of issues per assignee. This can help the team leader identify who among the team members can handle more jobs and those who can benefit from an extra hand. 
  • Tile chart that highlights missed and upcoming deadlines. This chart is a good starting point for discussing your priorities.
  • Issue lists that show the key details of outstanding issues.

In the example above, the Custom Charts allow a viewer to filter data (using Simple Search which comes with Custom Charts) to focus on a particular assignee or set of issues. From the issue list, you can also click on each issue to view the details. These functionalities are useful for gathering insights that are useful for planning purposes.




Planning in native Jira may not give you the best experience. This is one of the reasons why the company I was telling you about failed. Moreover, an agile mindset makes a huge difference between success and failure. We should learn from the story of the company that failed.


Agile planning is like planning as you go. It's a good idea to start planning using a Jira whiteboard tool to create a WBS and get your project started. Once you have already started, You could slowly transition to using Jira dashboards and Custom Charts for Jira as planning tools.