When and why should you use checklists in Jira issues?

Getting a product in the hands of users as quickly as possible  – that seems to be the most important goal of software development teams. The reason is simple: real-world feedback is what matters the most and the purpose of any effective software development team is to deliver business value every sprint. Team members’ interactions are crucial to achieving the goal, especially in Scrum development, yet sometimes deliberate documentation can give a boost to effective collaboration. And here checklists are what proves the most.

Checklists are useful reminders, ensuring that your team members do not miss or overlook important steps in the development process. They help you become more productive because you can dedicate all your time for actually working – and not remembering what you were supposed to do first (or next). They make the whole software development process easier and better organised as they provide insight into the entire team’s work and they help team members save time.

 

Why checklists work for agile teams

These numerous advantages are the reason why agile teams willingly introduce checklists into Jira. Although Jira is powerful project management software, it cannot always meet specific custom-functionalities. For example, in Jira issues, tasks to complete are often hidden among numerous comments what makes it difficult to follow the completion of all ticket elements. Fortunately, Jira can be customized at almost every level. And this is also true for checklist plugins. 

Jira checklists plugins (also known as Jira apps or Jira add-ons) enable users to manage issues or tasks more effectively. Complicated issues may be split into clear and smaller steps, allowing for a detailed view of what needs to be done directly from the issue. In this way, the issue progress can be tracked and shared with all team members, allowing for continuous process improvement. Checklists plugins are also a good alternative to subtasks that, as we know, are not always suitable to use in a particular issue. And most importantly, such add-ons give you the opportunity to track your ToDo, Acceptance Criteria or Definition of Done – crucial for development teams using agile methodologies to finalize and complete the user story. 

Plain reasons for using checklists in Jira

There is no doubt that checklists are one of the best ways to track progress on complex issues or tasks, manage recurrent processes and organise an effective workflow. However, if you still do not feel convinced that you SHOULD use them in Jira, here are some sample use cases that may make you change your mind:

 

Definition of Done

 

A clear Definition of Done (DoD) is one of the most important elements of Agile product development. It builds a common understanding within the team about quality and completeness – in the sprint planning process, it simply makes it clear what your team is working towards. Keeping the DoD on sight for the whole team helps all its members verify if the task is done by the definition the team agreed to follow.  With SolDevelo’s plugin Multiple Checklists for Jira, a DoD checklist can be added to any Jira issues automatically. Moreover, developers or other team members can check DoD items off, once the criteria are met, to help visualize what hasn’t been completed yet.

 

Acceptance criteria 

The acceptance criteria mean test scenarios that should be met to confirm that the software is working as expected. So in other words, it is nothing more than a DoD that is specific to every user story – it forms the basis of user story acceptance testing which establishes the conditions for success. By introducing the acceptance criteria into Jira issues, you help both developers and testers to track which parts of the issue have been completed. They can check things off as they implement or test the given acceptance criterion.

 

Release checklist 

In many cases, releases require actions and coordination of multiple people who have to make sure that nothing was missed on the way. A checklist plugin in Jira can help you track those. For example, in Multiple Checklists for Jira, a user can create a checklist template named “Release checklist”. It may contain entries such as “Update documentation”, “Bump versions”, “Perform regression testing” – as well as a ticket created for each release. The release tickets will have the “Release checklist” added from a saved template. While working on releasing, the entries are checked by the people responsible for them. Once all items are checked, your team will be ready for release.

 

Service desk support 

In order to properly support your users, you usually need to collect enough information from them to make it possible to process their requests. But let’s be honest: the quality of support requests sent by users is very disputable. Using Multiple Checklists for Jira (in combination with Jira Service Management) can ensure that the service desk agents have the checklists of things they need to ask for at hand and can check off the things they already collected. Moreover, different checklists can be attached automatically depending on the request type the user sends, e.g. the checklist for bug report will be different from billing support.

 

Test plans 

After developers build a feature, they pass it to the quality assurance team (QA) for testing. The QA team writes and executes detailed test plans, for e.g. developed features, changes or fixes. Checklists in Jira will surely help your team plan all of the required tests, write them down and check them off once they are completed. In this way, testing becomes much more structured and you do not have to waste time repeating the same tests while missing out on other ones. 

 

Our recommendation  

The main role of checklists in Jira is supporting or enhancing the processes your team is dealing with. Checklists for software development are to improve the team’s process in order to provide greater business value to clients. And, equally important, they are a tool to make your work smoother and more effective. However, there is one thing to remember: checklists should never replace open communication and teamwork. At the end of the day, the decision whether to use them or not belongs to… the team itself.

 

Check SolDevelo’s plugin Multiple Checklists for Jira at https://marketplace.atlassian.com/apps/1220026/multiple-checklists-for-jira