Top 5 Reasons Your Jira Backlog Fails You

There’s a strong chance you and your dev team are already relying on Jira for backlog management of technical projects, assigning bugs and scheduling sprints. And while Jira can be fantastic for managing these aspects, it has downsides as a thorough system of record for product management; most importantly, Jira often becomes a dumping ground for feedback and ideas without any purposeful priorities. A black hole of input makes Agile development methods really tricky.

You have limited time and a specific set of management duties – You’re only interest is on-time deliverables. By creating a consistent, more efficient and data-driven prioritization process, you can accomplish your goals – and isn’t that the point after all?

So how does Atlassian’s Jira get in the way of mitigating this, “consistent, more efficient and data-driven prioritization process?”

Here are five challenges Atlassian’s Jira may already be causing you:

Challenge #1: Evaluating And Prioritizing Quickly

The vast majority of informative data remains trapped in generic “Description” and “Comment” text boxes. It’s all too common Jira ends up populated with minimally detailed entries or exhaustive explanations. Because these details are deeply hidden, the value of the information your customer & sales teams have collected limits the usefulness of what’s been recorded.

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Have you come across a large number of generic “Labels” and “Priorities?” I’d be willing to bet you have. There just aren’t enough tools, levers, and/or filters to really place value upon the data that’s been painstakingly accumulated. You need a tool that answers relevant questions, such as:

  • “How many current customers actually need this?”
    • “Which customers specifically?”
    • “How much are they worth to the business?”
    • “Which customer segments do they represent?”
  • “Is this something that’s causing customers to churn?”
  • “How often does this come up during onboarding or initial adoption?”
    • “Is this an adoption blocker?”
  • “Is this a feature our salespeople need to put us ahead of the competition or close more deals?”

Jira simply doesn’t offer an easy way to assign answers and rankings for these types of questions to each entry without burying them in a text box.

Challenge #2: Scalability

The longer you’re in business, the more product feedback your teams are likely to receive. As more customers come online, the problem starts growing exponentially. As volume increases, how does one rapidly log and detail what you can no longer keep in your head? The system you’re relying on becomes that much more important.

With Jira, entries can easily pile up and become unwieldy. They also start to lose their context as the numbers of tickets increase. Spotting trends, seeing what’s more recent and still pressing and whether it’s from a current and active customer becomes much more difficult.

Backlog management is all about prioritizing what should get your development team’s precious attention, which is why you want to focus on the features and fixes that will be most valued by your most engaged customers. Sifting through endless digital piles of random requests won’t help you achieve that goal easily.

Challenge #3: Answer Important Questions

As companies mature and objectives evolve, product managers are tasked with creating products that reduce churn, land new customers, and create recurring and sustainable revenue streams. Building strategic relationships with enterprise customers that will propel businesses to new heights mean a whole other level of analysis.

  • “Which features and functionality will have the greatest influence on reducing churn?”
    • Such as “What functionality requests are most common from currently unsatisfied customers who are up for renewal within the next six months?”
  • “What functionality are we missing that causes sales prospects to select a competitor?”
    • “How much missed revenue does that represent?”
    • “Do they still buy despite missing functionality and the sales team is blowing the need out of proportion?”

Challenge #4: How To Determine ROI

Coming up with great ideas based on customer feedback is the easy part of product management; figuring out which ones are worth the opportunity cost (and actual cost) of building out is the tricky bit. This is where Jira reveals it’s shortcomings.

There’s no way to ascertain what the level of effort for each feature request is relative to which features should move to the front of the queue. Nor can you easily determine which features will result in achieving your key goals.

Determining potential increases in sales revenue, product usage, customer retention & satisfaction all lie outside of the scope for what Jira was designed to do. There just isn’t a simple solution to weigh features against each other when utilizing such a tool.

Challenge #5: Wasted Time

In Jira, it takes about five to eight minutes to create compelling and context-rich user stories and issues–which frankly, is simply too long. It’s more time than most people have to dedicate to this activity when you factor in just how much feedback every customer service rep, account manager, salesperson, and product manager is receiving on a regular basis. If the process takes too long or is too cumbersome, it just won’t be done consistently. That means valuable backlog items might end up dropped and forgotten.

From an efficiency perspective, Jira is rarely the primary system to record customer feedback. In most cases, you’ll be asking people to input information a second time, which again, is time wasted. Not everyone lives in Jira all day, so there’s a strong likelihood for duplicate entries as agents may not always search for—or know how to find—pre-existing Jira’s that match the one they’re attempting to create.

When it comes to connecting customer teams to product development teams, Jira just doesn’t have a solid feedback mechanism for requests and observations to be evaluated and prioritized. If your folks on the front line aren’t getting the necessary positive reinforcement that entering this feedback is a worthwhile task, it’s a step they’re likely to devalue and skip in the future.

Closing The Loop

Feedback is a precious source material for building a fully customer-centric organization. In order to make it work efficiently, documentation, tracking, prioritizing and informing future plans have to be as effortless as possible – so when a goldmine of input is identified amongst large volumes of customer input, all of your customer-facing employees are enabled with a fast and frictionless method for turning product feedback into profits.

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