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How To Do Resource Planning In Jira: My Workaround & Tips

Jira resource planning: this functionality remains elusive in the project management software that PMs love to hate. Don’t get me wrong—Jira is a powerhouse—that’s why we keep using it! With Jira, you can simplify the project planning process, promote collaboration, and gain insight into the progress of ongoing tasks without having to bother your team members.

But, what Jira software does well on a micro level doesn’t always translate into big picture insights or the types of things your senior stakeholders care about. If you’ve ever found yourself disappointed by Jira’s lackluster resource planning options, you’re not alone.

GIF of girls raising their hands from mean girls
Raise your hand if you've ever felt personally victimized by Jira's subpar resource planning options.

I’ve spent many an afternoon silently cursing my computer screen as I attempted to wrangle Jira’s vast wealth of data into an appropriate format for executives. In this article, we’ll explain the nature of Jira’s resource planning shortcomings and suggest some potential workarounds.

Resource Planning In Jira

Let’s start off by reviewing existing Jira features that support agile resource planning, albeit in a limited capacity.

Related Read: 10 Best Capacity Planning Software For Project Managers In 2022

Jira Roadmap: Basic

The first time I saw this option in Jira, I thought, “Fantastic. I’ll click on that and generate a resource management plan that I can send to an executive lickety-split.”

GIF of man office worker laughing from The Office
More seasoned project managers laughing at my naivete when it comes to the out-of-the-box capabilities of project management software.

The issue? The basic Jira roadmap is, well, basic. It displays the project epics, and you can zoom into the epics to view the child tickets.

Basic Jira Roadmap Screenshot
Jira roadmap basic view, showing project epics and associated child tickets.

For a fleeting moment, I thought that the filter options might show the additional detail I was seeking. While you can filter by person to see who contributed to a task, Jira’s basic roadmap does not offer a summary view by person.

Basic Jira Roadmap Assignee Filtered Screenshot
Jira roadmap basic view, filtered by assignee.

In Jira’s defense, a project roadmap does not necessarily imply resource management. We as project managers people are simply greedy and wish the software could do everything we want it to do. Jira is intended primarily for issue tracking, not for long-term planning.

Jira Roadmap: Advanced

If your organization pays for the premium version of Jira, you’ll have access to the advanced roadmap feature. Advanced roadmaps let you track work progress across multiple teams.

Advanced Jira Roadmap Screenshot
In this screenshot, you can see the progress of epics and stories for the Android Team and the iOS Team. This level of detail is available with Jira’s advanced roadmaps.

Advanced roadmaps also have greater filtering capabilities than basic roadmaps. For example, on one massive software project I worked on, we used the component field to group Jira issues within a project. You can summarize ongoing work by component in Jira advanced roadmaps, which is not an option for Jira basic roadmaps.

When it comes to Jira resource planning capabilities, Jira advanced roadmaps get us closer to what we’re seeking. You can delve into active sprints to understand how many story points you’ve allocated in the context of your sprint velocity. But, you still can’t track work at the individual level.

Jira Epics Stories Progress Screenshot
In this screenshot, you can see the progress of epics and stories for the Android Team and the iOS Team. This level of detail is available with Jira advanced roadmaps.

If you’re still not satisfied with Jira’s resource planning capabilities, neither am I. Jira is an agile project management tool. Like your flaky friend who can’t commit, Jira changes plans rapidly. Jira is not trying to help you plan more than a sprint ahead. But that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a long-term commitment.

In the next section, we’ll explore workarounds to help you get the most out of your Jira data so you can develop an effective resource management plan.

Option #1: Export Jira Data to CSV

This option is the most manual—it’s good old-fashioned data manipulation fun that takes me back to my consultant days.

The first step is to export the data out of Jira and into a CSV file format.

Export Jira Data To CSV Screenshot
Screenshot showing how to export Jira data to CSV.

Once the data is in a CSV format, you can sort and filter it, experiment with resource allocation, and create charts that visualize the information you care about. Check out the video walkthrough for an example of how I’ve manipulated the data for my sample Jira project.

  • Pros: You can heavily customize the output by sorting and filtering the data any way your executives might dream up; no expensive integrations required.
  • Cons: This method is labor-intensive and doesn’t sync real-time with Jira. That means you’ll have to rerun reports as often as your executives want them. First-time setup can also be cumbersome and complicated.

Option #2: Integrate Jira with a Data Visualization Application

If the idea of manually manipulating your data makes you want to cry, I understand. In this case, and if your organization has the appetite, you could consider integrating Jira with a data visualization application that takes care of the heavy lifting when it comes to resource planning.

For example, you could create a chart that shows average ticket completion time (I’d recommend aggregating this data by team, rather than by person, to avoid potential Big Brother vibes.) You could also track carryover story points by sprint to identify where your estimates may be falling short and improve the accuracy of your estimates in future sprints. 

To help with this, the Atlassian marketplace offers integrations with Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Qlik, and more. If your organization uses Looker, don’t fret. If you can snag some developer time for initial setup, you can also connect your Jira data with Looker. Here’s an example of some data visualization queries you could set up using a Jira-Power BI integration.

Jira Power Bi Integration Screenshot
Check out the Atlassian website for more information about the Jira-Power BI integration.
  • Pros: Integrations eliminate the need for data manipulation by offering options to quickly create aesthetically pleasing visualizations. Data syncs real-time with Jira, so your execs can check the numbers over their Saturday morning coffee, like they do. (No promises that they won’t immediately ping you with questions on the content!)
  • Cons: Pricing for these types of integrations can be cost-prohibitive for a smaller organization. The custom graphs may not be tailored to resource planning.

Option #3: Integrate Jira with a Resource Planning Application

In case the prior two solutions don’t meet your needs, there is a third option. You can search the Atlassian marketplace for resource planning plugins that integrate with Jira. Searching the term “resource planning” yielded 13 results.

Atlassian Marketplace Resource Planning Applications Screenshot
Screenshot of applications in the Atlassian marketplace associated with the keyword "resource planning".

I tested out a couple options, including Tempo Planner, which advertises itself as “a resource planning solution empowering businesses to optimize workforce capacities.”

I was disappointed to find that Tempo Planner was more about time tracking (read: timesheets) than resource planning. You can integrate Tempo Planner with your calendar to track meetings, the idea being that you can then log time spent in these meetings against the relevant Jira tickets. Useful for timesheets to be sure, but not exactly what I’d call resource planning.

The drag-and-drop interface was slick. But, when I tried to add tasks to my resource plan, the application did not save the story points that I had assigned to the task. Instead, it assumed each task took a full day’s work to complete. If it is possible to adjust this setting, doing so wasn’t intuitive.

Finally, the report that Tempo Planner generated wasn’t super impressive. Hilariously, Tempo Planner seems to know that and offers an option to export the report image to Excel.

Tempo Planner Report Screenshot
Sample report generated using Tempo Planner.

I didn’t find much to write about when experimenting with the other options either. Not to toot my own horn, but I was able to produce more interesting charts by exporting my Jira data to Excel myself (see option #1 in this article.)

GIF of a student stretching gum with her finger from clueless
How project managers feel once they've successfully generated a snazzy resource planning report.

Takeaways For Resource Planning In Jira

In this article, we’ve explored potential solutions to efficient resource planning using Jira. The takeaway? Jira resource planning plugins don’t seem to hit the mark. (BTW—if you’re looking for alternative resource management software options to Jira, DPM has got you covered.)

The next best thing. If you’re able to convince your organization to spend a little extra dough, integrating Jira with a data visualization application could be worth the investment, especially if there is a business case to expand its use across your project portfolio.

But, if springing for a formal integration is not an option, I’d recommend the low-budget approach to portfolio management—export Jira data and design your own graphs. You’ll have to manually copy over the data and rerun the report each time, but your ability to customize reporting may make the pain worth the prize.

Looking for more information on project resource management? Check out Sarah M. Hoban’s blog or subscribe to the Digital Project Manager newsletter for more sources of great project management content.

List of Related Tools: Project Roadmap Software

By Sarah Hoban

Sarah is a project manager and former strategy consultant with 10+ years of experience leading cross-functional teams to execute high-risk multi-million dollar projects. She excels at diagnosing and prioritizing project problems and building and maintaining strong relationships to improve how teams do business. Sarah is passionate about productivity, leadership, building community, and her home state of New Jersey.

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