Jira is one of the best-known project management tools out there, especially for Agile teams (it’s a great agile tool). Developed by Atlassian — which is also the company behind one of our favorite other tools, Trello — Jira boasts a large number of features, mostly geared toward developers. To see how it fares against the competition, keep reading our Jira review.
- Jira is first and foremost aimed at software development. If you’re not into information technology, it’s probably not for you.
- Jira probably has the best value, mid-range plan out there. At only $7 per user per month, it’s cheaper than anything the competition offers by far.
- Using Jira is really easy, and it also has a great free plan, making it a perfect fit for a small, inexperienced software studio.
In earlier Jira reviews, our project management experts weren’t really sure what to think of the software. While it had some great abilities when it came to issue tracking and task management, few functions worked nearly as well as they should. A few years later, however, and Jira has launched its “next-gen project” version, and it seems to have grown well into its new skin.
Still, we are left with a gnawing feeling that something is missing. Jira is aimed at software development teams, and we’re not devs, so that may be part of the problem. However, we feel Jira could do so much more than it does, especially compared to market leaders like monday.com. Read our monday.com vs Jira article to see what our front-runner does better.
That said, Jira’s pricing is out of this world, with probably the best cheap plan in the game, plus one of the best free plans. Though it won’t easily snag the title of best free project management software from its sibling Trello or competitor Asana, it’s undoubtedly a strong contender. Stick with this Atlassian Jira review for all the details, or check out our best project management software roundup for an alternative.
Jira is a project management tool that’s aimed at software development, but other types of teams can use it, too.
Jira has a few great features, but it’s most prominent are its use of Agile scrum boards, its gentle learning curve and a great roadmap that lets you plan out computer software development.
Jira’s main benefits are that it’s cheap, has a great user experience and is constantly being worked on by Atlassian, meaning updates are plentiful.
Jira has an excellent free plan, but to get the most out of it, we recommend you check out the paid plans. The Standard plan, especially, is really great value at just $7 per user per month.
Top Alternatives for Jira
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Great free plan
- Very friendly pricing
- Very easy to use
- Aimed at software devs
- Too much technical jargon
- 100 users required for discounts
- Lacks versatility
Jira — or Jira Software, if you ask Atlassian — was developed as a management solution for software development. That means that a lot of the terminology it uses (and we’ll get to that) and many of its features are reliant on the Agile methodology.
It also means that if you’re not running a software studio using scrum and kanban, Jira won’t be too useful for you. Read our Kanban vs Scrum guide to learn how the two tools differ.
However, specialization is far from a bad thing, especially if you’re the target for that specialization. Jira offers a ton of features that will let companies focused on information technology and services keep track of their projects, and all the Jira features are nicely spread out over four plans.
Jira’s Free Plan
Unlike most project management solutions, Jira’s free plan is a full suite of features. Paid plans offer some very nice extras, but if all you want to do is keep track of your latest software project, you don’t have to spend a penny on Jira. It’s a great option for small studios that want an Agile-focused tool. Note that company size matters, as you can only have 10 users on this plan.
Free users get scrum and kanban boards, allowing them to track tasks, in general, as well as during sprints, plus roadmaps to create more long-term goals. You also have a backlog, allowing you to list issues and then work them into your scrum. You can designate scrum issues into types, as well; for example, allowing you to designate them as a bug-tracking task.
That’s it for task management, really, as Jira is a pretty simple tool. However, there are a few interesting extras, like a time-tracking tool (under the “issues” button at the top of your dash) and some basic reporting options. When testing out Jira, we found that it worked well, but we very much missed the advanced views of monday.com or Wrike, limiting Jira’s usefulness a little.
Paid Plan Features
The paid plans only add some specific features as well as expand the number of allowed users, so we can imagine that small teams could go years without even considering upgrading. The main benefits to the Standard plan are that you get extra control over who can do what in Jira, plus a security log to see which team members accessed the program. You also get 250GB of file storage rather than 2GB.
The Premium plan further expands the security aspect with IP allowlisting and admin insights, letting you see how efficient people are with their use of Jira. You also get advanced roadmaps, which allow even more control over setting long-term goals, and unlimited file storage. That’s more than even the best cloud storage services offer.
The last tier, Enterprise, allows even more high-level actions, most of them aimed at security. Much like with Asana’s Enterprise plan, this is all about fine-tuning access control, though Jira also lets you decide where your data is hosted, which can come in handy.
Overall, depending on your company size and needs, you may want to consider upgrading. We talk more about the pros and cons in our “pricing” section below. However, with Jira, as with Basecamp, upgrading is more about giving as many people access than gaining extra features. We think it’s a good thing, especially considering upgrading is pretty cheap.
Jira Storage Allowance
Below an overview of the storage allowance per plan.
Another big strength of Jira Software is the huge amount of integrations it supports. Much like with its sibling, Trello (we talk more about how the two play together in our Jira vs Trello piece), a huge part of Jira’s strength comes from the number of plug-ins you can add. However, do note that some you need to pay for.
You can find any and all third-party integrations in the Atlassian Marketplace, which is your one-stop shop for all kinds of handy extra apps. Examples include Gantt charts, extra views (charts and the like), a bug-tracking tool or other handy task management gadgets. If Jira is what you need, but you’re missing one extra feature, you should be able to find it here. You can even integrate Jira with Slack.
Jira Features Overview
|Multiple project management|
|Native scrum management|
|Set user permissions|
|Free Trial||7 days|
Overall, Jira has cheap and transparent pricing, though things can get a little weird for larger organizations. That’s due to the way the cost scales for organizations with more than a hundred people, with the monthly plans feeling especially arbitrary. We talk about that at length in our piece on Jira pricing; we’ll only set our baseline in this review.
- Max. 10 users. unlimited boards, reports and insights; backlog; basic roadmaps; 2GB of storage; community support
- Annual price is for 10 users; with more than 10, annual pricing changes based on the number of users. Monthly pricing changes with teams over 100.
- Annual price is for 10 users; with more than 10, annual pricing changes based on the number of users. Monthly pricing changes with teams over 100.
We went over the features of each plan in the features section, so please refer back to that if you’d like to know more about what’s included in which plan. Also, note that the Standard and Premium plans have a one-month free trial.
We like the progression of Jira’s plans when it comes to price. The free tier is a solid project management tool all by its lonesome, and the Standard logically builds on it with an increase to just $7.5 per user per month, even less if you pay year-by-year, which puts it firmly on the cheap end of the market. Only Freedcamp gets close among our top 10.
The jump to Premium adds another seven bucks, to a total of $14.5 per user per month, though again, paying annually can bring it down even further. This tier includes mostly high-end functionality used by project managers juggling multiple projects or those dealing with advanced software development. This is dirt cheap for such a high tier.
The fact that Jira puts these advanced tasks in Premium and leaves all regular functions in its free and Standard plans is great, and we wish more of its competitors did this. Asana, for example, puts some of its more useful features in its most expensive plan (which is $25), forcing you to pony up some serious dough to get access; read our full Asana vs Jira piece for the details.
We would have liked to have given you some indicative pricing of the Enterprise plan, but the Jira sales team never deigned to reply to our query. If you have a rough idea of what Atlassian charges for the Enterprise solution, please drop us a line below in the comments.
Jira is extremely user friendly for both beginners and veterans alike. The interface is clearly laid out and you can jump from board to function to code very quickly. We especially like its tutorials, which should get people new to project management — or new to working with software teams — started within minutes.
That’s the good news, here’s the bad: jargon. So. Much. Jargon. We’ve gone over a lot of software while writing up our project management software reviews here at Cloudwards, and Jira is the worst offender by far. No other tool uses this many buzzwords — many of them made up by Jira — and very few of them making sense.
It makes a lot of the documentation hard to understand at first and is just annoying. A few examples: instead of calling tasks “tasks,” Jira calls them “issues.” Though it’s not much effort to realize tasks and issues are the same thing, it can be a bit annoying. Words like “goals” are also gone, replaced with “epics,” then subdivided into “user stories” and further split into “story points.”
We realize some of it is inherent to the Agile methodology, which attracts some pretty fervent support (calling meetings “ceremonies” is just cultish), but at times, you feel like Winston Smith making sense of doublespeak. Here’s one example where you can play buzzword bingo.
With that little rant out of the way, let us emphasize that it’s still easy to use; the language is just a small hurdle.
Getting Started with Jira Software
Signing up to Jira is pretty easy: like with a lot of project management software, you can use the free plan to get acquainted with the program before deciding to pay for it or not. From the Jira website, just click on the “get it free” button in the top right of the screen and follow the instructions.
During signup, you’ll get the chance to pick another Jira product to partner with the basic Jira Software, if you’d like. Your options are Jira Confluence or Jira Service Management. Confluence is like a virtual workspace, basically Slack on steroids, while Service Management is a place where you can easily process support tickets from users through a virtual service desk.
Never ones to pass up free stuff, we opted for the two-for-the-price-of-none package. Since we like to focus on collaboration and working together, we went with Confluence. Also, we don’t much know about customer support, except to complain when it’s taking too long.
Whatever you end up picking, click on it. The next few screens are pretty standard: enter your email address and pick a name for the Atlassian site where your Jira boards will be hosted (OK, not so standard that one, but pretty handy). Next are a few questions about you and your organization and you are on your way: within a few minutes, you’ll be looking at your very first board.
Is Jira Difficult to Learn?
The first thing you’ll notice when you’re finally on your board is that everything is laid out exceptionally well. Jira was kind enough to put a big sidebar to the right, called “quickstart,” that will have you learning how to use Jira Software very quickly. As such, this makes Jira very easy to learn, if you’re willing to put up with tons of jargon.
We really like the quickstart menu as it gives you a great overview of what Jira Software can do, without getting in the way. Although we really like the way, say, monday.com and Asana use pop-ups to get you acquainted with their apps, other project management tools aren’t as subtle. On the other end, TeamGantt also uses a sidebar, but only shows you video, without tooltips.
Jira has found a middle way by letting you pick on what issues you want to see pop-ups, which to read a full tutorial and which to see a video. Some subjects have all three, like the setup lesson, while some only have two, like how to create an issue. That lets you move at your own pace, using your medium of choice, and we just love it.
General Ease of Use
Once you’re past getting to know it and have gotten to grips with the jargon, you’ll quickly find that Jira is very user friendly indeed. The user interface is laid out simply and clearly, and you can easily jump from screen to screen.
Depending on what you’re working on, you will be doing most of your work on either kanban boards or scrum boards. Note that you can’t have both on a single project. Either board works well, but we wish there were a few more views, as we mentioned in the “features” section. The kanban board does what a kanban board does best, move cards around.
As we’ve mentioned, cards stand for “issues” rather than tasks, but that doesn’t actually change the way they behave. You drag and drop them as a task progresses, and you can click on a card to tweak any details. You can also add so-called child issues, or subtasks, that work like checklists in Trello or Asana do.
Your other board option is a scrum board, which looks like a kanban board, but isn’t, not really. Rather than let you organize overall workflow, it lets you set up sprints, parts of a project that need to be done in a set amount of time with specific goals (called user stories) in mind. Software teams often work from sprint to sprint, so the scrum boards show Jira’s roots.
The scrum board is as easy to work with as the kanban board. You create issue cards in the backlog screen (accessible from the left-hand sidebar) and then import them to the board. Compared to ClickUp and monday.com — the only other scrum-enabled tools we’ve reviewed — it works smoothly, and we like how the rest of the app is geared toward the scrum board.
Other User Interface Options
Besides the boards, there isn’t much else going on in Jira, and the best place to see that is by casting your eye over the left-hand sidebar, which only has six tabs — seven if you’re on the scrum board.
The most important of the remaining tabs is the roadmap, where you set “epics” (big goals), which are then broken up into “user stories,” which are smaller goals. This terminology is very specific to Agile project management, and as such, is very much geared toward software development.
Still, though, we were able to make sense of it after messing with it. However, Agile veterans will probably do better than we did.
You set an epic by selecting the “plus” icon on the left, and you change its parameters and details by clicking on it, much like with an issue. It’s pretty easy to use and will give you a lot of overview, though probably not as much as with an actual Gantt chart. We do like how it can break projects into small chunks.
The “code” and “add item” tabs exist mainly to connect outside resources to your project or particular issues; think things like code, or particularly important links to workspaces and bug tracking modules. “Code” is also where you can set up Bitbucket integrations. It works really well to keep everything in the same place.
The “project pages” tab is where you can link up the Jira Software with Confluence, the workspace we mentioned in the beginning of this section. We like how it gives you a large set of templates to work with so that you can jot down what you need to share with the team and then just move on.
Jira Software Mobile App
Like most of its competitors, Jira also has a mobile app, and just like the rest of the market, the app isn’t great. It mostly serves as a way to quickly add or remove a detail while on the way from work more than anything else. That has a smooch to do with the limitations of mobile devices’ tiny screens than anything else, though.
Overall, the app is pretty user friendly, even a little better than competitors’ thanks to Jira’s simplicity. Still, though, it can’t hold a candle to using the browser version.
Security & Privacy
As an Atlassian product, Jira’s security and privacy are OK, no more, no less. As Atlassian hosts files using AWS, that means Amazon handles the bulk of at-rest security, which has its drawbacks for users: despite having excellent encryption, AWS buckets spring leaks quite often.
Other than that, Jira encrypts files in transit using TLS 1.2 and is SOC-2 Type I certified. You also get access to two-factor authentication, giving you further control over who can access your files. The upshot is that, unless there’s a bucket problem with AWS, your files are safe.
The news on the privacy front is a little less rosy: Atlassian tracks what you do, stores that data and shares it with third parties. So far, we’ve not received reports of any ads being targeted the way of Jira users. Generally speaking, though, you can assure some marketer somewhere is doing something immoral with your data if you use an Atlassian product.
That said, it is the price of free, so if Jira is worth your data, then you do get a pretty spiffing project management tool for your trouble. However, if you prefer your private matters remain so, check out our Airtable review.
Service & Support
Atlassian support always has scored pretty well here at Cloudwards, and this time is no different. The software comes with a massive knowledgebase that acts as the Jira service desk, offering you a wealth of tutorials, guides and other tips, as well as the quickstart sidebar we mentioned in our “user-friendliness” section.
If, somehow, you don’t find the answer to your question here, you can always try the forum, called Atlassian Community, where both staff and fellow users will try and help you through any issues. If somehow that doesn’t solve your issue, then you either need to give up or upgrade to get access to a ticket-based support system.
By all accounts, this personal, one-on-one support is very good, but we weren’t able to verify that ourselves, as we kept being thrown back to the main service desk and its helpful reminder to ask the community. If your mileage has varied, please let us know in the comments below.
Overall, we really like Jira here at Cloudwards. The software has definitely improved since we last reviewed it, and it’s a sleek, user-friendly tool that should have competitors take notice. If you’re developing software, it’s a great tool, and we would recommend that you check it out before any others, despite some of its weaknesses.
If you’re not developing software, though, you may want to give Jira a miss as its flaws may be a bit too much to bear. We have an article that delves deeply to find the best Jira alternatives. The lack of built-in overview is a huge handicap for most ventures, and the jargon shouldn’t be dealt with by anybody not forced into the Agile environment.
However, if you’re still on the fence, you should give it a shot yourself using the free plan, which requires nothing more than an email address to join. What do you think of Jira? Did we miss any vital benefit or flaw in this review? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.