For many developers, designers, product managers, and all sorts of IT professionals, Atlassian’s Jira is an invaluable tool that makes their lives easier. From managing new projects to fixing bugs and tracking who’s doing what, Jira takes care of a giant chunk of daily operations for teams worldwide.
One of the things that you can use Jira for is to track and manage feature requests and ideas. Since these are related to the product anyways, Jira seems like a logical choice of app for the job.
But is it really? Today, we’ll find out how you can use Jira for customer feedback and feature requests and whether it’s the ideal tool for the job - and what to get instead.
Can you use Jira for feature requests and idea management?
In short, yes. While it’s not the primary use for Jira, the tool can be used for feature requests with a little bit of preparation in advance. The main difference between a proper feature request and feedback software is that a feedback board in Jira is not public.
In other words, whatever you create in Jira has to stay available to your team only. If you want to share your feedback board or create a roadmap, you have to export the data and use it in some other app to make it public for your entire audience.
In short, you’ll need to go to your Jira administration board and create a new project and title it Feature Requests or something along those lines.
Why you need a separate project
Jira is intended for product development - building a new software product or maintaining/fixing an existing one. Within Jira, work is organized into Projects. Those are then further divided into Boards for better organization.
Your product (development, backlog, bug fixes) should go into a completely separate project for one simple reason. Those are the issues that you are working on, while your feature requests are issues that you’re merely considering working on.
So, create a separate project and a board and title it “Feature Requests” or something similar. Note that you’ll need to have administrator access for this to work.
Define where to collect the requests
In order for the feature requests project to work, you need to determine which board will be used for this effort. Once you’ve given it a proper name, make sure to invite every user in Jira who needs access to this board.
As new feature requests come in, the team members assigned this task should add new entries to the board. As new votes, comments or labels come in, the designated team members should also add these to the feature requests board.
The main idea is to have everything neatly organized in one place for your product team to find. Needless to say, this can get very time and labor-intensive, so if you get a lot of feature requests, this may not be the ideal way to manage and categorize them.
Not all feature requests are the same. Jira offers a good level of flexibility here with custom labels that you can use on individual requests. You may want to organize your requests by more than the default criterion (area of the product), and this is the solution.
“Complexity” is a good label to use, where you make a ballpark estimate on how difficult it would be for your product team to build a certain feature. It’s a good way to put aside features that will take months to build from those which you can handle quickly.
“Customers” is another one that you can use to categorize requests based on the type of customer that requested the feature. For example, enterprise or SMB sector. If you have a small number of important customers, you can even categorize your requests based on the person who made the request.
Voting on behalf of customers
One of the most important things about feature requests is voting. When customers vote, you have a crystal clear idea about their actual needs and desires. While it’s not the most important factor for determining what to build, it gives you some guidance on what your customers need the most.
When you set up a new Jira board for feature requests, voting isn’t really that easy. In fact, it’s almost impossible.
Your customers can only vote if they’re a member of your organization in Jira. This is not only impractical (when you have a large number of customers), but also pricey. At about $7.50 per user per month, things can get really expensive really fast.
The workaround? Your own team voting on behalf of your customers.
In other words, your customers send in their votes to your team and they vote in Jira on behalf of the customer. In theory, sounds feasible.
In practice, you’ll have a hard time getting your customer support or sales team to add upvotes to Jira alongside their regular day-to-day duties. On top of this, your customers will be more likely to simply vote on their own rather than having a proxy do it for them.
Then there is the other limitation - Jira usually lets one team member vote once per issue. So you can only get as many upvotes as you have team members. In other words, if you have 20 upvotes on a feature request, you’ll have to get 20 team members to vote on it once to register that number of upvotes.
Simply put, upvoting features in Jira is impractical and makes no sense for an established product getting hundreds to thousands of upvotes monthly.
How to prioritize
Now that your feature requests are in a separate Jira board, you’re probably wondering which features to build first. This is never easy to determine, but there are several main criteria to use.
- Complexity: how long it takes to build a feature and how much it requires from you in terms of time and resources.
- Goal alignment: how well a feature aligns with the main business goals of the company.
- The immediate benefits: what the customers stand to gain if the feature gets built.
- The popular vote: how many customers in total want the feature to be built.
In Jira, you can track these by using labels. Well, except for the voting part, which you can’t really use in this app.
Who does this work for?
Having your feature requests in Jira works only for a limited number of people. Ideally, you need to have a strong product team with someone whose core responsibility is managing the feature requests and customer feedback. At the same time, you need to have a small enough number of customers where you don’t have to make 300 upvotes per month.
As you can see, these two cancel each other out. You can only use Jira for feature requests if your product is in its infancy and you have a small number of requests and upvotes coming in.
Benefits of dedicated software for feature requests and idea management
Instead of using your project management software for feature requests, consider using a dedicated feedback tool such as FeedBear. Using FeedBear makes it much easier to communicate with your customers, collect feature requests, manage them and move them from your feedback board to a live roadmap.
Some of the main advantages of using FeedBear for your feature requests over Jira include:
- A live feedback board for collecting feature requests, bug reports and other types of feedback
- Fully public access - all customers can see the board, make a feature request, comment on it, or leave an upvote
- Ease of setup - you can get started within minutes from signing up
- Closing the feedback loop - all customers that interact with a feature request (comment, upvote, create a request) get an email once the request is updated
- Direct access to an unlimited number of customers - no proxy voting. Customers can comment and upvote on their own
- Increased transparency by connecting your feature requests to a public roadmap
- Show your progress on the roadmap and by updating your changelog
- There is no need to learn Jira’s complex user interface - customers can use FeedBear without any prior knowledge of the software
Overall, with FeedBear being so easy to use and it covering all the needs a product team might have, it doesn’t make much sense to use Jira. Want to give FeedBear a go? Sign up for a free trial today!
Can you use Jira to track and manage feature requests? In short - yes. However, it’s not very quick or efficient and if you get a lot of feedback, it just makes no sense. Instead, try to use a dedicated app for feature requests - such as FeedBear!
You can plug FeedBear into your Jira account effortlessly with the supported Jira integration. FeedBear does all of the heavy lifting for you so you can focus on doing what you do best - communicating with your customers and making them happy. Sign up for a free trial today to get started!