Using JIRA for Project Tracking

Configure JIRA for Project Tracking

Ready to start tracking projects? Here are the things you should do to configure your JIRA instance as a project tracking machine:

  1. Create a Project
  2. Configure Issue Types
  3. Add a Custom Field
  4. Create Users
  5. Configure Groups and Roles
  6. Setup Permissions & Issue Security
  7. Customize your Workflow
  8. Create Issues

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Create a Project

Before you can create issues, you need to create a project to contain them.

  1. Click 'Administration' then 'Projects' under the 'Projects' tab. 'Add Project' is at the top right.
  2. Project Key is the short prefix for issues: 'ABC-123'. Note that this cannot be changed later.

You can also import data into JIRA from another bug tracker.


Documentation: Creating a Project

Learn how projects, issues, and workflows fit together in this 2 minute video:


Configure Issue Types

JIRA can be used to track many different types of issues, and by default includes:

  • Bug
  • Improvement
  • New Feature
  • Task
  • Sub-task

You can add any new issue types that make sense for your projects. Some ideas:

  • Wish List
  • Request
  • Change
  • Project
  • Documentation

Once you're ready to add new issue types to JIRA, go to Administration > Issues > Issue Types to add new ones to JIRA. Hint: press 'g g' then type 'issue types' to get there using the keyboard shortcut and Admin Quick Search!

Documentation: Issue Types

Add a Custom Field

JIRAs flexibility makes it an awesome tool for capturing information and tracking action items; the ability to customize issue fields is a great example of this. Here you'll walk through an example:

Go to Administration > Issues > Fields and create a new Custom Field. Choose the type Date Picker:


Name your custom field Review Date:

Leave the other options as-is (available for all issue types and all projects - don't worry, you can change that later). Select for it to appear on all screens. You will explore using and searching this new field in the Key Features section of this guide.

Documentation: Adding a Custom Field

Create Users

Unless you're exploring JIRA alone, you should start out by adding other users to your instance. Note that outgoing emails will only work if you have set up JIRA to send outgoing mail! (documentation at the bottom of the page)

  1. From 'Administration', select Users, then Add User.
  2. Locate the new user and click the 'Groups' link in the far right column.
  3. Select the appropriate groups for the new user:
  • 'jira-users' can create and edit issues
  • 'jira-developers' can create, edit and log work (time spent) against issues
  • 'jira-administrators' has full access to Administration
  • note: these are simply defaults - you can change them later.

Documentation: Managing Users, Managing Groups

Configure Groups and Roles

This is just a guess, but you probably have a number of people in your organization with different titles and roles. You can customize JIRA so that user roles in JIRA mimic people's roles within the company.

Groups are made up of JIRA users and can only be changed by JIRA administrators. Project Roles are made up of JIRA users and JIRA groups and can be changed per project by project administrators. Here's a bit of info on how to use them in conjunction.

Default project roles: Administrators, Developers and Users. For each role in every project, you can define who plays that role by adding a user or a group to the role.

Once you've chosen who plays each role for each project, you can use those roles to define project permissions. When you edit permissions, you'll notice that by default permissions are set up for roles - rather than individual users or groups. The great thing about this is that those roles, and hence the connected permissions, can be changed per project - by people who aren't JIRA administrators. This is especially helpful if you have a large number of users to maintain, and want to keep JIRA administration restricted to just a few.

Should I use a Group or a Role?

If you want to refer to the same set of users across multiple projects, use a Group. If you want to refer to a set of users that is different per project, use a Role.

Permissions & Issue Security

You can access all levels of security from JIRA Administration - try the Admin Quick Search box at the top!

Global Permissions apply to JIRA as a whole: things like who can log in, created shared filters/dashboards, and perform bulk changes. Go ahead and add 'administrators' to the Global Permission for 'Manage Group Filter Subscriptions'. 


Project Permissions control who can edit, delete, and perform other issue actions within a project.

Issue Security Levels allow the visibility of individual issues to be adjusted, within the bounds of the project's permissions.

No need to make changes to any of these, but it's important to know where they are as you continue to use JIRA. If you find yourself trying to perform an operation but can't - check your own permissions! 

Documentation: Managing Global PermissionsManaging Project Permissions, Configuring Issue Level Security

Customize your Workflow

Creating your own workflow is easy with JIRA's built-in Visual Workflow Designer. Simply create a copy of the default workflow or start a new one from scratch. In the Workflow Designer, just drag steps out of the side bar and add arrows between them for your transitions. See it in action:

Documentation: Configuring Workflow

Create Issues

Now get some data in that JIRA! 


Documentation: Creating an Issue