Project Management

Sprints vs Versions in Jira: Navigating Your Agile Journey

Whether you are a team of 4 hustling through a garage or a team of 50 that is part of a large organisation, you’ve thought about doing ‘Agile’. While fundamentally agility means nimbleness, being ‘agile’ does not mean ‘doing as you wish’. There is a method to the madness. There are ceremonies, roles, shared artefacts & what not. 

Sprints & Versions are two such pivotal concepts helping teams in organizing & tracking progress. It is imperative for any software development team to understand & use them in their planning & execution. Let’s dive into what these terms mean, their significance in software development, and how they manifest within our beloved Project management tool Jira.

Sprints and Versions: The Fundamentals

If a software development team plans to iteratively complete a set amount of work in consecutive time-boxed periods, then they are doing their work in ‘Sprints’. These execution cycles can range from a duration of just one week to lengthy 4 weeks. Sprints form a core component of the Scrum processes. They provide a structured, flexible way for teams to make tangible progress on a regular basis while constantly evaluating & adjusting based on ongoing feedback & changing requirements.

If you didn’t know – Lollipop, Oreo, Marshmallow are names of different versions of the Android operating system. Thus, versions are milestones in your product development lifecycle. A version is a snapshot or a state of your product at any given point in time, that is delivered to the end users. Versions help your team & your end users to make sense of the progress that was made in the software.

Typically, progress made from one or more ‘sprints’ put together will be presented to the users in a ‘version’.

Sprints and Versions in Jira

Jira, used by thousands of software development teams around the world, has evolved to support robust functionalities to manage both sprints and versions.

  • Sprints in Jira: Use a Scrum project in Jira to enable your teams to plan, execute, and track work in sprints. One can configure Jira in such a way that teams can easily visualize the sprint backlog, nudge tasks through their workflows, and monitor progress in real-time. Idea is to let sprints guide teams to focus on delivering incremental value.
    • Best Practice: Keep lengths of your sprints consistent to establish a rhythm. Rely on the “Sprint Burndown” gadget in Jira to monitor remaining work and mobilise resources to hit the team goals.
  • Versions (also referred to as ‘Releases’) in Jira: Progressive delivery is a key motivation behind how Jira lets you manage versions in a Software project. At the heart of it, it is all about organizing issues into buckets to formulate meaningful versions or releases. This feature is instrumental in planning what goes into a release, tracking progress, and communicating delivery timelines to stakeholders.
    • Best Practice: Keep all stakeholders in the know by regularly disseminating release notes & reports. Use the “Version Report” gadget to track progress towards completion and forecast release dates.

But how? 

Knowing when to use a sprint vs when to plan a release is key to deriving maximum value. Sprints are ideal for managing day-to-day development work, maintaining momentum, and adapting to changes quickly. Versions, however, are best suited for short to mid-term planning, release management, and communicating progress externally.

Jira Dashboard Gadgets and Reports

Jira Dashboard Gadgets and Reports

Keep it simple silly. Use the native dashboard gadgets and reports Jira has to offer around sprints and versions. Surface the relevant data to empower your teams to make informed decisions. For example:

  • Sprint Health Gadget: Gives you an overview of the current sprint’s health, including completed and remaining work.
  • Release Burndown: Tracks the remaining work against the days left in the release, helping teams understand if they’re on track to meet version deadlines.
  • Version Report: Offers insights into a version’s progress, highlighting completed work and predicting future completion dates based on current velocity.

Conclusion

Sprints and versions, in essence, are two distinctive aspects of the same construct. They are supposed to help you better organise, track & monitor progress on  your software development project. While sprints facilitate agility and responsiveness, versions provide structure and visibility into the product evolution. 

In Jira, harnessing the power of both allows teams to balance short-term achievements with long-term objectives, driving efficient and effective product development.

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