A while back, we did a quick overview of using epics, components, and labels in Jira. In this article, we are focusing solely on components, how they are unique from other configurations, and what type of values teams should consider using for these components.
Jira is a unique piece of software that allows you to customize the application and build your team’s business processes into the tool. Processes in Jira can be incredibly robust, thanks to Jira’s flexible workflows. However, there is more to the process (and your team’s user experience) than just the workflow.
There are numerous other components (if you will) to configuring projects in Jira that work together to create the overall process, from how users create new tickets, to defining what data points are available, and what reports can be created after the work has been completed.
Additionally, these configurations allow us (for better or worse) to determine the user experience for teams using the system. If you haven’t experienced it yet, it is incredibly frustrating when you’re trying to use Jira when the project configuration doesn’t make sense or when fields are unclear or have too many options.
It’s important that project administrators and Jira administrators understand best practices for each configuration and how all of the configurations work together to define the process and experience.
In this article, we’re discussing one specific project configuration in Jira, Components.
What are Components in Jira?
In their documentation, Atlassian gives us the following definition:
Components are subsections of a project. They are used to group issues within a project into smaller parts.
This may feel a little vague, but I believe that to be intentional. This is because each team uses components very differently, depending on how that team is built and how that team works together. For instance, a software development team will have a very different idea of what constitutes a component, compared to a Marketing or HR team.
Stated simply, components are a special custom field in Jira that (just like other custom fields) can be configured and added to a project’s screens. Components (just like other custom fields) can capture data that help determine responsibility or support more meaningful reports. However, unlike other custom fields, Components have a few unique characteristics and features that can help you easily segment issues within your project and help streamline your processes.
Components are unique to each project within Jira and can be managed independently by each project’s administrators, in the project settings. As a project admin, you can create new components or edit existing components without ever having to request changes from your system administrators.
Each component has the option to designate a specific user as that component’s lead. This can be an easy way to determine initial ownership of newly created tickets in your project. You can then easily set up different dashboards or issue filters to help those leads manage their work.
Optionally, you can also configure each component to have a unique default assignee when a new issue is created. Project administrators can use the same designated default assignee as the rest of the project (like the project lead), leave the issue unassigned, or can choose to assign the issue directly to the designated component’s lead.
When Should I Use Components?
Your mind may be racing with ideas on how you could use these features. But, like with all things in Jira, the ability to customize the application gives the user great power; and with great power, comes the ability to make a huge mess and a frustrating user experience.
So, before you start adding a list of new components to your project(s), take a moment to consider the component-specific features above and how you want to use these features to support your process. Also, you’ll want to make sure the component values will make sense to the users creating tickets in your project.
When configuring Jira, a thoughtful approach is always best. When considering options to build for your project’s components, you should consider the following:
- The different types of work your team does (or issues types)
- Their processes (or workflows)
- The different skills and abilities of your team members working on issues.
Then, use this information to create a thoughtful division of incoming issues (or requests) to help your team easily define ownership and start working faster, to establish more meaningful reporting, or to help support your team by identifying issues requiring special attention or additional process steps.
Sample Component Use Cases
As functional segments of a Software Application:
- User Interface (UI)
As larger feature groupings within a Software Application:
As different Marketing Channels:
- Company Website / Blog
- YouTube Videos
- Web Advertising
- Partner Websites
As technical specialties:
As a way to flag special circumstances:
- Tech Debt
- PHI or PII (personal info)
- Security Review
There are many, many other options for how components can be used within a Jira project, but project administrators should be careful. It’s important to take an intentional approach to create cohesive lists, and not implement a random list of ad-hoc values.
It is the responsibility of the project administrators to ensure that the list of components stays up-to-date and relevant to the project. This will help your team avoid one of the most common problems we see where teams add too many components, users are not clear on which to use, and components are not used effectively. When users are presented with too many options or options that don’t make sense, they will generally either skip the field entirely or choose a random option. This behavior leads to data that is less accurate and less valuable.
How to Add Components in Your Project
To be able to add or edit components in a project, you must either be a project administrator or Jira System Administrator. Once you have access, it is a fairly straightforward process.
- In Jira, navigate to the project you want to update.
- From the sidebar, select Project Settings, then select Components.
- Click the Create component button and supply the following information:
- Name (required)
- Component Lead
- Default Assignee
You’ve created your first component.
Keep in mind…
Before you’ll be able to start adding components to issues, you (or the project administrator) will need to make sure the component field has been added to the screens for all appropriate issue types. But, once that is set, you’re ready to start using components in your project. Also, if you set a default assignee for your components, newly created issues with components will now be automatically assigned.
Pro tip: If you select more than one Component, the designated default assignee for the first component selected will be used.
There are so many details to consider when configuring projects in Jira, it can become overwhelming for newcomers and administrators still learning the application. But, like components, each of these configurations can be a powerful tool in your toolbelt, once you get a feel for how it works. As you learn how each configuration works as a part of a larger whole, you’ll start to see the real power and value of Jira’s customizable nature.
Not sure where to start? Reach out to one of our Atlassian Experts. We’d be happy to support you and your team along your Atlassian learning journey.