How to get started with Jira User Stories

Learn how to use Jira issues: Jira User Stories, Jira tasks, and Jira sub-tasks

Anca Onuta


Jira user stories are a skill to have!

Jira is yet another tool to organize work. It is trendy among software development teams because it offers full support for the Agile methodologies, it is easy to use, flexible, and it integrates with the development tools.

The challenge Scrum Teams have is to make the best out of Jira and to keep the product backlog structured.

What I like about it is that it offers all the tools integration and a lot of automation for the teams.

When to use Jira?

I always use Jira with the teams I Agile Coach teams. The only exception is when the teams use Microsoft Azure as a cloud computing service. Then it makes sense to use Team Foundation Server(TFS) or Azure DevOps because of the integrability between development tools and product tracking tools.

How to get started with Jira?

Nowadays, Jira has a free forever version. And if you are new with Jira, I recommend you to start with NextGen project type because it is more simple and easy to use. To get started, I would say, limit the use of Jira to the default settings: Scrum or Kanban.

What are the user stories in Agile methodologies?

“The user story is a piece of functionality that is of value to the customer.”

I wrote a dedicated article about User Stories, which I recommend you to read if you are new with User Stories.

Learn can learn how to split your User Stories from this article:

If you are new to Jira and User stories, I recommend you restructure your entire product backlog using the techniques above.

At this stage, your backlog must contain ONLY user stories. I’ll write a separate article on how to diversity your Product Backlog and Jira issue types.

What are tasks and sub-tasks?

In Jira, tasks and sub-tasks are the same things — it is an action a Scrum Team member does.

Usually, the Scrum Team splits the work on a specific user story in tasks. In Jira, you can attach only sub-tasks to a user story.

To keep your backlog structured, I recommend you only use:

  • user stories to describe the functionality that delivers customer value
  • sub-tasks of the user story that describe how the scrum team implements the work needed to get done for a specific user story. Jira tutorial.

How to make the most out of Jira?

If you use Scrum I recommend:

  • Define two weeks sprint, one week if you just got started with a clear definition for a goal and what user stories help you to achieve this goal
  • Define how you as a Scrum Team is going to do the user stories using sub-tasks

If you use Kanban I recommend:

  • Order the user stories based on the customer value
  • When you finished a user story always pick the next one from the top of the list

Independent of the Agile methodology, I recommend:

  • Work only on a user story at a time and try to minimize work in progress.
  • Update Jira at least every Daily Scrum: update both User Stories and Sub-tasks.
  • You can use tools as Orli (Discord Jira Integration) to update the Jira status of your user stories and tasks.

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