TechCrunch has published an article on the downsides of using JIRA and how it is a poor project management tool for software projects. It emphasizes creating tickets as if the architecture and development of an application can be mapped cleanly to creating tickets for everything that needs to be done.
As the author/developer says, JIRA pushes developers to start working on only one task at a time to make sure it gets shipped immediately. This is inefficient as you can work on a bunch of other smaller productivity tasks at the same time. Instead developers look to “clean their plate” of To-Do and In-Progress tasks. JIRA tickets and columns become the way to whip developers into doing their work-chores.
It is suggested in the article that we as developers already have a powerful alternative to the deconstruction of a project into JIRA tickets: “It’s called prose”. Developers, especially in the open source community, have been using this technique to great effect and it has led to some excellent software.
“For some reason many companies today seem to be terrified of the prospect of writing more than a couple of paragraphs of clear and simple prose. But a well-written 8-page document can define the nuances of a complicated system far better than a whole cumbersome flotilla of interlinked JIRA tickets.”
It’s as if companies are afraid of developers becoming smarter and more articulate. Perhaps they fear developers who will speak up more at meetings and call managers out on their half-baked ideas or will be able to influence other developers to ask for bonuses or a fairer recognition system.
While we like to rag on Amazon for their poor workplace and over-working developers, they do have a great idea: for any project, write a 1-page document describing what it is and why it is needed. If a project needs more than 1-page then the project may be too large to tackle and isn’t focused enough on solving a problem. That document can act as a high-level roadmap which is far better than seeing a board of JIRA tickets. If you’re working on something and it can’t be connected to supporting a sentence or paragraph in the project document, then you probably don’t need to work on that thing. It’s a clear and effective way to determine what a project is all about.
Also published on Medium.