Back

Time to upgrade: why product managers working remotely need more than Jira, especially now

remote PMs need more than Jira

by Elad Simon, Craft.io CEO

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses worldwide are switching their mindset and employees to working remotely. This change has introduced us to a myriad of challenges: whether it’s juggling the reality of working with your kids in the house (read: zoo), ensuring you maintain a healthy work-life balance, or finding the right tools to help you get your work done.

While we might not be able to help control your kids (or your spouse), we can provide some insights on why making the switch from using a standard issue-tracking software exclusively to adding a robust product-management tool can make a critical difference to your organization during these trying times. 

In our previous post covering how companies & product teams can survive (and even thrive) during COVID-19, we touched on why a dedicated product system-of-record tool is an essential part of an efficient product team. Today, we’ll hone in on why sticking with “what works” is no longer good enough when working remotely and how the benefits of a holistic, dedicated product management tool can revolutionize your team’s efficiency, regardless of where they work.

In 2002, Atlassian launched Jira – an issue tracking product designed for software development. Fast forward 18 years, and it has evolved into a multi-faceted product now marketed as capable of generic and agile product management. But despite this evolution, product managers using Jira today still find themselves contorting and trying to conform to software that won’t succeed in meeting their needs on a good day (let alone during a pandemic).

Jira and other task-management software might seem to be the perfect space for product managers to continue conducting their work. After all, their dev team is already proficiently using it for backlog management, assigning stories, tasks and bugs and scheduling sprints. But as a product manager, you do more than just assess and prioritize to-do lists. You define and refine the product strategy, gather and analyze data from a variety of sources, validate ideas, and establish and communicate your product roadmap. And most critical to your role is the ability to make sense of the noise, persuade stakeholders and keep the train moving forward.

Working remotely has significantly amplified the need for a product manager to sift through the endless barrage of information that accompanies their role and communicate it onwards effectively. More than ever, PMs need a macro approach to appraise all the moving parts from above and make precise, data-driven decisions. Jira, instead, focuses on the ‘micro’: on solving specific problems through ticketed tasks. It concentrates on facilitating the manufacturing part of the process and for a product manager, task-management is only a part (and sometimes a small part) of their role. So when it comes to the bigger picture, Jira (and other ticketing systems or task-management tools), simply can’t provide the data, context, and features that product managers need to pull everything together. Add to this a laborious interface that often vexes non-software developers (and truthfully, some developers as well), and you can see why Jira struggles to check the box of straightforward communication and collaboration for the wider organization.

So in many ways, using Jira for product management is like fitting a square peg in a round hole. We know in our bones it’s not the best fit, but somewhere along the way it became ‘good enough’. But what if there was a tool specifically designed to meet a product manager’s needs? A tool that allowed you to set the long-term vision and strategy, facilitate production and communicate the strategy to relevant participants and stakeholders throughout the product’s lifecycle. But more critically, a tool that allowed everyone in the organization to instantly view a live, dynamic snapshot of the entire process. Something that connected everyone and allowed them to easily and efficiently communicate their ideas and opinions in a clear, organized way.

The good news is that it exists. Craft.io picks up the slack where Jira fails: it exchanges Jira’s exclusively execution-focused approach in favor of something far more holistic. By integrating directly with the development tools used by organizations, Craft.io provides product managers with a dedicated space to plan, prioritize, iterate ideas, and build better products–all while having their finger on the pulse of all critical moving parts. 

And at a time where we can only be connected virtually, Craft.io provides a structured, chronological format for comments and discussions–allowing users to quickly gauge an item’s status or an idea’s development with a single glance. This next-level transparency is precisely what product managers, their teams and indeed, all their relevant stakeholders need right now: a place that aligns the product vision, strategy, and product development.

We need to start seeing and using Jira as what it is: an exceptional delivery system, a hub for development, the gold standard for ticketing. Now that the world has switched to working remotely and face-to-face meetings and impromptu watercooler chats are no longer an option, we can no longer depend on these physical interactions to work out the kinks in our product’s strategy, planning, and development. More than ever, product teams need a dedicated tool to reflect their needs, processes, and methodologies, so that teams can work with transparency, product managers can prioritize effectively, and stakeholders can be kept seamlessly in the loop, wherever they are.

Try Craft.io for free for 14 days to improve your team’s remote product management capabilities!