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Do you crowdsource issue triage? If you’re like most organizations, the answer is “no” – issue triage and backlog grooming are left to a few selected individuals. Atlassian has taken a different tack. While the ultimate decision around issue triage is done by our product management team (see more on this below), we get extensive feedback from employees, customers, and partners who are all given a voice in deciding which issues are most important.
Without voting, the only real way a team member can voice concern about an issue to a product owner or technical lead is by saying, “Hey, I think this issue is important.” The lead often has many other things going on, and is likely to forget to revisit that issue.
Here at Atlassian we make extensive use of votes on http://jira.atlassian.com to communicate with our customers, which helps prioritize some aspects of product development. By crowdsourcing with votes, JIRA can keep track of the pulse of the product ecosystem. What is a vote? A vote captures a user’s opinion that a particular issue is important. While less significant on the smaller scale, voting can be a powerful way to capture organic feedback. And since it’s applicable in most organizations, voting can bring crucial feedback into focus for teams that interact with a large amount of users.
How do I vote?
Voting in JIRA is easy. Just click the vote for this issue link, and you’ll see that your vote has been counted.
If you don’t see the vote option, ask your system administrator to enable voting in JIRA.
How can I make use of votes?
A vote is a record of you noting that a particular issue is important. It’s easy to query JIRA and see which issues you have voted on. Let’s take a look at a JQL statement to the issues that are still open or resolved but not fixed.
If you voted on an issue, it’s pretty likely that you want to see it fixed. There are three parts of this query.
- voter = currentUser() only returns the issues that I have voted on
- resolution is empty only returns the issues that are still open
- resolution != Fixed only returns issues that have been resolved but not by fixing them. Sometimes issues will be resolved will not fix, cannot reproduce, invalid, etc. We still want to see those issues so that we can comment on that particular resolution.
Once you’ve run this search, save it as a filter and use it on a JIRA dashboard to keep on top of any issues you’ve voted on. Adding the votes column allows you to see how everyone else is voting on an issue.
Votes in aggregate
How can we see the team’s voice with votes? Let’s start with a simple query listing all of the open issues in our project:
We can then sort by number of votes so the most popular issues rise to the top.
What if we want to know how many votes each issue received? We can easily customize JIRA’s search results in list view to add the votes column. If you’re using JIRA 6.1, just press the columns button and search for the votes field.
If you’re on an earlier version of JIRA, check out my configuring search results blog.
Tracking votes over time can point out significant events around that issue. First, click the number of votes on an issue:
JIRA then shows the number of votes on an issue over time. In the issue below we see a significant rise of votes in a short period.
Savvy teams track changes in popular opinion to see what the right step forward is. Are people using your product in a new way? Has a new release made an existing issue more painful? These shifts are worth exploring to get additional context on an issue.
Hey Atlassian, are you listening to votes?
I can’t write this article and not address the question of how votes influence product roadmaps and feature decisions here at Atlassian. Our product managers use a number of feedback sources to evolve product roadmaps. To learn more about this, check out this post on answers.atlassian.com by Bryan Rollins, JIRA’s business manager (formerly group product manager). It’s full of great insight into how we connect with customers and the market to build the next generation of our products.
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