Why Jira Alone Can’t Manage Your Design Process

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Jira is a powerful project management tool that’s relied on by teams all around the world (including our team at CoLab), and for good reason: it works. For agile software teams that need to streamline their development, Jira is the best program out there.


That’s not to say that Jira can’t be used for non-software applications, in fact as of 2015, ⅓ of Jira users were non-software teams. Jira’s customizable workflows and processes make it an effective management tool for all kinds of projects.


Jira has seen such success with software teams that many of these customers are attempting to bring Jira across their organizations, like to their mechanical design team, seeking similar results. But there’s a problem with Jira being used by everyone: Jira wasn’t made for everyone. It wasn’t made for mechanical design teams. When it comes to mechanical design, Jira is missing something crucial - context.


2D and 3D design is inherent in the mechanical design process, and without it workflows break down. In a tool like Jira, a designer would make a note in a list and attempt to describe where on a 2D or 3D model their issue is located, so that the reader could pull up the model in their native CAD program and try to find it in order to begin their task. For managers, or other team members that aren’t CAD users, they may not get to see the model at all, and instead have to visualize the design all on their own. But mechanical design is a complex process, and the 3D models that these designs are based around often contain intricacies that cannot be explained in a quick issue note. Mechanical teams need context, and they get that context from CAD files and supporting documentation. Jira is a powerful project management tool, but for design teams, context is a missing requirement.


So how to we get over this problem? How do software/hardware teams leverage the industry leading issue tracking capabilities of Jira across the entire organization? Well, we have to introduce context.


Gradient is a design review and issue tracking tool that’s built to work alongside tools like Jira. Gradient has a built in CAD file viewer, so users can upload 2D/3D CAD files to a project, indicate issues directly on the model, and easily share them with internal and external stakeholders. Instead of receiving an issue with a couple of sentences directing you to a place in a model, issues are tied directly to the relevant point on the model and markups are tied directly to the issue - so screenshots, paint, and excel can be eliminated from the process. Gradient is built for mechanical teams, so it’s also integrated with your CAD/PDM, ensuring that your project can run seamlessly without ever having to leave the programs you know and love.


In future developments, Gradient will integrate directly with Jira, so you don’t have to decide between the power of Jira for software teams and the context you need to understand your designs.


Jira is a powerful tool that empowers software teams to collaborate on their work, and it’s about time those benefits reached the mechanical world. So instead of using Jira in an application it wasn’t intended for, look for tools that work alongside it to support the specific requirements of each team. Jira was built for software, and Gradient was built for managing mechanical design- leverage the tools together for a powerful pair.

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