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Jira Administrators: Role, Qualifications, and First Steps

Jira plays a pivotal role in project success for organizations across industries. And Jira administrators make that success possible. Good admins facilitate collaboration and visibility while keeping sensitive information secure. But a Jira administrator’s job is not an easy one, and if they aren’t up to the task, your organization’s Jira deployment won’t align with its strategic objectives. Thankfully, with the right preparation, plan, and skills, a Jira admin can turn Jira into a driver of business success.

What Does a Jira Administrator’s Job Look Like?

A Jira administrator installs, configures, and manages your organization’s instance of Jira. It’s the admin’s job to ensure that each person has the right user role and privileges assigned in Jira. To that end, they must have an in-depth understanding of who within their organization needs to use Jira and what they want to accomplish with it. Small organizations may have just one Jira admin, while larger organizations are likely to have multiple personnel assigned to Jira administration.

It’s important to note that Jira administrators are not the same as Jira project administrators. The latter is a role that can be assigned within Jira to give a user control over a particular project, while Jira admins have control over the entire Jira installation.

Jira admins are not system admins, either. System admins are responsible for setting up and managing IT infrastructure, not managing your organization’s Jira deployment. That said, Jira admins should have at least basic familiarity with system administration tasks like software package management and file system permissions management to install and update Jira.

Jira workflows ebook


What Do You Need to Be a Jira Administrator?

There’s no specific path you must follow to become a Jira administrator, and there’s no particular course to take or certification to achieve. But the following skills and experience are great adds to any Jira administrator’s resume:

  • Obtaining a degree in computer science, IT, or a related field.
  • Gaining experience with system administration, especially with whichever technologies and platforms (like Windows, Linux, or a public cloud) your company uses to host Jira.
  • Gaining programming skills, especially in Java, the language Jira is written in. Although you won’t need to modify the source code of Jira itself, you need to know Java to accomplish tasks like writing Jira plugins.
  • Working with Jira as an ordinary user or project admin so that you learn the ins and outs of the system.
  • Obtaining certifications related to Jira helps demonstrate your expertise.

You can also establish a reputation as an experienced Jira user by contributing Jira plugins to the Atlassian marketplace.

How to Hit the Ground Running as a Jira Administrator

Whatever path you follow to become a Jira administrator, you can get up and running in the role smoothly by following a few basic steps.

Setting up Jira

Installing and configuring Jira is the first task every admin faces. To do it well, pay close attention to how the rest of your organization’s IT environment is configured, then find ways to integrate the Jira installation as efficiently as possible within that environment. For example, integrating Jira with your company’s LDAP system to manage users is much more efficient than attempting to manage Jira users independently.

Configuring User Permissions

Jira admins often need to fine-tune user permissions in Jira after roles have been created. For this task, you need to know what each user requires, then assign permissions on a granular, user-by-user basis. In other words, avoid the temptation to simply user permissions by assigning everyone to roles like project admin. That approach is an easy way to give everyone the permissions they need, but it results in many users who have permissions they don’t require, which may lead to security and data privacy issues.

You should consult your organization’s IT governance policies to check whether they include rules about managing permissions within platforms like Jira. You may find, for example, that there are limitations on how many project admin roles you should have. The governance policies likely also establish specific procedures to follow for revoking user permissions when a user’s role changes or when a user leaves the company.

Optimizing Workflows

Getting the most out of Jira workflows — the paths that issues follow within a project — also requires in-depth knowledge of your organization’s needs and structure. Rather than sticking with the default workflow configurations, consult with relevant stakeholders to determine which workflow design issues have led to roadblocks or delays in the past. You can then optimize the workflows in your new Jira instance to mitigate these problems.

Best Practices for Jira Administration

Beyond the steps you can take to optimize Jira when initially setting it up, consider additional best practices for administering Jira as effectively as possible over the long term.

Prioritize Security

Jira security should be a top-of-mind issue for every Jira admin. Cyberattacks affect organizations across industries, and widely used software platforms are prime targets for attackers. By exploiting Jira security vulnerabilities, threat actors can potentially gain access not just to your Jira instance, but to your entire IT estate.

Ensure that you update your Jira installation regularly in order to keep it patched against known vulnerabilities. Follow the principle of least privilege — ensuring each user has the specific permissions they need to perform a designated job, but no more — when assigning permissions. Back up your Jira data and installation so you can recover quickly in the event of an attack that takes it offline or that holds your data for ransom.

Avoid Unnecessary Workflows

As a Jira admin, always remember that just because you can create a workflow doesn’t mean you should. The more workflows you have, the more unwieldy it becomes for you to manage Jira and for your users to work within it. Before introducing a new workflow, think carefully about if the workflow is necessary or whether its purpose could be achieved by modifying an existing workflow instead. You should also consult your Jira users regularly to collect feedback about which workflows are not working well for them and should be either deleted or updated.

Align Jira with Business Goals

Jira’s ultimate purpose is to help teams work more efficiently so that they can drive business value. That’s why you should constantly be on the lookout for ways to tweak Jira so that it meets shifting business goals. If your organization introduces a new product or service, for example, discuss the offering with stakeholders so you can determine which changes to make to best support related projects in Jira.

Make Jira Administration Easy With a Trusted Partner

Every business uses Jira in a different way, and there is no simple formula to follow to optimize Jira for your organization. Consult with the Jira experts at Contegix to learn how to be the best Jira admin you can be. In addition to offering deep technical mastery of Jira and the broader Atlassian ecosystem, the experts at Contegix can provide guidance to help you tailor Jira to your business’s unique needs and maximize the productivity of Jira users. Learn more by contacting Contegix today.