Automating Custom Jira Time Reporting with JQL Search Extensions

This is a guest blog written by Daniel Turczanski, from our partner Digital Toucan, developers of JQL Search Extensions for Jira.

When managing a project, you want to be able to have insight into how much time is spent on a task and the overall project to further solidify resource planning and allocation.

You also want to be able to track time across specific types of issues to improve prioritization and workload management.

But the problem is that out-of-the-box, Jira doesn’t have all the necessary features to support extensive time tracking and reporting.

This article will guide you through the process of creating a more productive and efficient project reporting experience by overcoming Jira’s native limits. 

Limitations of Jira

While your Jira dashboards do offer some form of time reporting features, you are limited in terms of data granularity, trackability, and customization.

In addition, having a limited search query parameter prevents you from creating very specific sub-categories of issues to help you capture certain issue data.

There are four key critical functions that out-of-the-box Jira seems to lack:

1. Automated time tracking

If you’re tracking time, that’s already a sign that you value the effort channelled into your projects. The issue is you need to manually track your time, which on its own is time-consuming. 

A more efficient working environment would involve automated time tracking where all your activities – ideally, even outside of Jira, such as meetings and brainstorming sessions – can be tracked and accumulated for better daily time reporting. 

After all, not everyone can remember what they accomplished throughout the day. If it’s automated, everyone can also be relieved from arduous self-reporting duties.

2. Automated time reporting

Since native Jira features don’t support automated time -tracking, then automated time reporting is also impossible. So, if you want to generate an extensive or granular report, you need to export your data sets to Excel, or a third-party reporting engine.

Jira enables you to pull reports from general issue categories, but even then, you have to adjust your time logs manually. If you have multiple time data sources, you will end up spending hours just putting together a general report.

Due to Jira’s limited search query parameters, you aren’t able to pull automated time reports from very specific sub-issues.

3. Limited search query parameters

Despite the availability of advanced search features and JQL, Jira has limited search query parameters. This then constrains your ability to pull data from certain subcategories, which is crucial when you want insights into time-consuming blockers and incorrectly billed work.

For instance, you can’t find epics that are accidentally marked as complete, though stories in them are still in progress, even if you’re using JQL because such a query isn’t available. More importantly, you can neither search for nor create specific issue groups that you can time-track for greater visibility into your billable hours.

You would end up spending hours just searching for issues.

4. Custom reporting capabilities

To do this, you need to be able to create filters that meet your time reporting needs. Again, because of the limitations mentioned above, creating custom reports would require you to take your data outside of Jira.

Being able to generate custom reports would definitely improve how you present your data to your teams and expand your insights. Working with such limitations can prevent you from gaining insights into valuable time reporting data.

So how can you overcome these limitations?

How Tempo Timesheets Resolve Time Tracking and Time Reporting Limitations

Tempo Timesheets time reporting and tracking solution could significantly change how you manage the time you and your team spend working in Jira – and even outside of Jira. 

Its time tracking features allow you to automatically and accurately capture your workday to include meetings, tickets, issues, and code committed from a variety of applications – all with just a single click. This is possible as it can pull data from Google Calendar, Office 365 Calendar, Visual Studio Code (VS Code), and more, and bring that data into Jira.

The automated reporting feature, on the other hand, enables you to build granular reports instantaneously based on the time-tracking data. You can gain a more realistic understanding of your team’s daily workload and reduce self-reporting efforts. This data can help you understand how practical it is for a member to work on a task so that you can avoid over-burdening them.

Tempo Timesheets app in action

 A sample of a team member’s timesheet enabled by automated tracking.

How JQL Search Extensions Resolve Limited Search Query Parameters

Since basic JQL limits you from meeting your search needs effectively, you need a credible app like JQL Search Extensions for Jira. With over 50 additional queries, you can search for almost anything you want across your instance in just a matter of seconds, regardless of how specific your query is.

For instance, if you want to prevent high-priority issues from getting lost in the backlog, you can use the following filter:

issue in linkedIssuesOfQuery("project = TEMPO AND priority = Highest", "is blocked by")

The app allows you to create extensive new filters so that you can easily and quickly pull specific sub-categories of issues. You can differentiate product versions in a way that’s not possible in Advanced Search, find outliers to a project, find issues that have been last commented on within a specific number of days, and so on.

How Tempo and JQL Search Extensions Enable Automated Custom Reporting

When you integrate these two apps together, you can then resolve the lack of custom reporting capabilities and even automate it.

So, once you have created a filter using the JQL Search Extension app, you can plug it into Tempo Timesheets to capture data from any kind of sub-category item you’ve created. You can also pull data from time-tracking reports for very specific components of a project (epics, bugs, stories, etc.), and use it to make better decisions when distributing your workload or billing your clients.

Just go to TempoReportsCreate new reportFilter by: JQL

How to use JQL Search Extensions with Tempo Timesheets

Track time and pull custom reports automatically without having to leave Jira or use external reporting apps.

Below are some use cases for automated time reporting:

  1. Creating a monthly report based on time reported for:
    1. An entire project including its linked issues
      project = X and issue in linkedIssuesOfQuery(project = X )
    2. A project linked by “SRE issues” (i.e., time spent fixing production issues)
      project = X and linkedIssuesOfQuery("filter='SRE Incidents this Year'")
  2. Creating reports on issues with specific components
    1. All issues that have names starting with “component*” (common JSE wildcardMatch use case) and the total time spent on Bitbucket
      project = X and issue in wildcardMatch("component ", "bitbucket*") 
    2. All issues that have names starting with “component*” (common JSE wildcardMatch use case) and the total time spent on continuous integration related tasks
      project = X and issue in wildcardMatch("component", "ci*") 

Expand Your Jira Time Management Capability

Improve project reporting and gain more insights from your data when you can meet specific search needs. Enjoy automated granular reporting without having to leave Jira.

Try JQL Search Extensions for Jira and Tempo Timesheets today.

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