Jira Requirements Management 101: Strategies and Tools

Updated: February 9, 2024

Your team gets a big amount of requirement documents before each product and you’re expected to handle them in Jira, but you’re not sure which way to choose? Some people say use Confluence, others prefer simple Jira issues, and yet others swear by Marketplace apps. How to choose the right solution for your needs? Read our article and find out which Jira requirements management strategy is best for you.

Bringing your requirements management into Jira

If you’re thinking about choosing the Atlassian product for your requirements management, we don’t have to sell you on it. But—

For those of you who aren’t yet convinced, let’s quickly go over the most common reasons why people choose Jira and then move on to answering your main question: How to manage requirements in Jira?

Why choose Atlassian’s Jira for requirements management?

  • Jira consolidates requirements with other project-related matters on the same platform. It also enables seamless linking between them.
  • You can test and execute the entire software development process in a consistent interface. As a result, anyone with access to the data can easily track any changes. This means that developers, testers, and stakeholders alike can monitor the project every step of the way.
  • There is a wide range of project types and structures. Each of them requires a different approach. Jira offers different options for documenting product requirements. That way, you and your team members can choose the model that best suits you.

3 ways to manage software requirements in Jira

We distinguish three main ways of collecting requirements in Jira. Choosing the right one contributes to the success of the final release.

1. Requirements as issue types

This is the most basic way to manage your requirements in Jira. Especially if you already use it to track work, bugs or sprints. Storing objects as issue types is intuitive to put in place. 

Your Jira admins can create custom issue types and call them requirements. Simply organize the issues dedicated for requirements, and define them with Labels and Components. By adding different fields to the issues, you can track requirements’ attributes. They can include:

  • type of the requirement,
  • owner of the requirement (issue),
  • priority,
  • status,
  • due date,
  • risk assessment.

Remember about consistent problem descriptions. They help in quick, easy filtering and searching of requirements. They also improve understanding.

By storing items in Jira, you link related requests together. When requirements are directly dependent, you can build a functional structure by linking the corresponding tasks and subtasks in Jira to each other.

Jira requirements management: requirements as issue types
‘Issue Links’ section within an issue Source: Atlassian Documentation

Pros and cons of managing requirements as issues

Is managing requirements as issues the right strategy for your team? To help you decide, we created a list of pros and cons.

Pros
  • It’s good for those who already use Jira and know the tool well.
  • If you already have a Jira license, you don’t have to pay for an external tool to manage requirements.
Cons
  • If not managed the right way, the system can become cluttered with too many issues.
  • As requirements change, updating them manually becomes difficult.
  • Tracking the status of requirements is time consuming.
  • To share requirements with stakeholders, you need an external document or spreadsheet.
  • Reusing requirements takes a lot of manual work.
  • There are no requirements-related reports.

If this method seems like a good fit, you’re surely wondering: How to write requirements in Jira? Let’s go through this process step by step.

How to write requirements in Jira?

Create a new issue

Start by creating a new issue in your Jira project. An issue in Jira can represent a requirement, a task, a bug, or any other type of work item.

Choose the right issue type

Secondly, select an appropriate issue type for your requirement. Common types include “Story” for user stories, “Task” for general tasks, or “Epic” for larger work that encompasses many stories or tasks.

Write a clear summary

Provide a concise and descriptive summary for the requirement. This is typically the first thing people will read, so it should clearly communicate the essence of the requirement.

Add detailed description

In the description field, provide a detailed explanation of the requirement. This can include:

  • The goal or objective of the requirement.
  • Any specific details or criteria that need to be met.
  • Background information or context that helps explain the requirement.
  • User stories or use cases, if applicable.
Define acceptance criteria

Then, specify the conditions that the requirement must meet for completion. Acceptance criteria help developers understand expected outcomes and serve as a foundation for testing.

Set priority and assignee

Assign a priority to the requirement to state its importance. Also, assign it to a team member or leave it unassigned if it’s not yet clear who will work on it.

If the requirement is related to other issues (like bugs, tasks, or other stories), use Jira’s linking feature to connect them. This helps in tracking dependencies and related work.

Add labels and components

Use labels and components to categorize and organize the requirement. This helps in filtering and reporting within Jira.

Attach files or screenshots

If there are any relevant files, diagrams, or screenshots, attach them to the issue to provide extra context or clarification.

Use custom fields

If your Jira project has custom fields set up, fill them out as needed. These might include fields for specific business units, estimated effort, or other project-specific information.

Review and publish

Finally, review your work. Before creating the issue, review all the details to ensure everything is accurate and clear. Then, create the issue in Jira.

2. Integration with Confluence

Another way of managing requirements in Jira is by linking it to Confluence.

You can integrate your requirements pages in Confluence with Jira issues. To do that, create development issues and tasks directly from requirements pages. It makes maintaining integration between related entities seamless.

Confluence can store and present much more detailed information than Jira custom fields. Using a Product Requirements Blueprint helps you define, scope and track requirements. It helps to make it easier and faster to describe requirements details on the wiki platform. To make life easier for you, Atlassian created a product requirements template.

If you decide to use Confluence for requirements management, you can choose to:

  • Build the entire requirements structure in Jira. Then write down the details of the requirements on dedicated pages in Confluence.
  • Put the entire specification in one Confluence document.
  • Create a tree structure of subpages in Confluence. Then connect them to the project with requirements collected in Jira.

Keeping requirements in Confluence is more effective compared to using external tools or Excel sheets. Managing all requirement-related activities in Confluence fosters discussions and enhances communication among stakeholders.

A product requirements page in Confluence
A product requirements page in Confluence. Source: Atlassian Documentation

Pros and cons of managing requirements in Confluence

Here’s a list of pros and cons of this requirements management strategy.

Pros
  • You can store big amounts of detailed information in Confluence.
  • Using the Confluence page versions you can track requirements’ change history.
  • It’s easy to share requirements with different stakeholders, either by sharing pages or exporting them.
  • You can define requirement details on a Confluence page and plan releases and track implementation progress using linked Jira issues.
  • You can use ready-made templates.
  • There are no additional costs (if you already own a license).
  • You can set permissions and control who can view or edit the requirements.\
  • It’s a good option for those who already have used Confluence.
Cons
  • Confluence doesn’t have specific features needed for more complex requirements management. Examples include the Requirement Traceability Matrix in Jira or Requirements Coverage.
  • To get the most out of requirement tracking and management, you have to integrate it with Jira.
  • Big amounts of information can make the Confluence pages cluttered. It then becomes hard to find specific information.
  • Confluence doesn’t support automated workflows for requirements management.

How to create requirements using Jira and Confluence?

Abhishek Shah, the founder of Testlify, recommends following a structured workflow.

Firstly, encourage teams to create clear, concise, and traceable requirements by leveraging Jira’s user story and epic features. Use custom fields and workflows to capture essential information and ensure thorough documentation.

Secondly, implement a robust version control system to track changes and updates to requirements. Thirdly, foster collaboration by integrating Confluence with Jira. It allows seamless communication and knowledge sharing among team members.

Lastly, regularly review and refine your requirements to adapt to evolving project needs. Use Jira’s reporting features to gain actionable insights.

3. Jira requirements management plugins

There are different tools designed for requirements management on the Atlassian Marketplace. These plugins are created with Jira in mind and so they connect with it seamlessly. 

Using them, you create, track, and organize requirements within Jira, aligning them with development and testing tasks. You can link requirements to various project components to maintain connection and track changes.

These apps provide a unified platform for all stakeholders to stay informed. 

Jira requirements management in RTM app
An example of a requirement created in the RTM app Source: RTM Documentation

You can generate and download dynamic, real-time reports. Then, they are extra useful during presentations and meetings.

Jira requirements management: test repository in TestFLO app
TestFLO Test Repository: filter results, charts, issue statistics Source: TestFLO

Here are some examples of popular requirements management tools. They’re all available on the Atlassian Marketplace.

Using them is probably the most reliable and easy way to manage requirements within Jira. Some of them, like RTM, are free for up to ten users. 

Still don’t know if you should explore investing in one? Weigh the pros and cons below.

Pros and cons of using requirements management apps

Pros
  • All the features needed for the entire requirements management system are in one tool.
  • Tracing requirements is easier throughout the project lifecycle, from start to completion.
  • It improves communication and collaboration among team members, with centralized access to requirements.
  • You can customize the requirements management process to the needs of the project or organization.
  • Advanced reporting and analytics are available to track progress, pinpoint bottlenecks, and help with decision-making.
  • It keeps track of changes and revisions to requirements. You can make sure everyone works on the latest version.
  • Vendors provide detailed onboarding materials to make using the apps easy.
Cons
  • You need time and effort to learn and adapt to the app’s features and functionalities.
  • Extra expense for the organization, as most requirements management apps come with a price tag.
  • If your team isn’t used to detailed requirements tracking, using the app may make it more complex.
Our RTM app helps you efficiently manage requirements in Jira, no matter how big or complex your project is. See it for yourself – the app is free for up to 10 users.
Try out the app

Jira requirements examples

Now let’s see some of the plugins in action. Here are some examples of requirements written in the Requirements and Test Management for Jira (RTM) plugin.

Jira requirements example
An example of a well-described and structured requirement Source: RTM Documentation

Even though the description of the below example is short, it gets the job done.

RTM for Jira lets you put your requirements in a tree-structured view
A software requirement example Source: RTM Documentation

Next, you can see a requirement written in Jira Software.

Jira requirements examples
Jira requirements example Source: Stiltsoft

The last requirement example is from the TestFLO – Test Management for Jira. You can see the requirement itself and the test case in Jira template.

Jira requirements examples
A requirement example together with a test case template Source: TestFlo Documentation

Now that you’ve chosen your method, let’s discuss some practices you need to keep in mind when managing requirements.

Jira requirements management: best practices

Besides having a place to manage requirements, you should remember about a few best practice that guide the entire process.

  1. Clearly define and document requirements

Make sure that all requirements are clearly written, unambiguous, and well-documented. This includes detailing the purpose, scope, and criteria for each of them.

  1. Involve stakeholders early and often

Engage key stakeholders throughout the requirements gathering and refinement process. That includes customers, users, and team members. Their input and feedback are crucial for understanding needs and expectations.

  1. Prioritize and categorize requirements

Prioritize requirements based on factors like business value, urgency, and dependencies. Categorize them (e.g., functional, non-functional, technical) for better organization and understanding.

  1. Use a Traceability Matrix

A traceability matrix helps you track the relationship between requirements, their sources, and the deliverables (such as design documents, test cases, and final products). This way we can make sure we address all requirements and track the impact of any changes.

  1. Regularly review and update requirements

Review requirements to ensure they remain relevant and accurate throughout the project lifecycle. Update them as needed to reflect changes in scope, market conditions, or stakeholder feedback.

  1. Put in place a change management process

Establish a structured process for managing changes to requirements. This should include:

  • assessing the impact of changes,
  • obtaining necessary approvals,
  • communicating changes to all relevant parties.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are three ways to manage requirements in Atlassian’s Jira. Managing them as issues, connecting Jira with Confluence, and using a dedicated app. The first two options seem to fit the needs of smaller, less-demanding teams. The third one – using a full-featured requirements management app – is the best option for established projects and teams.

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Halina Cudakiewicz

Halina is a Content Specialist at Deviniti, where she combines her love for writing and IT. She has written about several topics, including technology, Forex, and personal finance. Other than creating content, she loves dancing, reading legal thrillers, and learning new languages.

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