Proper vacation tracking requires to automatically reassign Jira issues
Holiday planning can be daunting for a manager. Summer comes (or Christmas) and there are goals and projects to deliver… but employees start requesting time off and the team spreads thin.
To solve the problem, we recommend bringing holiday planning right into Jira. You will see how listing employee vacations in Jira will help you have a proper process to track which tasks are picked up by whom, and who covers for the employees who are on leave. And at the same time, you will have a higher productivity than if you just look the other way while users with important issues assigned in Jira are on vacation.
Jira Vacation tracking – What are the options?
There are multiple solutions for tracking your team’s vacations and absences in Jira.
- There’s this quite old Atlassian play that uses a specific request type, a Jira Service Desk Form, and Teams Calendars
- There’s also a bunch of specific solutions in the marketplace that work like an absence assistant, like Vacation Manager for Jira, Leave Tracker, or Calamari Connector (don’t take this as an endorsement. We haven’t tested them).
Most absence management solutions address how vacations and leaves are requested, approved, and communicated. Which is great.
But none of them address work not being done when an employee is temporarily unavailable. Their Jira issues will sit idle waiting for them to return. In many cases you can’t afford the luxury of waiting.
What if the leaver is the default assignee for bugs in an important project? What if he’s the on-call expert for support cases with a certain technology?
If you want to reassign Jira issues, you can activate automatic assignments of Jira issues to a different owner. This can become a mandatory part of every vacation request, regardless of whether you track them in Jira. In fact, here are 10 great ideas for vacation planning workflows that you can build with your favorite calendar tools using Zapier. All of them connect to Jira so work can be delegated.
Instead of being blocked while the original Jira user is on vacation, the second owner will take care of the issue.
This second assignee can triage the issues in three buckets:
- Move Jira issues that can wait to pending
- Become the owner for the Jira issues that they can personally work on
- Find third assignees to own issues, when they don’t have the capacity or the ability to work on them.
The coverer can be a product manager, a teammate with similar expertise, or a direct report that understands the daily operations of the leaver with a good amount of detail.
Make multiple assignments to cover for an absent Jira user
In this step-by-step guide, we will use resolution’s Out of Office Assistant for Jira Cloud to create a set of automation rules that leave no Jira issue unturned.
Out of Office Assistant for Jira creates vacation responders and auto replies for issues in Jira. However, its most important benefit consists in the ability to add a temporary owner for Jira issues that would otherwise be orphan.
You will be able to:
- Assign existing issues in bulk
- Automate the assignment of new issues whenever they are assigned to you
Prerequisites for Vacation Tracking
- Active instance of Jira Cloud
- Install Out of Office & Absence Automatic Issue Assignment for Jira Cloud
- A Jira user that will be on leave or assigned to different projects for at least one entire business day.
Note that this method won’t work for shift handovers that need to be triggered every day.
Step 1: Open Out of Office Assistant
On your personal Jira profile, access the assistant.
Step 2: Create your first Out of Office & auto-assignment rule
- Set a start date for the rule
- Set an end date for the rule (this is optional. Rules can be open-ended)
- Next, you have to decide which issues will be assigned. There are 2 different options.
Option 1: Delegate issues by project
The easy option is to restrict the scope by project. You can either:
- Apply the rule to every project (active by default)
- Apply the rule to only one project
Option 2: Create a JQL filter to automatically assign issues to another Jira issue owner
If you need to be more granular, you can create a JQL to delegate only specific issues.
- Click on the JQL issue filter button
- A modal window will pop up where you can build your JQL and see which issues result. By default, the JQL will only contain the assignee ID for the user creating the rule. You can’t modify this value, as it would tinker with somebody else’s work!
- Edit the JQL to add additional conditions and filter only relevant issues
Let’s look at the following examples:
assignee = 5cf26e0fe389ff0d9643ebbb AND type =content AND project = “Sales & Marketing” AND status!=DONE
In this case, I am selecting only content issues in the Sales and Marketing project, because they will be owned by my colleague Isaiah while I’m on parental leave.
Set the new Jira issue assignee
Finally, before creating the rule you will have to:
- Select coverers. You can select one or multiple Jira issue assignees.
- Write an Out of the Office notification message. This message will be posted as a comment in any Jira issue assigned to you during the selected period. Customers will receive
Step 3: Create additional rules to reassign different types of Jira issues
One rule will be enough when the covering assignees are capable of handling everything.
However, if you want to assign different types of tasks to different groups of colleagues, you can create different rules that coexist during the same period of time.
Following with the example above, I still need to delegate my joint marketing tasks in the Sales & Marketing project to Huiyi.
And I will create an additional rule to assign all my issues in the other project where I’m active to my boss.
Step 4: Assign the existing issues for each rule
This is an important step if there is ongoing work that you need to delegate while you’re away.
- Go to your Out of Office menu
- Click on the blue user icon in the rule with the work you want to assign
- Decide whether you want coverers to be added as watchers or as assignees (the active option by default)
- You will see all the issues currently assigned to you.
- Select all the issues that you need to delegate
- If there are multiple coverers and you decided to add them as assignees, the issues will be assigned to them in round robin.
- If f there are multiple coverers and you decided to add them as Jira issue watchers, all of them will be added as watchers to every issue.
Step 5: Analyze how many issues have been assigned to your colleagues while you were away.
When you come back from your special assignment, you want to have a look at how much work has been delegated to your colleagues. To achieve this:
- Go back to your rule and click on the Analytics label to see the data
- Issues assigned to you will be classified into reassignments and unsuccessful events. You will be able to click on each of the links to access the Jira issue history.
- If any issues were not assigned, you can also see why
Bonus: Reassign Jira issues on behalf of other users as a Jira admin
As a user, I can only create rules to reassign issues for myself.
However, admins have access to the User Administration section.
Once inside, they can see a list with every user with important information regarding user availability.
Additionally, they can:
- Search users within specific projects or by username
- See all rules for any user
- Edit an existing rule
- Create a new rule
- Check the analytics for reassigned issues and failed reassignments.
And that’s not all! If you’re an admin and you know a bit of programming, you can easily create a custom integration. All it takes to connect the platform where you currently track vacations and absences is a browsing through the REST API documentation and writing a couple of lines of code!
In this article we have seen how to create rules that reassign Jira issues to colleagues automatically when a user becomes unavailable. We have also seen that these rules can be created in advanced by the user while planning their handover, but also by a Jira administrator virtually anytime. All of this can be done with a Jira Out of Office automation.
Besides sending notifications to colleagues and customers while you’re on on a leave of absence of any kind (vacation, illness, or parental leave) Out of Office Assistant for Jira Cloud provides an efficient mechanism that keeps work moving towards completion, no matter how many employees are temporarily unavailable.